Probe into Uyinene Mrwetyana's alleged killer finds Post Office officials knew about his conviction

The funeral service of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana in the Eastern Cape. (Mpho Raborife, News24)
The funeral service of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana in the Eastern Cape. (Mpho Raborife, News24)

The criminal record of the man who confessed to raping and killing Uyinene Mrwetyana was known to Post Office (SAPO) officials in 2018 already, a preliminary investigation found.

The slain 19-year-old student was laid to rest on Saturday in Beacon Bay, East London.

An investigate into the appointment of the 42-year-old accused, who worked at the Clareinch Post Office where Mrwetyana was last seen, had a conviction relating to a 1998 carjacking with an 8 years sentence, of which 5 years were served with 3 years suspended. 

"These findings were made available to SAPO officials in June 2018, however the information was not disclosed to the Executive and Board," SAPO board member Charles Nwaila said in a statement on Saturday.

"SAPO is investigating the circumstances that led to the information not been shared with the Executive and Board," he said.

"It is shameful for us that our name – and by extension, the name of our shareholder and that of our government – are associated with such gruesome criminality."

Nwaila said the preliminary investigation and findings confirm the alleged perpetrator’s employment did not follow the routine SAPO recruitment process.

He explained that the accused were among a group of temporary staff who was absorbed into SAPO in 2012.

READ: Uyinene murder accused allegedly tried to rape woman in hospital, says Cele as gruesome details emerge

"SAPO confirms that at the time there was no screening of these employees as they were already in the system via Labour Brokers.

"However, when this group of employees were offered permanent part time employment contracts in 2013, the implicated employee submitted his CV as well as qualifications and declared that he had no previous criminal convictions. 

"During 2016, the implicated employee was appointed into a permanent teller position. During this time he had signed another declaration confirming that he did not have any criminal record.

"He also affirmed an oath required by the SAPO Act committing to be honest and trustworthy, and to act in accordance with the law."

Nwaila said when SAPO took over the SASSA grants payments in 2018, customer facing and other key employees were subjected to SSA Personnel Suitability screening.

"Out of the 13 000 employees, SSA had found 300 records of which 174 were convictions in which the implicated employee was one of them."

It was these results, he said, that were not brought to the attention of the SAPO executive and board.

Nwaila said the results of the SSA vetting exercise are under review, adding that action will be taken against any official implicated in wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, Mrwetyana was described as "gifted, bold and intelligent" by University of Cape Town vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng.

She told mourners at the funeral that the institution had established a scholarship in the film and media studies student's honour. It will be called the Uyinene Mrwetyana Scholarship for Women in Humanities Studies.

"No child dies without a legacy or purpose," said Phakeng.

"Uyinene lived a short life but it was beautiful and powerful. She was gifted, bold and an intellectual. We don't want her death to be just another statistic."

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