Uyinene Mrwetyana's killer was a devoted churchgoer, say neighbours

04 September 2019 - 14:44 By Philani Nombembe
The remains of the Khayelitsha home where Uyinene Mrwetyana's alleged killer lived. Community members set it alight on September 3 2019.
The remains of the Khayelitsha home where Uyinene Mrwetyana's alleged killer lived. Community members set it alight on September 3 2019.
Image: Philani Nombembe

Burst water pipes were the only sign on Wednesday that anyone had once inhabited the burnt-out ruin that used to be the home of Uyinene Mrwetyana’s alleged killer.

Residents of I Section in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, torched the house on Tuesday night after learning their neighbour — a clerk at Clareinch post office in Claremont — had been arrested for the murder.

Videos and pictures shared on social media showed flames lighting up the sky as the modest home was reduced to a heap of broken asbestos and charred blocks.

Mattresses reduced to a tangle of twisted wires were strewn in the overgrown yard. City of Cape Town officials were on the scene to cut off the gushing water.

The alleged killer’s next-door neighbour, Lungelwa Noveve, said she was still shocked by the allegations.

A neighbour examines the remains of the Khayelitsha house burned down by neighbours on September 3 2019.
A neighbour examines the remains of the Khayelitsha house burned down by neighbours on September 3 2019.
Image: Philani Nombembe

"We had an impasse with the man when he moved here over a year ago," she said. "He got a protection order against us because we demanded that he produce a letter from the community he came from stating what kind of a resident he was.

"But the court told us to back off. That came to mind when it was revealed that he was a suspect in a heinous crime like this. We have young girls here."

Noveve said relations had slightly improved between her and her 42-year-old neighbour but she found him odd.

"We only greeted each other but he did not say much," she said. "He never smiled. I don't even know if he has teeth or not. He kept his doors and windows closed all the time. He only used the back door. He was a devoted churchgoer though."

City of Cape Town officials fix a leaking water main outside the torched Khayelitsha house on September 4 2019.
City of Cape Town officials fix a leaking water main outside the torched Khayelitsha house on September 4 2019.
Image: Philani Nombembe

Noveve said the man inherited the house when a relative died. "We hope that the house can be donated to the government so that it can be turned into a public facility," she said.

"No one can be able to live there after this. There is a dark cloud hanging over it."

Her neighbour, Kholekile Qolo, said he was shocked to hear the post office clerk was linked to the University of Cape Town student’s murder.

"I can't allow him to come back here. I have three girls and I shudder when I think about what that poor child went through," he said. "I am imagining the pain that her parents must be going through. He belongs in jail."

Motorists stopped and shot pictures of the house. Some people cursed and spat as they passed, while others took selfies.

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.


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