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23-Year Old Beheaded In Anti-Gay Hate Crime Murder In South Africa

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A 23-year old transgender and gay man was beheaded in his home town of Kuruman, South Africa Friday, in an anti-gay hate crime. Thapelo Makutle, who was crowned Miss Gay Kuruman, was murdered by two men who remain at large. Reports state that police, for reasons of language and training, are not classifying the murder as a hate crime, and do not understand the significance of the attack. On report states the police reject that Makutle was beheaded, but acknowledge his throat was slashed.

Mamba Online reports:

According to the group Legbo Northern Cape, Thapelo Makutle was attacked at his place of work in the John Taolo Gaetsewe district on Friday. The organisation said that there was an argument related to “his sexuality and homosexuality”.

His two attackers are believed to have followed him to the room where he lived and on Saturday cut his throat, decapitating him.

They left his body under a blanket as though he were sleeping.

Makutle, who identified as both gay and transgender, was a volunteer for Legbo Northern Cape. He recently participated in the Kimberley Out In Africa Gay and Lesbian Festival, was known as a beauty queen named Queen Bling and was recently crowned Miss Gay Kuruman.

“It’s so sad. I can’t describe the pain that we are feeling right now,” Shaine Griqua, director of Legbo Northern Cape, told Mambaonline. “We have lost a young, talented, gay man who was open about who he was. The last few days have been like a dark cloud.”

He said that no arrests have yet been made in connection with the murder. He expressed his frustration with the lack of support for LGBT people in the Northern Cape and noted that hate crimes are on the rise in the province.

“We recently had a lesbian stabbed three times in a bar because they said that she should be a woman and not a man. She chose not to press charges because she didn’t want her family involved,” Griqua said.

“The government is not interested in this problem,” he added.

A later report form Mamba Online states:

According to the Mothibistad police, Thapelo Makutle’s body was found lying on the floor of his rented room. It is alleged that the victim has been out with his friends that night. He left unannounced and his friends assumed that he had gone home to sleep.

Shaine Griqua, Director of Legbo Northern Cape, who first reported the attack, said that confusion around the state of the body likely stems from miscommunication due to most people in the area not speaking English as a first language.

Griqua believes that the attack was a hate crime and said that he has information that Makutle was killed as a result of an argument about his sexuality and gender appearance, but police have yet to confirm this, saying that the motive is as yet unknown.

He told Mambaonline that the police in the area are ill-equipped to deal appropriately with a hate crime.

“These people [the police] are not reliable. They don’t even know what a hate crime is. If you ask them if it was related to his sexuality they will say ‘no’ because they don’t understand the context,” Griqua insisted.

Global Post adds:

In a statement, Cosatu’s Northern Cape secretary Anele Gxoyiya condemned “this brutal attack on a young, brilliant and educated soul whose head was chopped off in a hate crime.”

While South Africa is one of the few countries in the world to extend equal rights to homosexuals, and the only nation in Africa to allow same-sex marriage, the reality of life in townships and rural areas for gays and lesbians has been one of often brutal violence.

In a high-profile incident last year, Noxolo Nogwaza, a lesbian activist based in KwaThema township near Johannesburg, was gang-raped and then stabbed and stoned to death, in what the New York-based group Human Rights Watch described as part of an “epidemic” of hate crimes against gays and lesbians in South Africa.

Politics Web published a statement in response to the murder, by Lindiwe Mazibuko MP, Democratic Alliance Parliamentary Leader:

This violent and gruesome assault is yet another reminder that many of our country’s people are still denied the basic rights and freedoms which our Constitution enshrines.

There is a spate of homophobic hate crimes which have recently taken place across our country, including the repugnant and unconscionable crime of so-called “corrective rape” committed against lesbian South African women.

At this time, South Africa needs strong leadership from President Jacob Zuma, and an indication of his commitment to ensuring that all South Africans are able to live their lives free from fear of discrimination or violence.

Unfortunately, the silence from the Presidency has been deafening. This silence is made worse by the fact that President Zuma has in the past shown himself to be prejudiced towards homosexuals.

Last year, the DA welcomed the establishment of a government-led Joint Task Team on a “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Intervention Strategy”, established in September 2011, under the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

Unfortunately, this task team has yet to make any report on its work.

Meanwhile, the spate of crimes continues.

President Zuma must speak out against this weekend’s horrific murder, and the many others like it, which are in danger of becoming all too commonplace in our country today.

I will today be calling for a debate in Parliament about the prevalence of these crimes in South Africa, and calling on MPs to discuss what can be done by the government to address this ongoing problem.

In addition, I will also be writing to the President to ask what immediate steps his government will be taking to address the violence and intimidation that homosexual South Africans must face on a daily basis.

Such crimes, and the President’s silence on them, cannot be allowed to continue.

Hat-tip: Towleroad

 

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‘Giddily Bouncing Off the Walls’: Legal Experts Predict Trump Conviction

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With the jury dismissed for the day after more than four hours of deliberations and a series of notes to Judge Juan Merchan, legal experts are predicting Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg will win his case against Donald Trump, and see jurors convict the ex-president on 34 criminal counts. The ex-president is on trial for allegedly falsifying  business records as a means to cover-up a conspiracy scheme to promote his election to the Presidency by “unlawful means.”

“If I were in the DA’s office I’d be giddily bouncing off the walls right now,” attorney George Conway wrote on social media late Wednesday afternoon.

Minutes later attorney Tristan Snell, who helped secure the New York Attorney General’s $25 million settlement in the Trump University civil case, also predicted a likely Trump conviction:

“BREAKING: Trump jury asks for testimony transcripts, including 3 sections from David Pecker and 1 section from Michael Cohen. VERY bad sign for Trump that David Pecker’s testimony landed with the jury and is something they want to focus on. Jury is likely leaning toward GUILTY.”

READ MORE: ‘No Moral Compass’: Legal Experts Call for Intervention After Alito Refuses to Recuse

National security attorney Brad Moss, appearing on CNN Wednesday afternoon said, “I don’t expect a hung jury but if we get into Friday, or even next week Monday, it certainly would appear that would be more likely what’s going on. But if we have a decision tomorrow, my expectation is it will be a guilty verdict.”

Yale Law School professor of law and professor of philosophy Scott Shapiro offered this short statement:

If Donald Trump is convicted he may be the least surprised, as he appeared to predict a conviction Wednesday morning: “Mother Theresa could not beat these charges,” he told reporters.

The jury returns Thursday at 9:30 AM.

See the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Biggest Felony in American History’: Prosecutor’s Closing Argument Against Trump Praised

Image via Shutterstock

 

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‘No Moral Compass’: Legal Experts Call for Intervention After Alito Refuses to Recuse

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has formally refused to recuse from any and all cases involving indicted ex-president Donald Trump or the January 6, 2021 attack on the seat of the American government and American democracy itself. Legal experts and elected Democrats, including the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has oversight responsibility of the nation’s highest court, have demanded the George W. Bush-appointed jurist’s recusal. Now, some legal experts say either the Chief Justice or the Senate Judiciary Committee must intervene.

Justice Alito is standing by his now thoroughly debunked story about why a flag associated with the insurrection and the “Stop the Steal” conspiracy was flying at his home just three days before Joe Biden was inaugurated president, and a different, Christian nationalist flag also associated with those efforts to overthrow the government and disenfranchise 81 million Americans was flying at another of his homes.

Responding to a letter sent to Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Alito in his own letter wrote he was “required” to reject Democrats’ request and not recuse himself, despite numerous legal experts citing both law and precedent, declaring he at least should, or must, recuse himself.

Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, who writes about the courts and the law, pushed back on Justice Alito’s claim.

READ MORE: ‘Biggest Felony in American History’: Prosecutor’s Closing Argument Against Trump Praised

“Alito reads the Supreme Court’s totally voluntary, non-binding ethics guidelines to impose a seemingly mandatory ‘obligation’ that he sit on any case he’s not recused from.”

Professor of law Steve Vladeck, a CNN contributor, appeared to take that one strep further: “Justice Alito’s insistence in his letters to Congress that he has an ‘obligation to sit’ in the January 6 cases *because* the Code of Conduct says so is an interesting data point for those who have insisted that the Code doesn’t impose *any* requirements on the justices.”

Journalist, author, and foreign policy, national security and political affairs analyst and commentator David Rothkopf observed, “Alito, by saying he should not recuse, demonstrates clearly why he should not be on the court in the first place.”

The New York Times’ Michael Barbaro notes, “As with his statement to the NYT, Alito in his response to Congress never disavows the meaning of the upside down flag that flew over his house for days or its link to the Jan 6th riot/Stop The Steal movement that was at its height during this period. Notably, Alito does deny that link with the Appeal To Heaven flag, but not the upside down flag.”

Saying Alito is “really is a piece of work,” attorney and former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa suggested the justice is flipping the script: “Alito does a Reverse Uno, suggesting that people calling for his recusal are trying to influence the outcome of cases before the Court.”

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a government watchdog, noted: “That Justice Alito responded *at all* to the demand that he recuse from these cases shows the gravity of his misconduct. But this response changes nothing about the ethical issue here. Since he will not recuse on his own, Chief Justice Roberts should intervene.”

READ MORE: Supreme Court ‘Puppetmaster’ Slammed Over Report He’s Flying Alito’s ‘Theocratic’ Flag Again

Constitutional law scholar and professor of law Eric Segall served up a scathing assessment: “To be clear, if we found a love letter written to Donald Trump from Sam Alito saying, ‘Can’t wait till you’re back in office,’ Alito still would not recuse. He has no moral compass at all.”

The Atlantic’s Ronald Brownstein suggests Democrats will need to take further action: “Alito’s dismissive response, which [Chief Justice John] Roberts is unlikely to challenge in any way, has placed the ball squarely in the court of @SenatorDurbin, @SenSchumer and Senate Democrats.”

CNN’s Edward-Isaac Dovere, posting a screenshot of Donald Trump’s response to the justice’s decision to not recuse, writes: “Trump thanks Alito for not recusing himself from cases pending about Trump after Alito’s being criticized for a flag flying at his house that has been interpreted as a sign of support for Trump.”

See the social media post above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Wildly Lawless’: Judge Cannon’s Removal Predicted by Top Legal Scholar

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‘Doesn’t Know Most Basic Rule’: Conway Blasts Cannon Over ‘Perplexed’ Reaction

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U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon suffered more strong criticism, this time from attorney George Conway who blasted the Trump-appointed jurist over a New York Times report in which, he said, she appeared to not understand the basics of a criminal rule.

Judge Cannon is already under fire after likely delaying until after the 2024 presidential election one of the most important cases in American jurisprudence – an ex-president, his party’s presumptive nominee, running again for the White House, charged under the Espionage Act with unlawful removal and retention of some of the nation’s top classified documents, including nuclear secrets.

On Tuesday, a top legal scholar declared a recent Cannon ruling against Special Counsel Jack Smith’s motion to expand the limits on the ex-president’s release, “wildly lawless.” He also predicted it would result in her removal from the Trump Espionage Act case, also known as the classified documents case.

On Wednesday, attorney Conway responded to a portion of that New York Times profile of Judge Cannon.

READ MORE: ‘Liar’: Critics Question Alito’s Integrity After His Insurrection Flag Story Disintegrates

“The portrait that has emerged so far,” The Times reported, “is that of an industrious but inexperienced and often insecure judge whose reluctance to rule decisively even on minor matters has permitted one of the country’s most important criminal cases to become bogged down in a logjam of unresolved issues.”

“Regardless of her motives, Judge Cannon has effectively imperiled the future of a criminal prosecution that once seemed the most straightforward of the four Mr. Trump is facing,” The Times continued. “She has largely accomplished this by granting a serious hearing to almost every issue — no matter how far-fetched — that Mr. Trump’s lawyers have raised, playing directly into the former president’s strategy of delaying the case from reaching trial.”

Conway was responding to an exchange “that occurred last week when Judge Cannon was debating with Jay Bratt, one of the prosecutors, about a common theory of legal liability called the Pinkerton rule. The rule holds that all members of a conspiracy can be held accountable for any crimes committed by their co-conspirators.”

“Mr. Bratt said the rule would likely apply to Mr. Trump’s dealings with his two co-defendants, Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira, employees of Mar-a-Lago who have been accused of conspiring with the former president to obstruct the government’s repeated efforts to retrieve the classified materials,” The Times’ story stated. “Judge Cannon seemed a bit perplexed and asked Mr. Bratt what authority he intended to rely on in applying the Pinkerton rule. Mr. Bratt seemed almost sheepish in having to lay things out for her so simply.”

READ MORE: Supreme Court ‘Puppetmaster’ Slammed Over Report He’s Flying Alito’s ‘Theocratic’ Flag Again

“’So the authority is Pinkerton,’ he said, and launched into a quick explanation.”

Conway, appearing to express shock, wrote: “There are no words for this. Judge Cannon doesn’t know the most basic rule governing criminal conspiracies.”

See the social media post above or at this link.

 

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