Uyinene Mrwetyana Photo: Facebook

Cape Town – UCT vice-chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng and the university's executive has highlighted the fact that the "horrible incident" in which Uyinene Mrwetyana lost her life "is one of many where women – young and old, and even girls – are ripped from our communities in such a violent manner".

After a Post Office employee appeared in the Wynberg Magistrate's Court on Monday on rape and murder charges involving the 19-year-old media and film studies first-year student, Phakeng said: "It has now been confirmed that our student Uyinene Mrwetyana, fondly known as Nene, who had been missing, has died in tragic circumstances. 

"The fact that a young female student has been died in this horrific manner is devastating and it has shocked us to our core. 

"It is incomprehensible that a young life, with so much potential, has been stolen from her family and our community. It is even more distressing that this horrible incident is one of many where women – young and old, and even girls – are ripped from our communities in such a violent manner.

"Our thoughts are with Nene’s family, who have had to endure unimaginable suffering, pain and anxiety for the past week since their daughter went missing on Saturday, 24 August.

"Losing a child is one of the most painful experiences for a family, but to lose her in this manner is even more tragic and heart-breaking. 

"We met with the family last week and have been in constant communication with them. We will keep them in our thoughts and will do whatever we can to support them.

"We also recognise that Nene was a member of the UCT community and that many people in her residence, Roscommon House; in her class; in her faculty; and in the wider UCT community have been profoundly affected by this event. 

"Counselling assistance is available to staff and students who may feel overwhelmed by this tragedy: via the Human Resources Department for staff and Student Wellness for students.

"We also urge students experiencing any distress – whether from this news or any other challenges – to utilise the SADAG UCT Student Careline (0800 24 25 26), which is free from a Telkom line, or to SMS 31393 for a call back. This line offers 24/7 telephonic counselling, advice, referral facilities and general mental health support.

"The university executive remains deeply distressed by the unacceptable levels of violence perpetuated against women and the marginalised in South African society on a daily basis. 

"We hear too often of cases like this – it is a deep wound and we must all act together against this horrific scourge.

"The UCT executive will be meeting urgently to discuss how we can commemorate Nene’s life and the many in our society who are affected by violence.

"We have urged our staff and students to please reach out to each other and support one another in this time of immense sadness and mourning. We are preparing a memorial space on campus and will share further details shortly."