WATCH | Pretoria student murdered for cellphone: Who was 'humble' Thapelo Menwe?

23 September 2022 - 07:00
subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now

Twenty-three-year-old student Thapelo Menwe was walking back to his Pretoria University residence in Hatfield in the early hours of September 10 when he was approached from behind by a man wielding a gun.

Menwe was in his post-graduate year of internal auditing at UP and had been studying hard to pass and move onto a job.

A standoff ensued and CCTV footage of the incident shows Menwe appearing to refuse to hand over his valuables. Seconds later the attacker shoots Menwe in the upper body and he falls to the ground. The man rifles through Menwe's pockets and steals his cellphone before making a run for it. 

But in a stroke of luck, private security and police apprehended the alleged shooter and his getaway driver directly after the attack.

Sadly, Menwe died shortly after the attack. 

“Nobody deserves to die like that. He was such a good person,” said childhood friend Keamogetse Rakgoale, who attended high school with Menwe in his hometown of Zeerust, North West. 

“I remember the last weekend I saw him, I was telling someone, 'Thapelo is the best person ever. Like, if you have a problem with Thapelo, you are the problem,'” said Rakgoale in a video interview with TimesLIVE.

Thapelo Menwe holding up his degree after his graduation.
GRADUATE Thapelo Menwe holding up his degree after his graduation.
Image: Supplied

Angry University of Pretoria students were shocked that a robbery and murder could happen a few metres away from a popular student residence. 

“I've walked those streets at those times in the evening with him. It is not safe. The crime rate in Hatfield is ridiculously high, especially for students' electronics, cellphones, laptops," said Rakgoale. "They need to increase the security and the police need to patrol more because it’s crazy that this happened just a street away from the police station."

During an emotional memorial held outside TuksDorp residence, where Menwe was attacked, promises were made by director of student affairs Dr Matete Madiba ​to re-look at policing in the area.

“I've learnt today from SAPS that they used to have a youth desk connecting students and security ambassadors to the police station. [This way we get] to make sure we hold the station here accountable. We need to revisit this initiatives to keep students safe,” said Madiba.

A petition was signed by more than 25,000 people to prevent the alleged criminals receiving bail. On Monday the two men arrested after Menwe's murder appeared in the Pretoria magistrate's court, where it was learnt that one of the accused — the alleged shooter — withdrew his bail application while the alleged getaway driver would continue with his application. The magistrate ruled that no images may be taken of the suspects due to an outstanding identity parade.

Menwe was laid to rest in Zeerust at the weekend. Rakgoale attended the ceremony but says she feels more heartbroken now than she did when she heard her friend had been killed. 

“All the people who knew Thapelo loved him. We are going to miss him so much and I can't even begin to imagine life without him,” she said. “I just hope he rests in peace and he will forever be in our hearts. It is an honour to have known him and to experience him and to have such a close bond with him.”


Support independent journalism by subscribing to the Sunday Times. Just R20 for the first month. 

subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now