Family mourns Gugulethu mom who died after being set alight in alleged domestic dispute
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Cape Town - A woman who worked for the Department of Community Safety, checking if police stations are sensitive to gender-base violence victims, became a victim of gender-based violence herself when she was set alight, allegedly by her boyfriend, and died on Monday.
40-year-old Jacquelene Mpontsana was set alight in a domestic violence dispute. She was initially rushed to hospital, and family, friends and colleagues had hoped that she would recover from her severe injuries.
Unfortunately, she died on Monday afternoon.
Her distraught uncle, Mncedisi Mpontsana, said the family was having difficulty coming to terms with the horrific manner in which she had died.
Mncedisi said that Jacquelene Mpontsana, who was a breadwinner in the family, had a 13-year-old child. He said they were informed by the boyfriend’s family early on Monday.
"We did not expect something like this to happen to her, she fought so hard against gender-based violence, for her to die this way. You burn something that is no longer valuable to you, to us she was valuable. The guy could have let her go if she had no value to him, not just set her alight like she was an item,” said Mncedisi.
The boyfriend's aunt, who witnessed the incident, said Mpontsana used to visit them, and would sometimes sleep at their place. She said her nephew had been violent, and had also been violent towards his family.
"We had issues with him, and we did not even spend time with him, because of the violence."
She said her nephew arrived at home, and angrily asked for Mpontsana to come to him.
"We tried to stop him, until he left the house through a back door. He came back and threw petrol at her and in the house," she said.
Police spokesperson Andrè Traut said the circumstances surrounding Mpontsana's death were under investigation. Traut said the suspect had fled and had yet to be arrested.
Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz said they had been shaken by the terrible news.
"What makes her passing especially tragic is that her work entailed inspecting SAPS stations for their compliance to assist victims of domestic and gender-based violence. It is incredibly upsetting. But we have to go on. We cannot surrender in the face of this scourge. We have to keep fighting, for Mpontsana, and for every other victim like her,” said Fritz.
He said Mpontsana was first appointed in the Department of Community Safety in 2005, and had since then performed a number of different roles. She worked in a section in the department that dealt with complaints against the police, fulfilling the functions of secretary for both the Domestic Violence Compliance Forum and the Ipid Consultative Forum.
He said that over the years, Mpontsana had become one of the most experienced staff members in monitoring the police on compliance in terms of the Domestic Violence Act.
Her most recent manager, Werner Bezuidenhout, said: “It is for the directorate and me an absolute tragedy that Jacquelene was allegedly killed by her partner in an act of extreme domestic violence. She was an invaluable member of our team, and she will be sorely missed.”
Head of Department, Yashina Pillay, said it was with great sadness that they as a department were working through the news of Mpontsana’s death.
"As we work through coming to terms with this immense loss, we are comforted by the many happy memories that we have of her,” said Pillay.
Anyone with information that could help the investigation is urged to contact Crime Stop at 08600 10111 or via the MySAPSApp.