South Africa: Uyinene's Family - Her Murder Is 'The Most Inconceivable and Catastrophic Time of Our Lives'

Demonstrators protesting violence against women and demanding to see President Cyril Ramaphosa clash with police outside the Cape Town Convention Centre where the World Economic Forum on Africa summit is being held.
4 September 2019

Uyinene Mrwetyana's grieving family has described her murder as the "most inconceivable and catastrophic time of our lives".

Expressing their gratitude for the outpouring of love and support received from the University of Cape Town and the country at large, her aunt, Nombulelo Kokha, said at a campus memorial service on Wednesday that their beloved Nene was the apple of her loved ones' eyes.

"She only knew love and thus demonstrated it in the manner she lived and how she showed up daily," Kokha said on behalf of the family.

"Her light will forever shine in our hearts as she gazes down from the heavens."

She expressed the family's thanks to the university community, especially those who prayed and "literally went to look for Uyinene".

The Mrwetyanas challenged the government, communities, fathers, brothers, uncles and nephews to "pronounce their firm stand against perpetrators who commit such tragic acts against women".

A sea of black at #UyineneMrwetyana's memorial service. UCT has declared today a day of mourning and activism against sexual and gender-based violence. @TeamNews24 pic.twitter.com/qmBmh0y9OR-- Tammy Petersen (@TammyPetersen87) September 4, 2019

A sea of black at #UyineneMrwetyana's memorial service. UCT has declared today a day of mourning and activism against sexual and gender-based violence. @TeamNews24 pic.twitter.com/qmBmh0y9OR-- Tammy Petersen (@TammyPetersen87) September 4, 2019

On Tuesday night, a house in I-Section, Khayelitsha - believed to belong to the 42-year-old suspect - was torched by residents.

A sea of black at #UyineneMrwetyana's memorial service. UCT has declared today a day of mourning and activism against sexual and gender-based violence. @TeamNews24 pic.twitter.com/qmBmh0y9OR-- Tammy Petersen (@TammyPetersen87) September 4, 2019

According to ward councillor Patrick Mgxunyeni, locals "decided that they were tired of inaction when it comes to gender-based violence, particularly women".

A sea of black at #UyineneMrwetyana's memorial service. UCT has declared today a day of mourning and activism against sexual and gender-based violence. @TeamNews24 pic.twitter.com/qmBmh0y9OR-- Tammy Petersen (@TammyPetersen87) September 4, 2019

The suspect has a past robbery conviction as well as a rape charge that was later withdrawn.

A sea of black at #UyineneMrwetyana's memorial service. UCT has declared today a day of mourning and activism against sexual and gender-based violence. @TeamNews24 pic.twitter.com/qmBmh0y9OR-- Tammy Petersen (@TammyPetersen87) September 4, 2019

Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said an investigation had been ordered into how the suspect was employed at the public facility despite having a criminal record.

A sea of black at #UyineneMrwetyana's memorial service. UCT has declared today a day of mourning and activism against sexual and gender-based violence. @TeamNews24 pic.twitter.com/qmBmh0y9OR-- Tammy Petersen (@TammyPetersen87) September 4, 2019

At the memorial service, Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training Buti Manamela said Mrwetyana should be in the institution's lecture halls listening to academia's best.

A sea of black at #UyineneMrwetyana's memorial service. UCT has declared today a day of mourning and activism against sexual and gender-based violence. @TeamNews24 pic.twitter.com/qmBmh0y9OR-- Tammy Petersen (@TammyPetersen87) September 4, 2019

"Nene should be here writing her tests and examinations. Nene should be here spending long hours in the library. Nene should be here hanging out with friends at the food court. Nene should be here clutching her gown and graduation cap as she prepares to leave these hallowed halls for the workplace.

A sea of black at #UyineneMrwetyana's memorial service. UCT has declared today a day of mourning and activism against sexual and gender-based violence. @TeamNews24 pic.twitter.com/qmBmh0y9OR-- Tammy Petersen (@TammyPetersen87) September 4, 2019

"But all of that was brutally taken away from her. What should have been a routine errand of posting a letter proved to be anything but routine. It proved to be life-taking."

A sea of black at #UyineneMrwetyana's memorial service. UCT has declared today a day of mourning and activism against sexual and gender-based violence. @TeamNews24 pic.twitter.com/qmBmh0y9OR-- Tammy Petersen (@TammyPetersen87) September 4, 2019

He said a "growing toxic masculinity" was becoming institutionalised.

"Men, pay attention. Violence against women is not a women's issue. Our silence and lack of action fuels the violence-against-women epidemic. Instead of saying something, we say nothing. Instead of doing something, we do nothing.

"If we are silent, then we are fuelling this toxic masculinity and we are part of the problem."

Institutional policies should, among others, name and shame perpetrators beyond dealing with their crimes in institutional structures and through the judicial systems, Manamela said.

"This, however, is a societal issue. We have to start by accepting that we men who commit these sexual crimes stay in the same house, in the same street, in the same village and town, are in the same workplace, in the same church, wear the same suits, wear the same academic regalia, and may seem to be the most respectable in our society," he added.

UCT chancellor Graca Machel, too, encouraged the naming and shaming of perpetrators.

After the service, students gathered for an assembly, where a number of women identified their alleged assailants who were ordered to leave the "safe space".

Source: News24

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