Contributed by LAWAL MARYAM OLATUNDUN
On the fateful day, Monday 2nd of September 2019, the University of Cape Town mourned her beloved first year student, Uyinene Mrwetyana. Following Uyinene’s death, several demonstrations and protests against homicide were held across South Africa. On one of the demonstrations/protests which happened in front of the South African Parliament in Cape Town on September 4, 2019, the South African President Cyril Ramphosa was present and he spoke on the issue. Students of the University of Witwatersrand protested also.
Uyinene Mrwetyana, a 19-year old girl born on April 20, 2000 went missing on the 24th August, 2019. An intense search occurred afterwards in the following days. As the desperate search for Nene as she was fondly called enters its fourth day, the Mrwetyana family employed the services of Private Investigator Noel Prattern. In a week of Uyinene’s disappearance, three private investigators joined the Western Cape Town Police in the search. UCT hired two more private investigators to find her missing student. After several dedicated investigations, she was reportedly last seen on 24th August 2019, wearing brown pants, carrying a black handbag and leaving Roscommon Housel (an off-campus residence in Claremont) around 14:00 and was again seen around 17:00 at or near a hair salon in Mowbray. Prior to this, TIMES LIVE reported that she had been seen at the Clareinch post office a few hours earlier receiving a parcel. UCT students held a night vigil for their fellow missing Film and Media Student, Uyinene Mrwetyana.
A 42-year old man was arrested, as he was suspected to be connected with the disappearance. The Police interviewed the man to extract information concerning the whereabouts of Uyinene and afterwards, he allegedly confessed to the crime and indicated to investigators where the body was hidden.
On Monday 2nd September, the dreadful news, Uyinene’s death was confirmed. Uyinene’s body was discovered in the township of Lingelethu West in Khayelitsha, at the moment it was discovered her body was at first unidentified so DNA tests and an autopsy were being carried out to identify and verify the identity of the body. Uyinene’s murder was an highlight of the common problem of the Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) and Homicide in South Africa. Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) has been a continuous national issue in South Africa for years, of which 3,915 women and children being victims in 2018.
The cause of Uyinene’s death was murder by bludgeoning. The State allegedly reported that her killer Luyanda Botha, a former Clareinch Post office worker had bludgeoned Uyinene’s Mrwetyana with a scale after luring her inside the post office. She had allegedly fought back but was knocked unconscious. The Court heard, Uyinene Mrwetyana had gone to the Clareinch post office to collect a parcel shortly after 2pm, but was told to come back later as the power already went off. When she returned, the accused was there alone. He allegedly invited her in on the pretext of being of assistance but then locked both him and Uyinen inside and moved on to assaulting her. During one of the court hearings (The Wynberg Magistrate’s Court), it was stated that blood was found in the post office and in the man’s car.
The Clareinch Post office where the UCT Film and Media Student Uyinene Mrwetyana was killed closed its doors after a walk-in. A hastily printed notice with the words “Closed due to unforeseen circumstances” was placed on the doors of the post office. Several bunches of flowers were placed at surroundings of the Post Office along with cards for Uyinene Mrwetyana with groups of people, workers, mothers, parents assembled there weeping over the tragic news.
The above picture is a picture of the Clareinch Post office where Uyinene Mrwetyana was murdered. The University and community commenced a period of mourning in Uyinene’s honour. Prayer circles, night vigils, candle nights, protest actions and a memorial were held in her honour. Recently, Uyinene’s mother launched a foundation in her daughter’s name which is targeted to create a platform to fight against SGBV.
As a lady, learning about the tragic end of UCT, South Africa’s Uyinene’s Mrwetyana death made me afraid and anger raging inside of me. I sincerely hope this sexual and gender-based violence will be seriously tackled and prevented at all levels and I pray for our females be safe. #SayNO #RiseAgainstSGBV #JustNO.