Thapelo Makutle, was found dead on June 9 with his throat cut. and body mutliated
Friends of the victim and rights groups have however warned Makutle’s murder was a hate crime. Facebook

A 23-year-old young gay South African man was killed and his body severely mutilated in an apparent hate crime.

Authorities said Thapelo Makutle, who lived in the Northern Cape Province was found dead on June 9 with his throat cut.

Police said they are investigating the case as a murder and the motive is unknown. They have yet to make any arrests.

Friends of the victim and rights groups have however warned Makutle's murder was a hate crime.

The 23-year-old worked in a furniture shop and also worked volunteered for the Legbo Northern Cape, a lobby group for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT).

Witnesses said two men approached Makutle, who had just left a club and was heading home, and questioned him about his sexual orientation and his appearance. According to these unconfirmed accounts the two men then followed him home.

Shaine Griqua, director of Legbo Northern Cape, said the group was trying to determine the exact circumstances of the young man's death.

"His throat was so badly slit, and it was near decapitation" Legbo said in a statement.

"Unconfirmed reports from witnesses state that Thapelo's genitalia was severed and inserted into his mouth," the statement added before continuing "There are no signs that this was an attempted burglary, rather [it] is evident that [he] was killed because of his sexual orientation."

Makutle, who was also known as "ThaBling" and "Queen Bling" was a "well-mannered and principled human being," Griqua told South African website MambaOnline.

"It's so sad. I can't describe the pain that we are feeling right now," Griqua said. "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."

The killing was condemned by politicians with Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSETU) Northern Cape secretary Anele Gxoyiya condemning "this brutal attack on a young, brilliant and educated soul whose head was chopped off in a hate crime" in a statement.

Lindiwe Mazibuko, parliamentary leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance, also described the attack as a hate crime and warned of an increase in similar homophobic crimes.

"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," she said.

South Africa guarantees the equal rights of LGBT people but homophobic hate crimes and attacks on LGBT are still common.

Last year, the murder of lesbian activist Noxolo Nogwaza was highly publicised. She was gang-raped, stabbed and stoned to death.

Traditionalists group such as the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa, have also called on the equal rights clause for LGBT people to be removed from the constitution.

Makutle's funeral is set to take place on June 16 Saturday in Kuruman, Northern Cape province.