South African Transgender Activist Nare Mphela Murdered

Nare Mphela
Nare Mphela 2017 doc by Iranti Media / Youtube

Renowned transgender activist Nare Mphela,28, was found murdered Sunday in her South African home. As a high school student, Nare Mphela initiated and won the first transgender discrimination case in South African history.

Police were notified by residents who were suspicious that Mphela’s vehicle had been parked for a long time near the house, which had “a bad smell coming out of it”. According to News 24 her boyfriend was questioned and subsequently released by police.

“The deceased was found with multiple stab wounds and was already in a state of decomposition,” police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo said in a statement on Thursday.

South Africa LGBT community in a state of shock.

The principal of Raselete Secondary School was accused of encouraging learners to physically harass and humiliate Mphela, including asking them to “check” her genitals in the bathrooms. The abuse was so severe that it led to her failing matric at the end of 2014 laments Mamba Online columnist  Luiz DeBarros.

Nare Mphela
Nare Mphela 2017 doc by Iranti Media / Youtube

Represented by the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), she won the case in 2017 and was awarded R60,000 for pain and suffering and R40,000 for education and counseling costs. The principal was also ordered to attend sensitization training.

“When people read about my story they will understand how much pain I went through,” Nare Mphela told in a video (see below). “They will learn that if they have children like me, they mustn’t hide but be visible. We have the right to live our lives how we see fit.”

Johannesburg LGBT advocacy group Iranti wrote Iranti is devastated to share news of the murder of trans activist, Nare Mphela whose body was found on Sunday, 5 January 2020. Nare will affectionately be remembered and celebrated for the work she has done as an activist. In 2014 she took her principal and the Limpopo Department of Basic Education to the Equality Court for discriminating against her gender identity and expression. In 2017 she won this landmark case that would have real and positive influence on Transgender persons seeking a safe educational environment. As a friend and comrade of Iranti, she was loved for her humour and unwavering resilience. Iranti will be attending the funeral which will take place this Saturday, 11 January 2020. More details will be shared soon.

In 2014, Iranti-org made contact with Nare Mphela, a high school learner in Limpopo Province who faced multiple forms of discrimination from her school principal due to her gender identity.

Three years later, the Equality Court ruled in Nare’s favor, having found the principal and Limpopo Department of Education to have breached the Equality Act. This was a historic victory for queer South Africans nationwide!

R.I.P. Nare Mphela

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Kelli, Busey is managing editor at Planet Transgender


  1. Condolences are not enough, we need a global response. There are no words… I mourn the loss of Nare…Rusty, Stonewall ‘1969


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