Dear colleagues and students
The UCT executive and members of the Leadership Lekgotla have been in urgent discussion since receiving the formal announcement of the brutal death of our student Uyinene Mrwetyana, fondly known as Nene. I communicated this to the UCT community yesterday. Read the VC Desk.
There is no doubt that this tragic event has devastated us as a community and has left us bereaved and angry. Many staff and students have expressed their sadness and have gathered in separate vigils, prayer circles and small groups across campus.
It is important that as a community we recognise this moment for what it is. A devastating incident of gender-based violence which is utterly unacceptable, shocking, criminal and should never, ever occur in our community or in our society. Sadly, it is a fact that sexual and gender-based violence is rampant and our Nene is just one of a long list of women and vulnerable and marginalised people who are brutalised daily. It is for this reason that we have initiated a gender-based violence campaign that says #JustNo to sexual and gender-based violence.
We are declaring tomorrow, Wednesday, 4 September 2019, a day of mourning and UCT activism against sexual and gender-based violence. Our chancellor, Mrs Graça Machel, as well as the chair of UCT Council, Mr Sipho M Pityana, will be in Cape Town and may be able to attend the memorial service.
We are hoping that students and staff will, as a community, come together to participate in the events that have been planned. We recognise that many individuals and entities within our community may arrange their own significant events, and the executive will attempt to attend these wherever possible.
You are invited to come together at the following times tomorrow.
09:00 to 11:00 – Picket against sexual and gender-based violence
12:00 to 14:00 – Memorial Service for Nene
We as the UCT executive have been inundated with messages of sadness, grief, anger and anxiety. We have also seen how members of our community are supporting each other, reaching out for help and holding each other during this painful moment.
Please use tomorrow to mourn the loss of Nene, to signal our bereavement and grief, to rise against sexual and gender-based violence in our community and in our society.
Academic classes are suspended for tomorrow. Where tests or essential academic activities were planned, please make appropriate arrangements within departments and faculties.
Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng and the UCT Executive
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