Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, attended the funeral of slain University of Fort Hare Law Student, Nosicelo Mtebeni (23), whose recent horrific death sent shockwaves through the country.
Mtebeni was laid to rest this morning, September 4, in Matatiele in the Eastern Cape. Her dismembered body was found in a suitcase and separate black bag in a street in Quigney, East London, late last month. She had allegedly been murdered and her body chopped into pieces by her boyfriend.
At her funeral, Nzimande said that what remains the most troubling is that her brutal death was allegedly because of a person who was meant to love and protect her.
“This is the trouble and challenge with Gender-Based Violence (GBV): it is often those close to their victims who are perpetrators. This means we need to do much more to engage society in general, especially boys and men about the necessity to fight this scourge,” he said.
“I bring with me condolences from the government of South Africa, from me as the Minister responsible for Higher Education, Science and Innovation and the entire Post School Education and Training sector. We indeed bow our hearts and heads today to say fare-the-well daughter of the soil, who as a people and society we failed to protect.”
Nzimande also made reference to the assertions of writer and poet, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who said: We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man.
“True to Chimamanda’s assertion, here we are today standing in mourning to bury Nosicelo, who was a beacon of hope to the Mtebeni family, her community and the country at large. She was a lawyer in waiting, who was to be the defender of the very human rights that she was denied enjoyment of by a criminal who ended her life prematurely.”
He said that societies need to support all government initiatives against GBV and femicide. We also need to support current existing civil society organisations established to fight against this scourge.
“I stand before Nosicelo’s lifeless body today to restate our government commitment to ensure that justice is served against all those who continue to violate our Constitution and the rights of other citizens. I also want to assure you all gathered here today, particular Nosicelo’s family, relatives, friends and the entire University of Fort Hare community, that as a sector we will collaborate with the law enforcement agencies to ensure that justice is served in honour of Nosicelo,” he added.
“To the entire University of Fort Hare, I know that you have had unending painful episodes of death of students at your university in the past three weeks. This includes that of another law student, Anovuyo Sinuka who died due to a fall from a high-rise building.
“Upon receiving the news of the death of Nosicelo and Anovuyo, I directed Higher Health to immediately assist the university through the deployment of experienced psychologists, social workers, counsellors and other professionals to provide immediate support, debriefing, counselling and care to all affected students and staff.”
He added that this team arrived at the university on Sunday, August 22 and has remained onsite.
“As much as we have lost Nosicelo, her legacy continues to remain, as over 690 young students from our Alice and East London Campuses of UFH and especially from the Craxton House, Lwandle and Union Arcade residences, have come out and sought psycho-social support, through Higher Health and its support mechanisms.
“Amongst them is the utilisation of the Higher Health toll free 24-hour student helpline: 0800 36 36 36. Part of our commitment as a sector is to continue to build infrastructure in all our universities and colleges so that they can provide easy access to the desired services to deal with both these co-epidemics of GBV and mental health.”
Source: Department of Higher Education and Training media statement