Cape Town – There is growing anxiety over the whereabouts of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana, who went missing on Saturday.
Two more investigators – hired by the university and the management of Roscomm House student residence in Claremont, where she lives – have joined private investigator Noel Pratten, employed by Mrwetyana's East London family, in the search for the 19-year-old film and media studies student.
This has led to a 42-year-old Claremont man being arrested on Friday morning, but the search for Mrwetyana continues.
“SAPS detectives have been hard at work pursuing several leads. In the early hours of Friday morning, the team, supported by Western Cape Flying Squad members, arrested a 42 year old suspect in Claremont.
“An extensive investigation is currently underway to determine the whereabouts of the missing person. All avenues are being looked into, including the place where she was last seen,” said Western Cape police spokesperson Brigadier Novela Potelwa.
Police said they were confident the man’s arrest would bring them closer to the whereabouts of the 19-year-old.
“We are confident the interviewing of the 42-year-old will eventually lead to the finalisation of the investigation, thereby bringing an end to days of uncertainty for her family, friends and all others concerned,” said Potelwa.
The police also said a DNA test and an autospy was to be performed on an unidentified body that was discovered in Khayelitsha on Monday. The police said this was in an effort to determine the identity and cause of death of that person.
Potelwa said the suspect would appear in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
UCT spokesperson Elijah Maholola said in a statement on Thursday: “UCT is deeply concerned by the disappearance of Mrwetyana and supporting the investigation is our top priority.
"The university is exhausting all possible avenues and is working closely with the family and all law enforcement authorities.
"In addition to the work being carried out by the police and UCT’s campus protection services, three private investigators have been appointed by the family, the university and Roscomm House respectively.
“We have kept the family updated on all measures put in place and assured them we are doing everything possible to ensure that Mrwetyana – known as Nene – is found.
"Both the family and UCT remain hopeful that Ms Mrwetyana will be found soon.”
A well-attended candlelight vigil was held for Mrwetyana on the steps of Jameson Hall at UCT on Wednesday night and concern over the safety of women in South Africa has been expressed on social media.
Carly Hendricks posted on Twitter: "Cape Town is the hub of human trafficking and SA Police Service is doing absolutely NOTHING about it. We are slowly dying; one by one."
Megg Baillie said: "Can we all just stop ignoring the fact that a 19 year old girl has gone missing in broad daylight #bringNenehome."
"I wish there was more that I could physically do for Uyinene. The state of womxn’s safety in this country is terrifying. I pray that she’s found safe and unharmed in the near future," @lightbeams posted.
Khaya Dlanga said: "So when I see these #bringNenehome I can’t but also think about what could have also happened to my friend. Women live in constant and ever present fear.
"I pray that Nene May be found unharmed. Because I am getting scared and worried for her and many other women."
EFF Western Cape posted: "19 year old Uyinene Mrwetyana has been missing since Saturday afternoon. We live in a world where young women cannot even walk on the streets without fearing they won't make it home."
Kelly Shaw posted on Twitter: "Just thought I’d share this chat between my mother and I about Nene. There is a war against black womxn in our country. I can’t stress this enough."
Mrwetyana matriculated at the prestigious Kingswood College in Makhanda and her mother works at Rhodes University. Her parents, Philip and Noma, are staying in a Cape Town hotel after flying in from East London earlier this week.
Pratten, who assisted in the search for the slain Meghan Cremer earlier this month, said on Thursday support from the student body and police had been "fantastic", TimesLive reported.
"We are following up on several leads. We are making progress. We have quite a lot of boots on the ground. UCT has called in a private investigation team that will be working with us.
"We are getting a lot of support from all walks of life. The students have been amazing. SAPS have been fantastic. They are putting in around 18 hours a day on this."
Mrwetyana was last seen at Clareinch Post Office in Claremont in Imam Haron Road (formerly Lansdowne Road) around lunchtime on Saturday.
Anyone with information on Mrwetyana's whereabouts is urged to contact Pratten on 084 762 5913 or the SAPS on 021 657 2250. Mrwetyana is about 1.7m tall and was last seen wearing brown pants and carrying a black handbag.