Five student murders that shocked the country in 2019

30 December 2019 - 13:10 By LWANDILE BHENGU
UCT students write messages of remembrance for slain student Uyinene Mrwetyana.
UCT students write messages of remembrance for slain student Uyinene Mrwetyana.
Image: Esa Alexander / Sunday Times

This year was tragic for SA students, with murders and RIP hashtags topping social media trend lists.

Here are five student murders that made headlines in 2019 and the status of the cases.

1. Uyinene Mrwetyana 

The University of Cape Town (UCT) student became the face of the fight against gender-based violence (GBV) in August when she was raped and bludgeoned to death at the Clareinch post office in Cape Town. Her killer, former post office worker Luyanda Botha, is serving three life sentences for the crimes. Last month, Mrwetyana’s mother, Nomangwane, launched a foundation in her daughter's name. It aims to create a platform to engage and fight against GBV. 

2. Sandile Ndlovu

Ndlovu was brutally assaulted inside a lecture room at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) in September. He died in hospital. His killer, Msizi Mbutho, was sentenced to life imprisonment at the beginning of December. Ndlovu’s death brought into question the safety of students on campus, with many calling for the dismissal of the university’s security company. The facility has since undergone a process to find a new security company and said it would be spending R30m on security updates. 

3. Precious Ramabulana

Ramabulana, who was a student at Capricorn TVET College, was murdered in her rented room at ga-Joel Section in Mokomene, Limpopo, in November, after allegedly being stabbed 52 times. The man charged with her death, Aubrey Manaka, appeared in court at the beginning of December. He was remanded in custody until he appears again at the end of January. 

4. Mlungisi Madonsela

Madonsela, a final-year DUT public administration student, was shot outside the university's Steve Biko campus in February, allegedly by a security guard during clashes between students and private security officers. He died in hospital. After the incident, two security guards were suspended. In June, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) announced that it would not be prosecuting the matter due to insufficient evidence. The university has since opened an independent commission of inquiry into Madonsela's death. The commission, led by the former deputy president of the supreme court of appeal (SCA), justice Khayelihle Mthiyane, had its first sitting on November 6.

5. Simukelo Zondi

Zondi’s charred remains were discovered in a bush at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s (UKZN's) Westville campus in October. Thereafter, student Khayelihle Nzimande was arrested. A video circulated on social media soon after his arrest allegedly showed him in the university's risk management services office telling security officers that Zondi died because he was a “zombie” and involved in witchcraft. During his last appearance in the Pinetown magistrate’s court, the court heard that he would be booked into Fort Napier Hospital in Pietermaritzburg for psychiatric evaluation in June. 


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