Dear colleagues and students
I write to you with a heart that is heavy with grief and outrage. Many of you know by now that another University of Cape Town (UCT) student was murdered over the weekend. My colleagues and I are receiving many enquiries about this terrible and senseless tragedy.
Obviously there is a great deal of concern, anger and sorrow. We are working hard with the South African Police Service and other authorities to determine the facts around the crime that was committed. Here is what we know so far.
Four of our students were relaxing on Third Beach, Clifton, near Camps Bay, early in the evening on Saturday, 28 September 2019. They were approached by two men who apparently tried to rob them of their cellphones. Mr Cebo Mhleli Mbatha, a first-year humanities student from KwaZulu-Natal, was stabbed in the chest and died before he could be taken to hospital. His friend, also a male student, was stabbed in the leg and has since been treated in hospital. Two other students managed to escape without physical injury but were severely traumatised. All three surviving students experienced severe shock and trauma from this terrible ordeal.
The university has been in contact with the Mbatha family and have offered our support as well as our deepest condolences.
We extend our wishes for a speedy recovery to the student who was stabbed, and are supporting all three students with counselling. The university has arranged for the parents of these students to come to Cape Town to be with them.
The Department of Student Affairs, through its Student Wellness Service (SWS), responded quickly and has provided counselling support to the surviving students, as well as to other students who were close friends of Mr Mbatha. Mr Mbatha lived in a private residence in Rondebosch, and further counselling support will be provided to fellow students who live in the same residence, as well as to his classmates.
If you have been affected by Mr Mbatha’s death and would like counselling support, please phone SWS on 021 650 1017 or book an appointment online.
I share with everyone at UCT a sense of deep desolation that our students, and South Africans in general, continue to be affected by violent crime and criminality in their daily lives. This is an attack on all of us at UCT, in Cape Town and in South Africa.
Crime affects us all. It is a societal epidemic. So the university will continue engaging with the relevant provincial and national authorities to keep up the fight against violent crime. I have also committed to discuss the matter with the relevant government offices at the highest possible level.
The Campus Protection Services (CPS) emergency number (021 650 2222/3) is printed on the back of every UCT identity card. The CPS 24-hour toll-free number (080 650 2222) can be contacted by students and staff even if they have no airtime on their phones. I encourage you to put these numbers on speed dial and use them if you are concerned about your safety.
Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng
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