MUT unveiled a new housing project for students and also a fountain in memory of Zolile Khumalo. Founding father of MUT Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi. Minister Naledi Pando unveiled the housing project. Pictures: DNS/Jacoline Schoonees
Durban - A proposal is to be made to have the perpetrators of gender-based violence sentenced to life in prison.

This was revealed by ­Department of International ­Relations and Co-operation, Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, speaking in her capacity as Chancellor of Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) when she attended a triple event at the university at the weekend.

The day marked the opening of a 640-bed residence at the uMlazi campus, the inauguration of Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Enoch Duma Malaza, and a commemoration of the life of slain student ­Zolile Khumalo.

Malaza was appointed on the day Khumalo - who was in her first year of studying quantity surveying - was shot dead in her room at an off-campus residence in May.

Her alleged attacker, ex-boyfriend Thabani Mzolo, is due back in court on Wednesday.

“I can’t imagine what the parents must be going through, the anguish they’ve gone through. I spent some time with them and I couldn’t find the words to console them,” ­Sisulu said, adding that providing student accommodation security was always a priority.

“In this case we were unable to provide the necessary security for this poor little girl and we are tormented by that. We are now here to make sure that our children live in security and comfort,” said Sisulu.

A fountain in memory of Khumalo was also unveiled. Sisulu said the fountain was a token of the university’s regret at her death.

“It’s unbelievable that this could happen to a young girl...the message that we want to send out - especially this being the month of August, the month we dedicate to women - is that we would like to propose a law through Parliament that anyone who kills a woman would get a life sentence. That means the duration of their lives, not just the 15 years that is statutorily regarded as a life sentence.

“This is a most heinous crime, men’s violence should be checked somehow. If we give tougher sentences, perhaps we might send a message that it is completely intolerable.”

Sisulu urged MUT students, especially women, to attend Mzolo’s trial.

In a statement to The Mercury last month, attorney Charl Claassen, said his client, Mzolo, had handed him written instructions to bring to the public’s knowledge, especially to the deceased’s family, that he would be pleading guilty to Khumalo’s murder.

Sisulu said she hoped Mzolo was remorseful and got the sentence he deserved.

She described Khumalo’s murder as a reflection the societal violence brought upon women time and time again.

“It is a most unacceptable way for society to be. Men had better get used to the fact that women are making strides, we are in the majority and they have to live with the fact that they will get challenged and their physical strength is not going to help them,” said Sisulu.

Zolile’s parents, Comfort and Philisiwe Khumalo, also attended.

The Mercury