While millions were commemorating Women’s Day across the country, Thembi Thobile Maseko was trying to come to terms with the loss of her daughter when hundreds gathered at her funeral service in Alberton, Ekurhuleni. She was buried at Nasrec Memorial Park.
The distraught mother’s final tribute and message to her late daughter was read by a relative, Sandiso Maseko
She said Khensani, 23, was a star who excelled in her short-lived life. She further likened her to a star, like her second name, Nkanyezi.
“When I took you for your Grade 1 assessment test, your score far exceeded the set benchmark... When I watched you run a 100m sprint or relay, you dashed like a star. When you went for your matric dance, you wanted a sparkling dress. In your own words, you said you wanted to sparkle like a chandelier. When you proceeded to university you continued to shine like a star... entrenched in constructive and meaningful student activities,” her message said.
The mother said she was grateful for the 23 years she shared with Khensani and didn’t know how she would carry on without her daughter.
Khensani, a third-year student, was in the EFF Student Command leadership.
She went through a bout of depression following an alleged rape at the hands of her boyfriend in May.
A childhood friend, who identified himself only as Sibu, said Khensani was a passionate person, full of strength and love.
“All I have now is our pictures and memories. I am deeply shattered that I could not be there for you in your darkest hour. We shared birthdays, matric dances, social gatherings and career choices. I can’t even begin to describe how much I am going to miss you,” he said.
“I thought the time would help... at what point does this feel real? At what point does it make sense? You are always and eternally loved,” Sibu said.
EFF Gauteng chairperson Mandisa Mashego called on the government to set up satellite police stations at universities.
“Our hearts are broken and this should not have happened. South Africa in its entirety is a crime scene. Women constantly get raped. Domestic workers are raped by their male bosses, in the corporate and government world this happens too. Children are also raped in their homes, universities and at taxi ranks,” Mashego said.
The EFF leader accused Rhodes University of hypocrisy, claiming that when students reported being sexually assaulted, the institution refused to open cases.
In 2016, the university was brought to a standstill when students protested over the Rhodes University Reference List (#RUReferenceList), which named suspected male student rapists on campus.
The names were also published on a Rhodes student Facebook group. Protesting students wanted the suspects arrested. But their demands came to naught because an internal probe did not find any of them guilty of any sexual misconduct.
Mashego said the only way Khensani would be the last victim to commit suicide was if the police stopped their corruption.
“The state does not see us as black women. They harass us but are tripping all over the place to help whites.
“Special courts need to be set up for such matters, and we will no longer tolerate this. The current useless policies are not helping our children in any way. There need to be satellite police stations in every university,” she said.
EFF Student Command president Peter Keetse said counselling centres at universities were often hidden and not easily identifiable.
Rhodes University vice-chancellor Sizwe Mabizela said: “Khensani’s death has once again raised our nation’s anger and frustration. Her death must force us to pause and reflect deeply on the kind of society we have become.
“There are a number of important lessons for us. Among others, we must pay attention to how we raise and socialise a boy child into manhood. They need to be taught to interact with other people, women in particular, in a loving and caring way.”
Mabizela said the society needed to refrain from telling women how to dress or behave in order to protect themselves.
“We also need to recognise that the majority of sexual offenders are the people who profess to love and care. We also need to identify and challenge behaviours that lead to sexual abuse and confront toxic masculinity,” he said.
He added that the scourge of gender-based violence should first be fought from home.
“Each time we turn and look away when someone is demeaned, dehumanised and violated, we become complicit in that act, and we dishonour the memory of Khensani and thousands of other women who have suffered the indignity of having their person violated,” Mabizela said.