UKZN students pray and march for #RIPUyineneMrwetyana

03 September 2019 - 17:50 By Orrin Singh
Students of UKZN's Howard College campus held a prayer gathering and staged a peaceful march in solidarity with #UyineneMrwetyana on September 9 2019.
Students of UKZN's Howard College campus held a prayer gathering and staged a peaceful march in solidarity with #UyineneMrwetyana on September 9 2019.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

Hundreds of students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Howard College campus held a prayer gathering and staged a peaceful march in memory of slain University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana on Tuesday. 

It coincided with a nationwide demonstration of solidarity with dozens of women who had been brutally raped and killed in the country during national women's month.

Dressed in black, the predominantly female group gathered on the steps outside the university's main building where they held a prayer meeting and sang songs in memory of Mrwetyana, who was raped and murdered, allegedly by a government official working in the Clareinch post office in Claremont, Cape Town. 

Following the gathering, dozens of students marched from the university's student representative council (SRC) offices to the risk management service (RMS) offices to hand over a list of demands pertaining to safety at student residences and on campus. 

Resident affairs officer of the SRC Oyena Ngcobo said the memorandum focused on aspects of safety, especially for female students. 

She said that students reported cases to RMS daily but nothing was done. 

"We have a policy on gender-based violence at UKZN but it's not being implemented - students are suffering because we don't get any support from the university."

Ngcobo alleged that every day there was at least one case relating to rape, mugging or assault. 

"If I am raped by a student staying in the residence I am left to face that student every day. At least move that student out of that residence. But what you find they do is move the victim out instead of moving the perpetrator," she said. 

She said a night vigil had been planned and student leaders would be meeting with the executive director of UKZN to address some of their concerns. 

UKZN said it would respond to allegations around safety in due course. 

Meanwhile, a night vigil has been planned by number of local civic bodies in Durban on Tuesday.

One of the organisers, Kiru Naidoo, said: "Femicide is all too common in our society, whatever the race or class of the perpetrators and victims. Violence is used shamelessly on women and children without a thought to the consequences.

"Men's voices must be heard for this to stop. This vigil grieving for Uyinene Mrwetyana and solidarity with her loved ones is a spontaneous response. This could have been my child or my sister. It is just a gathering of individuals and organisations to say stop this horror. While we mourn, we must also mobilise to make our society safe for everyone."

Among the organisations in support will be Diakonia, ACT Foundation, 1WomanPact, Durban Book Fair, acting KwaZulu-Natal premier Ravi Pillay, advocate Zandile Qono-Reddy of the Durban Bar and Anglican Bishop Emeritus Rubin Phillip.


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