Post office where UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana was killed closes its doors after walk-in

03 September 2019 - 11:39 By TANYA FARBER
Veronica Smith, who works across the road, wept as she recalled how the police asked if she had seen Uyinene.
Veronica Smith, who works across the road, wept as she recalled how the police asked if she had seen Uyinene.
Image: Sunday Times/Esa Alexander

“Closed due to unforeseen circumstances.”

This is what a hastily printed notice said on the doors of the post office in Claremont after a walk-in, marked by quiet sobbing, that took place spontaneously on Tuesday morning.

It was here that University of Cape Town first-year student Uyinene Mrwetyana was brutally murdered on August 24.

Anger and outrage followed the discovery of the body of missing 19-year-old UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana on September 02, 2019. She had been missing since August 24. A 42-year-old man who worked at the Clareinch Post office allegedly confessed to the rape and murder. Gender-based violence has been a national issue in South Africa for years, with 3 915 women and children being murdered in 2018.

It began with dazed passers-by, local residents and shop workers staring at the flowers outside. Within minutes, many were weeping and then a spontaneous walk-in resulted in the temporary closure of the Clareinch post office.

On Monday evening, just a few bunches of flowers had been placed outside the post office door, but by Tuesday many more - all tied to the railings - had been placed there, along with cards for Uyinene.

A purple one had her name on the envelope but remained unopened.


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Veronica Smith, who works across the road, wept as she recalled how the police asked if she saw Uyinene at the post office.
Veronica Smith, who works across the road, wept as she recalled how the police asked if she saw Uyinene at the post office.
Image: Sunday Times/Esa Alexander

Many women, and a few men who stood back, came to stand outside the post office and wept as they looked at the flowers.

Eventually, people began asking: why is it business as usual? Should the post office not be temporarily closed, and what about the members of staff - particularly females - who must be traumatised?

A spontaneous walk-in then occurred.

People walked through the doors and stood in a semi-circle where people normally queue for postal services.

Veronica Smith, who works at Wool Mart across the road, wept as she recalled the police contacting her to find out if she saw Uyinene walk into the post office because of video footage in their possession.

“I couldn’t help them,” she cried. “I work Monday to Friday. Our children are killed. I thought there would have been a mass protest already. If this was in the township, the community would be here fighting tooth and nail for it be shut down.”

Other comments from the small crowd gathered included: “Out of respect for Uyinene, this place should be closed.”

Another woman said: “These employees should be allowed to mourn and go home. It was their own colleague who asked the girl to come back and then he raped and killed her.”

Said another: “If something like this happened to my child I would kill the man myself.”

One woman, who did not want to be named, said: “He came to work on the Monday as if nothing had happened. We came into the post office and saw him. Only later we heard from the guy who works directly opposite at the pet shop that it’s the guy we all know and see here every day.”

Local resident Dr June Bam, a lecturer at UCT, spoke to TimesLIVE in her personal capacity as “a neighbour, a woman, a mother and a grandmother”.

“I live here so it is sad for me. This is just horrific. I think this place should not be open this morning. The staff should be sent home. There is also a school across the road [Livingstone High School]. The women who work at the post office are scared not to work as this is their bread and butter. But they are traumatised. And government is ambivalent.”

Another woman added: “The women are forced to be here in a space where a child was murdered. They must shut the door and lock it - we don’t care what the government says.”

TimesLIVE has reached out to SA Post Office for comment and will update this story. 


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