Students at the University of Cape Town are in mourning following the funeral of one of their own. Freshman Uyinene Mrwetyana was laid to rest in east London Saturday (Sept. 7) with hundreds paying their final respects.
The 19-year-old film and media student was last seen Aug. 30 while heading to a local post office to pick up a package. Days later her remains were found and a 42-year-old post office employee was arrested for her rape and murder.
According to South African outlet News 24, Mrwetyana went to the post office about a parcel and was told to return later because the electricity was out at the time. When she did, the employee who had prior convictions, bludgeoned her with a scale, raped and then killed her. While confessing to the crime he also revealed he burned the teen’s body and buried her in a shallow grave.
His trial is set for November.
Mrwetyana’s murder devastated many but also highlighted South Africa’s growing femicide statistics. The World Health Organization has defined femicide as “violence against women.”
“It is incomprehensible that a young life, with so much potential, has been stolen from her family and our community,” UTC Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said. “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’s death has become center stage, but there have been countless women who’ve died at the hands of men in South Africa. Female boxing champ Leighandre Jegels was shot and killed by her police officer ex, and 30-year-old Meghan Cremer, an avid horseback rider, was found with her hands tied and a rope around her neck.
During the live stream of the teen’s funeral, many took to social media to speak about the gender-based violence women face in the country and the hurt of her passing.
Women don’t get raped because they were drinking, the way they dress or took drugs, women do not get raped because they weren’t careful enough. Women get raped because someone raped them.#UyineneMrwetyana#RIPUyinene pic.twitter.com/mK6iPxxuW8
— L I N D A N I🇿🇦 (@EraError) September 2, 2019
— Tshiamo Mopereo (@tshiamo_mopereo) September 7, 2019
— Kay🦋 (@KaySilindile) September 7, 2019
Mrwetyana’s mother gave a heartfelt speech at her daughter’s funeral and blamed herself. “I’m sorry. I warned you about so many places but not about the post office,” she said