Uyinene's murder is the most catastrophic time of our lives - family

Uyinene Mrwetyana's grieving family has described her murder as the "most inconceivable and catastrophic time of our lives".

Expressing their gratitude for the outpouring of love and support received from the University of Cape Town and the country at large, her aunt, Nombulelo Kokha, said at a campus memorial service on Wednesday that their beloved Nene was the apple of her loved ones' eyes.

"She only knew love and thus demonstrated it in the manner she lived and how she showed up daily," Kokha said on behalf of the family.

"Her light will forever shine in our hearts as she gazes down from the heavens."

She expressed the family's thanks to the university community, especially those who prayed and "literally went to look for Uyinene".

The Mrwetyanas challenged the government, communities, fathers, brothers, uncles and nephews to "pronounce their firm stand against perpetrators who commit such tragic acts against women".

"We declare war. We declare war against such actions," her aunt said.

"Let Nene's death and that of all other women and children who suffered at the hands of these rapists and murderers not be in vain but a constant reminder, a call to action, for our SA government and men and end this scourge of violence against women, thus creating a better tomorrow," Kokha said.

Mrwetyana was murdered on the same day she went missing - August 24.

She was raped and bludgeoned to death in the Clareinch post office. Her body was dumped in Khayelitsha and found last Monday.

A week later, a post office employee made his first appearance in the Wynberg Magistrate's Court, where horrified loved ones heard the man had confessed to beating Mrwetyana to death with a scale after luring her to his workplace by offering to help her with a parcel query after closing time.

Magistrate Goolam Bawa ordered that he should not be named as the police investigation was continuing.

He has yet to enter a plea.

On Tuesday night, a house in I-Section, Khayelitsha - believed to belong to the 42-year-old suspect - was torched by residents.

According to ward councillor Patrick Mgxunyeni, locals "decided that they were tired of inaction when it comes to gender-based violence, particularly women".

The suspect has a past robbery conviction as well as a rape charge that was later withdrawn.

Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said an investigation had been ordered into how the suspect was employed at the public facility despite having a criminal record.

At the memorial service, Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training Buti Manamela said Mrwetyana should be in the institution's lecture halls listening to academia's best. 

"Nene should be here writing her tests and examinations. Nene should be here spending long hours in the library. Nene should be here hanging out with friends at the food court. Nene should be here clutching her gown and graduation cap as she prepares to leave these hallowed halls for the workplace.

"But all of that was brutally taken away from her. What should have been a routine errand of posting a letter proved to be anything but routine. It proved to be life-taking."

He said a "growing toxic masculinity" was becoming institutionalised. 

"Men, pay attention. Violence against women is not a women's issue. Our silence and lack of action fuels the violence-against-women epidemic. Instead of saying something, we say nothing. Instead of doing something, we do nothing.

"If we are silent, then we are fuelling this toxic masculinity and we are part of the problem."

Institutional policies should, among others, name and shame perpetrators beyond dealing with their crimes in institutional structures and through the judicial systems, Manamela said.

"This, however, is a societal issue. We have to start by accepting that we men who commit these sexual crimes stay in the same house, in the same street, in the same village and town, are in the same workplace, in the same church, wear the same suits, wear the same academic regalia, and may seem to be the most respectable in our society," he added.

UCT chancellor Graca Machel, too, encouraged the naming and shaming of perpetrators.

After the service, students gathered for an assembly, where a number of women identified their alleged assailants who were ordered to leave the "safe space".

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