29 April 2021
On 24 August 2019, 19-year-old Uyinene Mrwetyana, a student at UCT, was raped and then murdered by Luyanda Botha, an employee at a post office where she went to collect a parcel. Uyinene was missing for 9 days before her body was identified. During that time, South Africans mobilised behind the hashtag #BringNeneHome. Her murder raised awareness about the high rates of gender-based violence (GBV) in South Africa, with a series of protests against GBV being organised across the country.
One such protest was being organised by The 16 June Movement, which was a UCT-based NGO at that time. The 16 June Movement came up with the idea of holding a protest outside Pollsmoor Prison, where Luyanda Botha was an awaiting trial prisoner. They applied for and received all the relevant consents. However, due to the Pollsmoor Prison being in Tokai, roughly 17 kilometres away from UCT, they had no way to transport protestors to and from the prison. When we heard about this, the Baobab Student Accommodation decided to sponsor a bus to serve as transport. We also joined them for the protest.
On 15 September 2019, the 16 June Movement, with a little help from The Baobab Student Accommodation, held the first protest outside an active prison in the history of South Africa. We held up placards and motorists passing by hooted in support. Some passers-by stopped to join us – a family with two very young children stand out in my memory. They were driving past and decided to join us for several hours. We had a loudhailer, so we were very noticeable. Every person who wanted to, was given the opportunity to read out their messages to Luyanda Botha, and the prison authorities accepted those messages and committed to giving them to him. We wanted him to know that he was not safe even in prison, that we knew where he was, and would not forgive or forget him.
The 20th of April 2021 would have been Uyinene’s 21st birthday. Two years later, little has changed. If you are a woman or part of the LGBT community, you are 5x more likely to be murdered in South Africa as compared to the global average. The morning we found out what happened to Uyinene, we promised ourselves we would not forget what happened. We promised ourselves that we would not forget. While the scourge of GBV has not lessened in any way since Uyinene’s murder, the problem has moved to the forefront of our collective consciousness. We will continue to fight for safer society for womxn and all marginalised communities.
#RememberTheirNames #UyineneMrwetyana #AneneBooysens #JesseHess #LonwaboNolte
#LuluNthuthela #ShameemaDoherty #JostinaSangweni #GomolemoLegae #LeighandreJegels