On 17 December 2011, 39-year-old activist and television presenter Jason Wessenaar was found stabbed to death in his home in Pretoria. The killing occurred in the early morning hours as neighbors heard screams for help, only to find the victim with seven stab wounds to his neck.
Wessenaar, who was openly HIV-positive, was an HIV and gay rights activist. In 2004 and 2005 he presented the SABC 1 television show Siyayinqoba – Beat It, which highlighted stories of people living with HIV and related issues.
It seems Wessenaar is not the first in what now seems to be a series of gay men murders in the around the Johannesburg area, Gauteng Province South Africa.
With a spate of killings, this latest gay man murder seems hauntingly familiar with similarities to a spate of unsolved murders of gay men which have occurred the past two years in the area.
There are at least six other unsolved murders of gay men that took place in private homes in the province.
The murder spree began with Manolis Veloudos, who was killed in April 2010. He was followed in 2011 by Jim Cathels, Oscar O’Hara (33), Siphiwe Selby Nhlapo (36), a 47-year-old un-named landlord and Barney van Heerden (39) in September.
These murders had a number of similarities: the men were all bound; they were killed in private homes; there was no sign of forced entry; and, in most cases, little or nothing was stolen.
To date, the police have insisted that a serial killer is not responsible for the murders and have rejected calls for a single, specialized task team to be appointed to investigate the killings.
“According to a source connected to the cases, little or no progress has been made in the investigations. The source suggested to Mambaonline that the police may well be indifferent and unmotivated to solve the murders because of the men’s sexual orientation.”
Despite calls for action, the LGBT Hate Crime Task Force, established last year by the Minister of Justice, as well as the National Prosecutor’s Office have been silent on the matter.
See Petition urging action for Wessenaar’s murder investigation – http://www.gnpplus.net/en/news-and-events/other-news/1770-demand-justice-for-jason-wessenaar