Nosicelo Mtebeni murder: Student leadership at University of Fort Hare calls for death penalty

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Nosicelo Mtebeni
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  • The Institutional Student Parliament of Fort Hare is calling for the death penalty to end GBV and femicide. 
  • The death penalty was abolished in SA on 6 June 1995, following the ruling of the Constitutional Court. 
  • Activists say toxic masculinity is a cause for the killing of women in South Africa.

The student leadership of the University of Fort Hare is calling for the death penalty in South Africa, in order to end the alarmingly high levels of gender-based violence (GBV) and femicide.

The country is reeling in shock following the brutal murder of University of Fort Hare student, Nosicelo Mtebeni, 23. 

Mtebeni's dismembered body was found stuffed into a luggage bag and placed in the street of East London's Quigney suburb on Thursday. 

Her boyfriend, Alutha Pasile, made his first appearance in the East London Magistrate's Court on Monday after he was arrested last week for the murder.

He abandoned his bail bid and his right to legal representation.

The case was postponed to 28 September.

READ Slain student Nosicelo Mtebeni had big plans for her family's future

According to the NPA, he confessed to the horrific murder, saying he did it because she cheated on him.   

Mtebeni was due to graduate in April and was the only hope her family had of getting out of poverty. 

Anelisa Keti, head of the Institutional Student Parliament of Fort Hare, said the organisation was calling for the death penalty in cases of femicide. 

Keti said: 

This is unconscionable. We want Alutha to remain behind bars for the rest of his life. He is not meant to be part of society. We won't feel safe with him roaming outside. We wept when Uyinene Mrwetyana was murdered, when Karabo Mokoena was killed, and we are now crying for Nosicelo. When does it end? Who is next? The death penalty is the only solution to crimes of this nature.

Activist and head of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Fort Hare, Professor Rianna Oelofsen, blamed toxic masculinity as the root cause for femicide and violence against women.

"Stop making this a women's problem. It is a man's problem. It's mainly men who are perpetrating violence against women. It is men and women, and gender non-conforming people, who are the victims," Oelofsen said. 

ALSO READ Boyfriend accused of Fort Hare student's murder confesses, abandons bail and legal assistance - NPA

To reverse the violent behaviour of men, Oelofsen said boys should be the target. 

Oelofsen said:

We need to start with our boys in terms of educating and raising our children. We need to make sure that boys can deal with anger in a way which doesn't mean that they use violence. We need to make sure mental health support is available for everyone. We start changing the discourse, we start changing what it means to be a man in South Africa.

Oelofsen called on the country's men to stand up and reject GBV.

"As men and women, we are going to say toxic masculinity must fall."

Activists and students were part of a crowd of more than 2 000 people who picketed outside the court on Monday to support Mtebeni's family during the appearance of Pasile.

Not in My Name International Eastern Cape convener, Sinoxolo Fama, said: "We add a voice which says no bail for this monster because his actions are barbaric and he is not welcomed in our society. We are here to support women and we will work closely with other like-minded organisations to eradicate gender-based violence and femicide."

The secretary-general of the SA Union of Students, Lukhanyo Daweti, said the union was saddened and disturbed by the incident. 

READ | 'A dark and brutal Women's Month': Govt condemns recent femicide cases

The union called on all universities to host a 30-minute prayer this week, in solidarity with the University of Fort Hare.  

GBV Fund board member and Masimanyane Women International director, Lesley Ann Foster, said the country needed solidarity to fight and work on prevention, and not only come out when people were dead.  

The Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce's Kholiswa Tyiki said: "We would like to urge the justice system of this country to move speedily to deal with the perpetrator in this case."

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