A tearful and emotional funeral for the student whose disappearance and brutal murder shook SA during weeks of unprecedented femicide.
Police Minister Bheki Cele yesterday described in detail how the man who raped and killed Uyinene Mrwetyana used the same “modus operandi” to lure other women to the post office, as he did to the University of Cape Town (UCT) student.
Mrwetyana (19), was raped and killed by a 42-year-old man who works at the Clareinch SA Post Office in Cape Town.
She had gone to the post office earlier that day to collect a parcel but her attacker apparently told her to return later.
But when she went back the man attacked her, overpowered her, raped and then killed her when she fought back.
He burnt her body before burying it in a shallow grave at his home in Khayelitsha.
Cele said the man would tell unsuspecting women when they asked for help to return later in the hope that if they did, they would find him alone after his colleagues had knocked off.
I stand before you deeply hurt, confused and angry. This is a difficult speech to make but on one hand I want to share the memories I had with my little sister and all the different dynamics to her personality … and knowing Uyinene I know she would want me to say something
Uyinene 's brother
“I have heard already other stories that there are other women that he told to do the same. So, the modus operandi of this guy is almost the same. The young lady [Uyinene], who was excited about the parcel she was waiting for, indeed went back with all innocence in the world. This guy attacks this young woman. This young woman fights [back]. She fought back heavily. She fights,” the minister told mourners.
“But for some reason she loses her footing. He rapes her. In the middle of that she rises again and fights. He gets an object and bashes her head to death. This story is told by the same perpetrator when he confesses.”
Cele said the police psychologists and forensic analysts were very instrumental in cracking the case.
“After killing her and realising what he had done he buys some liquor and drinks. He then wraps her body and puts it in the boot of his car and drives to his home. He takes the body out [of the car] and burns the body.
“And digs a shallow grave and puts the beautiful … the whole future in this shallow grave,” said an emotional Cele.
The minister said he was surprised when he was later informed that the perpetrator was an ex-convict who had been previously sentenced for years for car hijacking.
“Anybody who does hijacking is a violent person. Also he has got a withdrawn case. In this withdrawn case he was visiting his girlfriend at a nurses’ home.
“When he did not find his girlfriend there he sees a young lady in her towel walking in a passage and he begins to chase that young lady,” he said.
Cele said the police would revisit some of the cases that had been withdrawn against Mrwetyana’s attacker and reopen them as instructed by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
He said the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit, which specialises in cases such as Mrwetyana’s, was one of the best in the SA Police Service.
He said the team had sent 4 728 men to life in prison.
Cele called on every man in South Africa to be put under the microscope.
“You see if I was the government, I would have said all men in South Africa must be profiled. Profile and understand what kind of a man are we encountering on the road … somewhere, somehow this government has got to be tough,” said Cele.
Mrwetyana’s funeral began just after 7.30am yesterday with thousands of mourners clad in black filling the Abbotsford Christian Centre in East London to capacity.
Hundreds of students and her friends from UCT had travelled from Cape Town to pay their last respects to the slain first year student who was studying towards a BA degree in media studies.
Emotions ran high during the service of the likeable Mrwetyana, also known as Uyi or Nene.
Social workers in black outfits and bright orange scarves had their hands full trying to comfort mourners, some of whom had been overcome by emotions as the gruesome murder of the young student become too much to bare.
Photos of Mrwetyana with a beaming smile were displayed around the venue, summarising how full of life and joyful she had been.
Mrwetyana’s brother Esona spoke passionately about his little sister.
“I stand before you deeply hurt, confused and angry. This is a difficult speech to make but on one hand I want to share the memories I had with my little sister and all the different dynamics to her personality … and knowing Uyinene I know she would want me to say something,” he said.
He said his sister had a huge fighting spirit and that they would even fight over who should hold on to the TV remote control longer.
Esona said he had a lot of unanswered questions.
Where is God? Why did this happen to my sister? Why was I not there to protect her? I pray one day that some of these answers might be revealed to me.
“Uyinene was very unique, genuine and honest. When it was time to celebrate and compliment, she did. When it was time to be honest and frank, she was,” said Esona.
UCT vice-chancellor, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, said that as the university they were distressed by the high levels of violence against women.
She described Mrwetyana as a gifted, intellectually capable student who lived her life boldly.
“We at UCT have made a commitment to not allow Uyinene’s death to just remain another statistic. We do not want her to be just a number.
“And one of the ways we hope to restore Uyinene’s aspirations and take a stand against the crime that ended her life is through establishing the Uyinene Mrwetyana Scholarship for women in humanities at UCT,” said Phakeng to loud applause from the audience.
Mrwetyana was buried in a private family ceremony at her home in Centane, near Butterworth.
She is survived by her parents and her siblings Kholo and Esona.