'We will never forget you': Uyinene Mrwetyana remembered on what would have been her 21st birthday

21 April 2021 - 09:30
By unathi nkanjeni AND Unathi Nkanjeni
Uyinene Mrwetyana would have turned 21 on April 20.
Image: SUPPLIED Uyinene Mrwetyana would have turned 21 on April 20.

“We will never forget you and we'll continue fighting for safer societies for women.”

This week, SA remembered  Uyinene Mrwetyana on what would have been her 21st birthday. 

The University of Cape Town (UCT) student was raped and killed at the Clareinch Post Office before her body was dumped in Khayelitsha in August 2019. 

Her murder sparked a nationwide outcry and mass protests against gender-based violence (GBV).

Luyanda Botha, the man found guilty for her rape and murder, was handed three life sentences for the gruesome crime. 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.

Two years after Mrwetyana's murder, many, including the Uyinene Mrwetyana Foundation and transport minister Fikile Mbalula celebrated what would have been her 21st birthday.

Earlier this month, before the Cape Town fires, UCT's vice-chancellor Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng announced that the Uyinene Mrwetyana Scholarship was in full swing. 

The scholarship was set to benefit female students, including “gender-nonconforming women”, in the institution’s humanities faculty.

The full cost scholarship is calculated at an average of R150,000 per year per student and covers tuition, residence fees and learning materials. 

According to the criteria set by UCT, the scholarship will be awarded to female students who demonstrate leadership in social justice and activism, be it at school or in their community.

Speaking to DispatchLIVE last week, Thembelani Mrwetyana, Uyinene’s uncle, said the support and gestures from institutions including UCT, showed his niece's death had not been in vain.

“Women are the most vulnerable people and this scholarship seeks to empower them to a level of independence,” he said. 

“The scholarship will allow them to pursue their aspirations and dreams and not fall prey to abusers just because they depend on them. Such an initiative also aims to unshackle women from abusers.”