Dear colleagues and students
Many of us at the University of Cape Town (UCT) are deeply concerned by the disappearance of our student Ms Uyinene Mrwetyana. My colleagues and I are working closely with the family and all law-enforcement authorities in the search for her. On Wednesday, 28 August, the Executive Director for Student Affairs and I, accompanied by other university leaders, met with the family to express our concern and offer any support that we could.
Ms Mrwetyana, a first-year student, was reportedly last seen on 24 August 2019. She reportedly left Roscommon House, an off-campus residence in Claremont, around 14:00 and was then seen around 17:00 at or near a hair salon in Mowbray. Ms Mrwetyana is about 1.7 m tall and was last seen wearing brown pants and carrying a black handbag.
At our meeting with the Mrwetyana family we updated them on all measures put in place and assured them that we are doing everything possible to ensure that Ms Mrwetyana – fondly known as Nene – is found.
In addition to the work being carried out by the South African Police Service (SAPS) and UCT’s Campus Protection Services (CPS), three private investigators have been appointed by the family, the university and Roscommon House respectively.
Crime is a serious problem in South Africa, and it affects all of us. The safety of students and staff members remains the university’s highest priority. We maintain an open campus and invite the public to participate in many open events.
At the end of 2018 CPS embarked on a total review of its operations through assessments, with the assistance of an external security consultant. The aim was to enhance our security operations to keep track of the crime situation on campus and in the wider Rondebosch area. The assessments focused on technology, physical security, human capital and creating awareness. Recommendations were made based on the assessments, and we started implementing these earlier this year. Part of the implementation relates to improvements in technology, in particular closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras. We have already started with upgrading our CCTV system to improve surveillance.
CPS are working closely with the SAPS with regards to certain crime categories. We have had a number of successes in the last few months related to perpetrators being arrested for vehicle-related crimes, but we recognise that much still needs to be done.
We have started the strategic deployment of CPS staff to focus on crime hotspots. We have also extended the partnership with the Groote Schuur Community Improvement District to secure the immediate perimeter around campus. In the middle of the year we ran a crime awareness campaign related to personal safety, personal property safety, vehicle safety, etc. The campaign is ongoing.
The CPS emergency numbers (021 650 2222/3) are printed on the back of every UCT identity card. Parents can also call this number if they are concerned about a student’s safety on campus.
I want to assure everyone in the community that we are working closely with the SAPS and the Mrwetyana family to locate Nene as soon as possible. The university and the family continue to appeal to anyone who has any information that might assist with the search to urgently contact CPS on 080 650 2222 or the SAPS on 021 657 2250.
Both the family and all of us at UCT remain hopeful that Ms Mrwetyana will be found soon, and we will do everything we can to ensure her safe return.
Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng
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