An award winning photographer who has devoted her working life
to documenting the lives of black lesbians has had five years worth
of her work stolen.
Zanele Muholi, described by the Open Society Initiative
for Southern Africa as "one of the country's foremost artists", had
more than 20 external hard drives stolen from her flat in
Vredehoek, Cape Town on April 20.
The hard drives contain stills and video footage, including
photos from the funerals of victims of homophobic hate crimes. It
is thought that the burglars were targeting Muholi's work, as
little else was taken from her flat, and back up hard drives were
Muholi's partner Liesl Theron, with whom she shares the flat,
said that her possessions were left untouched, except for a laptop
which was stolen, further fuelling belief that Muholi was the
intended target of the crime.
The work taken had been captured across South Africa, Zimbabwe,
Uganda and Malawi, according to the Cape Times. Also stolen was
work due to be shown at an exhibition in July, which Muholi
believes she will now have to cancel.
Despite the volume of work stolen and the imminence of the
planned exhibition, Muholi's plight has been largely ignored by the
media. It is believed that the lack of publicity is due to the
nature of her work, which shows a different side to the black
lesbian community than that usually represented in the mainstream
"I'm not myself. I can't even sleep at night since I've heard
about the burglary," the devastated Muholi told DIVA. She has
appealed for anyone who knows the whereabouts of the hard drives to
Queer photographer Del LaGrace Volcano said of the theft;
"Zanele's work is, in my not so humble opinion, some of the most
important work being produced, not just in Africa, but anywhere. I
consider her a dear friend and mourn the loss of her archive as if
it were my own."
Zanele's supporters are fundraising to help her replace the
stolen equipment. Donations can be made online at IndieGoGo.
The investigation into the burglary is ongoing, according to a