Cape Town – A fighter and affectionate person who only knew the language of love united thousands of mourners from all walks of life at UCT yesterday.
Uyinene Mrwetyana, fondly known as “Nene”, was remembered outside the Sarah Baartman Hall during a special memorial service.
Mrwetyana was raped and murdered on the same day she went missing, August 24. A 42-year-old man employed by the Clareinch post office in Claremont confessed to her rape and murder.
He allegedly dumped her body in Lingelethu West, Khayelitsha.
Dressed in black, mourners placed flowers at the podium while others had placards calling for the death penalty.
The attendees included family, friends, UCT vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng, UCT council Sipho Pityana and EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Mrwetyana’s aunt, Nombulelo Kokha, expressed gratitude for the outpouring of love and support from the institution and the country during the most “inconceivable and catastrophic time of our lives”.
“Today we celebrate the beauty in her eyes, smile and love she showed to us and God. She was the apple of her loved ones’ eyes,” she said.
Kokha said her niece only knew love and demonstrated it in the manner with which she lived her life.
“We declare war. We declare war against such actions. Let Nene’s death and that of all other women and children who suffered at the hands of these rapists and murderers and any form of criminality against them not be in vain.
“But a constant reminder, a call to action, for our government and men and to end this scourge of violence against women,” Kokha said.
The university declared yesterday, a day of mourning as the university came together against sexual and gender-based violence.
An emotional outgoing UCT Chancellor Graça Machel urged everyone to take action to ensure that South Africa was a safe country. She pledged to start a programme at the institution in Mrwetyana’s memory.
“One thing we all have in common is that we are in pain, angry and need answers to what is happening in our society. We must do something that we will be accountable for.
"We have to do something. I call for all perpetrators to be named and shamed. I am the mother of a girl who lost her eye to gender-based violence.
"My daughter had two beautiful eyes and then a man raised his hand against her. Luckily she lived but sadly Nene didn’t.”