Khensani Maseko
Khensani Maseko
Khensani Maseko
Khensani Maseko

Johannesburg - The family of the late Rhodes University student Khensani Maseko have described her as a sweet person.

It is believed Maseko committed suicide after she was raped in May this year. 

Tributes and messages of condolence from friends and loved ones have been pouring in on social media following the news of her death.

Maseko, who was allegedly raped by her then-boyfriend, died in an apparent suicide at her family home in Alberton on Friday. The 23-year-old was completing her BA degree at Rhodes at the time of her death.

Family representative Palesa Gcwensa who spoke to The Star outside Maseko's home said the family were planning to bury the EFF student leader on Thursday.

“Everyone is strong. We are focusing on the preparations for the funeral. We are trying to mourn and give her a send-off that is fitting. At this stage, the funeral is planned for Thursday. I don't know of any special memorial services. Time is not confirmed yet,” she said.

Gcwensa said Maseko was “a lovely person, sweet and good to her family. She was very strong.”

In a post on her Instagram account on Friday, Maseko posted her date of birth, “24.07.1995”, along with that day's date, and the words “NO ONE DESERVES TO BE RAPED!!”

Her death has triggered many women to speak out against gender-based abuse and to share their personal stories.

Responding to Maseko's last Instagram post, Natalie Nelson said it took her eight years to “start living”.

“I'm a rape survivor too. It's how I lost my virginity, to some savage.

"Your self-worth and dignity goes with it... your heartbeat too, especially when you have to face the savage almost daily and they're a person of power," said Nelson.

"Sometimes dying physically is the last part of arriving at a destination you've reached emotionally and spiritually. Took me eight years to finally stop existing and start living, to be brave enough to finally give him his cross back and tell all who would listen. Silence gives them your power, sanity, peace and gives them permission to repeat the behaviour. Rest with the Angels”

Khanyeigh Mkwanazee tweeted: “The same happened to my sister last month... my deepest condolences to the family and may her lovely soul rest in peace.”

Some social media users claimed to know the man who allegedly raped Maseko. Some mentioned his name while others tagged him on Instagram, saying he was walking free on campus.

EFF Student Command president Peter Keetse condemned woman abuse.

"It is a devastating issue that just transpired. It is one of those things that have been happening. We are all aware that South African men have degenerated to that level of making the bodies of women their own playing ground.

“We as the EFF are against any form of violence. It can't be tolerated. We would like to send our heartfelt condolences to the Maseko family,” he said.

Rhodes’s communication division confirmed that Maseko died on Friday afternoon.

Rhodes student representative council leader Nhlakanipho Mahlangu said: “We know the amount of promise she had to offer us all, I mean to offer the entire country. We're very shaken, it's a very difficult time for us as the SRC, and we wish her family all the strength and support that we can.”

Rhodes University vice-chancellor Dr Sizwe Mabizela on Monday ordered that the institution's flag be flown at half-mast in honour of Maseko.

The university said it would request the police and the National Prosecuting Authority to initiate an inquest into Maseko's death and that they would issue an intention to suspend the alleged perpetrator.

The Star