Say his name: Kirvan Fortuin

Article by: Gontse Seakamela


Another senseless murder shuddered the queer, dance, and artistic world with the death of KirvanFortuin in Maccassar, Cape Town. On the second weekend of Pride month, Fortuin was stabbed and passed away on the way to the nearby hospital. The assailant is said to be a 14-year girl who has been arrested and indicted under the Child Justice Act.

Proudly residing between South Africa and the Netherlands, and having danced for a Dutch company, Fortuin was a force to be reckoned with and a national treasure. At just 28, Fortuin had already established his foundation and performed on numerous world stages. He was a giant of note and an activist for the queer community. It is said that he was also passionate about improving the lives of the less privileged in this community. Sadly, the world has been robbed of great talent and heart.

Whilst a case of murder has been opened for investigation against the 14-year offender, one cannot help but recognise the realities that, akin to black lives in the USA, the recognition and protection of queer lives remains frail and cheap in our country. This has been evident in how his murder has been reported in mainstream media relative to other horrific gender-based violence of young ladies across our country. Yes, I said other, as it is high time that gender-based violence comprises queer incidences as these crimes are also fueled by hate of a particular group of people purely based on their physicality or and/or sexuality. The rest of the world has evolved to understand that “gender” is a term that embodies other sexual identities and can therefore no longer be seen in the narrow categorisation of “male” and female” only. For this reason, gender-based violence must include the diverse sexual identities in our society, and queer people are part of the South African civic society.

The media is one thing, however, the tone set at the top by our government concerning queer murders speaks volumes. At the government’s helm is President Cyril Ramaphosa, who during his speech that saw the introduction of what has been dubbed “lockdown Level three-lite”, easing restrictions on economic activities due to uncertainties related to Covid19, declared gender-based violence a “second pandemic”. This declaration is warranted as this country has for years experienced a scourge of gender-based violence across the gender spectrum. What struck a chord though was the little-to-no mention of queer GBV struggles and murders. He further shared that there is a National Strategic Plan on GBV and an allocation of R1.6 Billion to deal with gender-based violence, however, one wonders if the scope of this plan is inclusive enough to address GBV incidences in the queer community.

The Western Cape government must be commended for recognisingFortuin with a ministerial recommendation for Outstanding Contribution to Preservation and Promotion of an Indigenous Art Form in 2019. Western Cape cultural affairs MEC Anroux Marais has been quoted in the media speaking fondly of Fortuin and committing to continue to celebrate his legacy for many years to come.

How many more must die, are protests and riots the only language governments and society at large are able to listen to? Just as love has no gender, the gender-based violence spectrum must include queer murders. Rest in divine power…Let Us Say His Name…..KIRVAN FORTUIN!!!

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