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Lest we forget: Uyinene Mrwetyana's murder remembered a year on

24 August 2020 - 12:09 By Unathi Nkanjeni
Nineteen-year-old UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana was raped and murdered in August 2019.
Nineteen-year-old UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana was raped and murdered in August 2019.
Image: Facebook/Zuki Lamani

August 24 marks one year since 19-year-old Uyinene Mrwetyana was raped and killed at the Clareinch Post Office before her body was dumped in Khayelitsha.

Mrwetyana's death sparked nationwide outrage and protest, calling for change in SA.

Here is a timeline of the events leading to Mrwetyana's death.

On August 8, Mrwetyana made her way to the post office in Claremont to inquire about the status of a package she was expecting. The parcel contained clothing items she had purchased online.

On August 16, the parcel arrived at the post office and rapist and murderer Luyanda Botha registered it on the same day.

On August 24, Botha contacted Mrwetyana to inform her the parcel was available for collection.

Upon her arrival, she found Botha alone. He sexually assaulted Mrwetyana before bashing her head in with a scale used to weigh packages. Botha left Mrwetyana's body in a safe, covered with cushions, a blanket and a jersey.

He returned to the post office on August 25, transported the body to a field in Lingelethu-West, Khayelitsha, and dumped it in a shallow hole, before setting it alight.

Mrwetyana's body was discovered on August 26.

Since her death, Mrwetyana has become a symbol of the fight against gender-based violence, prompting protests against the plight of women and children in SA.

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Under the banner #AmINext?, women and men across the country banded together when news of Mrwetyana’s disappearance made news, with vigils being held across the country in support of her family and friends.

We follow Uyinene Mrwetyana's final steps on August 24 2019 when she was brutally murdered in a Cape Town post office and then disposed of in a hole next to a railway track.

Botha convicted

In November, Botha was given three life sentences after his confession that he killed Mrwetyana. He was also given five years for defeating the ends of justice.

He will serve 25 years before he can be considered for release on parole, and is unfit to own a firearm.

International headlines 

Mrwetyana's murder made international headlines.

The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, paid a visit to Mrwetyana's murder spot during her visit to SA with husband, Prince Harry.

According to a CNN report, Markle's visit to the post office in Claremont was kept secret, as she wanted it to be a “personal gesture”.

Countless sleepless nights

Mrwetyana's mother, Noma, told Sunday Times the past 12 months have been “characterised by countless sleepless nights”. 

“It's a mixed bag of emotions ranging from hurt and sadness to anger and frustration,” she said.

“However, we have realised that this is a lifetime experience we can never take away. By the grace of God and the support we received from people from all walks of life, there has been a sense of comfort.”

One-year anniversary 

On Monday, a year after Mrwetyana's death, many honoured her life by decorating the Clarinch Post Office and Claremont Police Station with flowers and ribbons.