Uyinene Mrwetyana is the 19-year-old University of Cape Town student who was raped and murdered after being hit with a scale by a 42-year-old man, prosecutors in South Africa allege.
Mrwetyana was last seen on August 30 and had been considered a missing person in South Africa. Officials said on September 3 that a 42-year-old man from the Khayelitsha township on the outskirts of Cape Town had appeared in court after confessing to killing and raping Mrwetyana.
The judge in the case has ordered that the suspect in Mrwetyana’s killing’s name not be revealed.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Suspect Had Previously Been Accused of Rape But the Accusation Had Been Withdrawn
The South African reports that the suspect is an employee of the post office and has priors for robbery. The newspaper adds that the man had previously been accused of rape but the accusation had been dropped. Officials have said that they do not know why the rape accusation was withdrawn. The South African report on the suspect’s court appearance alleges that during his appearance “he turned around to face the crowd and grinned slightly.” The suspect’s trial will begin in November 2019.
The suspect handed himself in to police without incident on September 4, according to The South African report. While eNCA reports that Mrwetyana’s remains were recovered from the suspect’s back yard.
One account that has gone viral in South Africa, but not been confirmed by authorities, said that the suspect told police, “Wow, hey, this child gave me trouble. Took her forever to die,” according to The Citizen.
2. Mrwetyana Went to the Post Office to Ask About a Package & Was Asked by the Suspect to Return Later, Prosecutors Allege
A spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority, Eric Ntabazalila, said that Mrwetyana was told that the power was out in the post office and that she should return later. According to The South African, Mrwetyana was told to return to the post office at 2 p.m. local time, the post office closes at 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Prosecutors believe that Mrwetyana was attacked when she returned to the post office as the suspect was there alone at the time. Ntabazalila said in a radio interview, “She tried to fight back but he overpowered her and she lost her life. Later on, the court was told that he put her into his car and he drove out to Lingelethu in Khayelitsha and that’s where he left her body.
3. Mrwetyana Was Film Student at the University of Cape Town
Among those paying tribute to Mrwetyana was the vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, who was quoted by The South African as saying, “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.” Mrwetyana was a film student at the University of Cape Town and lived in student accommodation at Roscommon House in Claremont.
4. Mrwetyana’s Sister Paid Tribute to Her Slain Sibling & Complained About Not Feeling Safe in Her Homeland
Mrwetyana’s sister, Khanya W. Mrwetyana, paid tribute to her slain sibling on Facebook while also complaining about not feeling safe in South Africa. Khanya said, “What haunts me the most isn’t the fact that you’re gone and taken away from us so soon, it’s the thought of the fear and pain you experienced all alone. I’m so sorry Bhelekazi. I’m so sorry you had to be alive at a time where being a woman is all it takes to set a man off. Now we hold on to the memories we shared together and the thought of what could’ve become of you had that man not violated you. Hurt. -That’s what I am. That’s what we all are. Such a beautiful soul with an entire future and opportunities awaiting her. God. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, where my faith will be made stronger. All the other times I said I was hurt or I was crying, I was probably being impossible. Nothing compares to what I’m feeling right now. All air has left my lungs and my heart is right there below my knees. But even so, it is well with my soul. Its so much more harder to remain safe. Not even sending my location or memorising number plates is enough. I could be walking to the bathroom eMall and just like that my story ends. It’s quite sad. We now move around wondering who’s next because it just doesn’t stop. Will the storm ever calm? I will never question God but I ask that he heals our hearts as your family, your friends, as women, as a country and we remain stronger in faith. Uyinene, you’re still my baby sister and always will be. I love you so much Nene wam, Bhelekazi, Mafu, Ndabezitha, Langa lokulungu. Fly away my butterfly. ?️♥️?.”
A fellow University of Cape Town student, Azande Mkize, told News 24 in South Africa of her feelings in relation to the killing of Uyinene Mrwetyana. Mkize said, “As a 19-year-old student, I am Uyinene, and I’m angry. I’m tired. We’re tired of being told to walk in groups. We’re tired of being told to carry pepper spray. We’re tired of being told how to survive. We want to live.”
5. The World Health Organization Says Extreme Violence Against Women in South Africa Is on the Rise
In the wake of Mrwetyana’s death, protests, both physical and on social media, highlighting violence against women have taken place in South Africa. The hashtag, “AmINext,” has become a slogan associated with the movement.
On September 4, a protest was held at the first day of the World Economic Forum in Cape Town. The World Health Organization believes that extreme violence against women is a growing problem in South Africa.
On the night of September 1, students of the University of Cape Town held a vigil for Mrwetyana, reports News 24.