Dear colleagues and students
Since we were hit by the COVID-19 pandemic early this year, we have lost many lives to the virus. Thousands of people have passed on countrywide and, at the University of Cape Town (UCT), we have sadly lost nine staff members and one student. These are not just lives. These are family, friends, colleagues and close loved ones. At this point, almost eight months into the lockdown, it is possible that each one of us has lost a close one to the virus.
While COVID-19 continues to be a daily reality, another plague has been continuing in our communities. Many of our sisters, children, wives, partners, family and friends have continued to suffer through acts of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), with some having sadly lost their lives to these brutal acts.
These acts are unjustifiable and as a university we always have and will continue to condemn them in the strongest possible way. We will continue to do what we can to support survivors and encourage them to speak out against this SGBV scourge.
Following the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his address to the nation on Wednesday, 11 November, our flag at the Sarah Baartman Hall will fly at half-mast as we, along with the rest of the country, observe the five days of national mourning from 25 to 29 November 2020.
During this time, we will remember those who have lost their lives to COVID-19, sexual and gender-based violence or femicide. We will also signal our solidarity with the SGBV survivors. We stand with you.
Yours in solidarity
Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng
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