Transgender woman sues church for R5m after alleged assault

The transgender woman was allegedly taken to a bathroom, forced to strip, assaulted and then left bleeding on the floor.

The gallery of the GaRankuwa Equality Court was awash with rainbow flags yesterday, with members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersexed community (LGBTQI) community coming out in their numbers to support a local transgender woman who was allegedly stripped naked and assaulted by elders at the International Pentecostal Holiness Church (IPHC).

It has been more than five years since Karabo Ndlovu first opened a case with the police but to date, no-one has been arrested.

So now the 42-year-old is taking justice into her own hands and suing the IPHC for R5 million. She also wants an unconditional apology.

The case first came before the court in October, but the church was a no-show and so it was postponed to 2 December. However, the church again failed to pitch yesterday and the case had to be postponed to early next year. If it isn’t present on the next scheduled court date, a ruling could be made in the IPHC’s absence.

But in the meantime, the church’s apparent disinterest in the case has left Ndlovu gutted.

“It feels like they just don’t care,” she said yesterday.

But she added she was grateful for the community’s support. Ndlovu had gender reassignment surgery in 2012. She joined the IPHC’s Tweefontein G branch a year later and subsequently became engaged.

But shortly after the church learnt of her pending nuptials, Ndlovu said, she was summoned to an office at the Zuurbekom
branch to answer to the priest and a group of elders who wanted to – as she described it – “check my sexuality”.

She said she was allegedly taken to a bathroom, forced to strip, assaulted and then left bleeding on the floor. Her then fiancé left her
shortly afterwards.

The Citizen first reported on Ndlovu’s case earlier this year. The IPHC did not respond to a request for comment at the time.

Fresh attempts to get in touch with the chair of the church’s executive council, Abiel Wessie, were also unsuccessful yesterday.


For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits