The name Uyinene Mrwetyana is synonymous with violence and grief but a new scholarship will honour her memory and inspire change, the parents of the late student say.
Uyinene was a first-year student at the University of Cape Town when she was raped and murdered in August 2019 at a post office in the city’s southern suburbs. Her killer, post office worker Luyanda Botha, was jailed for life.
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The 19-year-old’s death prompted an outpouring of anger about gender-based violence in SA and UCT established the Uyinene Scholarship in her honour for undergraduate students in the humanities faculty where the young woman was studying.
The first recipient of the scholarship is Luhlanganiso Majebe, who’s from Kenwyn in Cape Town.
“As a family, we feel privileged that UCT, her alma mater, has decided to honour our daughter in this manner, moulding young, strong-willed women,” Uyinene’s mom, Noma Mrwetyana, says.
The family is still, “taking each day as it comes, with each day presenting its own opportunity to fondly remember and honour our daughter,” but they find comfort knowing that her memory lives on.
Applicants for the scholarship needed to demonstrate leadership qualities and a passion for social justice and activism – values in line with the Uyinene Mrwetyana Foundation, which aims to empower young people to take a stand against violence and bring about meaningful change.
“These are the same timeless values our daughter embodied,” says Noma.
“We congratulate the first recipient of the scholarship, Luhlanganiso Majebe, and we wish her well in her studies.”
says Noma, will join, “a cohort of women who shall be counted as having taken a
firm stand against various social ills that are currently plaguing our
The scholarship which is valued at R150 000 per year, will fund her full undergraduate studies as long as she maintains an average grade of 65%.
The first-year social science student is honoured to be the first recipient of this award and is well aware of the work that lies ahead for her.
“Uyinene’s passing struck a chord for many people, including myself, and when I saw the requirements for the scholarship, I knew that it was a great responsibility but still something I needed to do,” she told YOU.
Luhlanganiso, a former head girl at Springfield Convent, applied for the scholarship in April.
“I kept procrastinating,” she recalls, “but then I thought, ‘you know what, if it’s for me, it’s for me’.”
She was overjoyed when she was announced as the recipient of the scholarship, and hopes to honour Uyinene by one day becoming a social justice advocate.
“I’m passionate about social justice and understanding my position in society and how I can change that.”
big sister to brothers Hlokomani (12) and Phalo (9), she’s made it her
responsibility to teach them the importance of becoming men who respect women.
One of her requirements of the scholarship is that she volunteers with a non-profit organisation that works against gender-based violence.
“I have the scholarship but I want to do more in terms of advocating,” she says.
Luhlanganiso will join the Justice Desk, a human rights non-profit that works with smaller community-based human-rights NGOs.
“They have a project in Nyanga, the Mbokodo Club, which works to empower young women in the community.”
Luhlanganiso says she’s ready to take a stand against gender-based violence.
“It’s really about honouring Uyinene, and many other women too.”