Mourners attend the funeral of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana at Abbotsford Christian Centre in East London. Picture: Bheki Radebe/African News Agency

Johannesburg - She had taken the healthy habit route by exercising, not eating meat, drinking only water, and died while busy planning to take her family out for outdoor hiking and wine tasting on her mother’s birthday.

This is according to Esona Mrwetyana, a brother of slain UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana (19), who was brutally killed and raped inside a Clareinch Post Office in Cape Town, allegedly by a 42-year-old man who was an employee there.

Thousands of mourners, including government ministers, converged at East London’s Abbotsford Christian Centre on Saturday to attend the sombre funeral of the first-year student who was pursuing her BA degree in media and film studies.

Mourners included UCT vice-chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, Police Minister Bheki Cele, Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane, Higher Education and Training Deputy Minister Buti Manamela and EFF leader Julius Malema, to name but a few.

Her family described her with many nicknames.

Some called her “Nene” while others called “Uyi” or “Uyi-Uyi”.

Those fond of her talked of a young woman who was opposed to gender-based violence.

Cele even told mourners that Mrwetyana fought her alleged killer not once, but twice.

Esona said: “Uyinene was very unique, genuine and honest. Last time I spoke to her she was telling me she has plans she had made to celebrate my mother’s birthday. She wanted us to go hiking. Among other things she had also planned was for us to go wine tasting.”

She loved music and excelled at playing saxophone.

“Uyi loved music. She played piano and was excellent on saxophone. She had taken an all-new healthy lifestyle. When you go to the kitchen you would find a jug full of water with amagqabi (leaves).”

Uyinene’s mother, Nomangwane Mrwetyana, said she would go for the wine-tasting to honour her daugher. She also said she would establish an Uyinene Foundation to help victims of gender-based violence.

“Uyi, you promised me a makeover, who will play that role for me? We had plans for your wine-tasting outing, because you wanted me to explore new things because I was very boring according to you. I will still go for wine tasting my angel, as I promised you. I will miss our chats and your challenging of patriarchy,” said Nomangwane.

Nomangwane apologised to her daughter for not warning her about the post office.

“I am sorry that I warned you about other places but not the post office. I am sorry I was not there to protect you. I promise to take the baton and continue fighting the gender-based violence.

“I promise to establish an Uyinene Foundation and protect all girls from gender-based violence.”

Uyinene’s father, Mabhele Mrwetyana, said: “We both loved jazz. We would converse about jazz and politics. You were inspired by Steve Biko on the principle of identity. You unified the family. You loved outdoor activities. You were always opposed to any form of violence, especially gender-based violence.”

Meanwhile, Phakeng announced the university would establish an Uyinene Mrwetyana Schorlaship for Women in Humanities.

“Our community, actually, has started giving to the scholarship. No child died without a legacy. Uyinene lived her life to the fullest.

“Your loss is our loss,” said Phakeng.

Manamela said their department has developed a policy framework and strategy to address gender-based violence at tertiary institutions.

“It takes a Karabo Mokoena or Zolile Khumalo or Uyinene Mrwetyana to wake us up.

“And yet, the daily reality is, according to research from Higher Health, 62% of students feel unsafe on campus and say they are at high risk to GBV, 28% of males and 27% of females (aged 15-19) believed that a girl did not have the right to refuse sex with her boyfriend and 55% of males and 54% of females thought that ‘sexual violence does not include forcing sex with someone you know’.

“The focus is to prevent gender-based violence from happening as well as to correct, monitor and report on it,” Manamela said.

Uyinene, who was laid to rest at her ancestral home of Qina in Centane, is survived by her parents and brother.

Sunday Independent