Vice Chancellor for the University of Cape Town (UCT), Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng has vowed to take up the fight against crime after five students lost their lives in less than three months.
“We have gone through an unusual period during which we lost five of our students. While the passing of just one student is difficult to come to terms with, we have had to endure five student deaths since late August,” said Phakeng.
She said the university’s executive had recognised had the impact which the deaths had on current students, close friends and classmates.
“Even if we did not know the students personally, we are still deeply affected as a community. We want to acknowledge the challenges that students and staff face as they grapple with this devastating loss of young lives – lives that promised to make a meaningful impact on our society,” she said.
Among the five deaths which hit the university was that of Uyinene Mrwetyana who was raped and murdered inside a post office and Cebo Mbatha who succumbed to stabbing wounds at Clifton Beach.
“The terrible circumstances surrounding their deaths only adds to the psychological challenge we face in accepting their deaths and finding ways to deal with our loss. Even though these tragic crimes occurred off campus, it makes us all feel a sense of fear and anger. We will continue taking up the fight against crime in Cape Town and South Africa,” said Phakeng.
Another student, Nicole Heynes, died at home two weeks ago following an illness.
Last week Tuesday two students lost their lives. Student, Sonja Canto lost her life in a car accident in Namibia and Lufuno Nathan passed away off campus to unknown causes, according to the University.
Phakeng said the families of the slain pupils were being assisted by the university.
“We are assisting the families of these students and will be preparing an “In remembrance” message for Lufuno, as we do for all UCT students and staff who pass away – our small way of honouring their lives.”
“The UCT executive continues to keep you all in our thoughts and prayers during this period of bereavement. It is natural in such a time to sometimes have feelings of despondency. We share the emotional burden of this time, and I know you will support each other in this time of healing.”
Students and staff were urged to utilise counselling support provided by the university.