Remembering Nene: rise against sexual and gender-based violence

03 September 2019 | From Kgethi

Please note: The UCT assembly that was planned for 14:00 to 16:00 on the plaza in front of Sarah Baartman Hall has been cancelled.


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

  • The picket will be held at the gates of Parliament at the intersection of Plein and Roeland streets.
  • Please wear black clothing and make banners that speak out against sexual and gender-based violence.

12:00 to 14:00 – Memorial Service for Nene

  • The memorial service will be held on the steps in front of Sarah Baartman Hall.
  • Please wear black and bring flowers if you wish to.

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


The Office for Inclusivity and Change (OIC) has created an online portal where survivors and/or those close to them can report an incident of rape, sexual assault and/or discrimination. Students and staff are still able to access the OIC by visiting the office to receive individual support and referral information. Visit the case reporting website.

Anyone who needs immediate medical assistance or advice following a rape and/or sexual assault should call, SMS or send a missed call to the standby number: 072 393 7824. For telephonic counselling, please call one of the following options: Rape Crisis: 021 447 9762 or the South African Depression and Anxiety Group: 0800 24 25 26.

More information is available on the OIC’s Survivor Support web page.

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