Young woman arrested for University of Fort Hare student’s death

Yonela Boli
Yonela Boli
Image: Supplied

A 24-year-old female student at the University of Fort Hare has been arrested in connection with the death of her “close friend”, a male student at the university.

Yonela Boli, 24, an MSc Geology student died at Victoria Hospital in Alice from his injuries after allegedly being stabbed at the university’s nearby campus early on Saturday morning.

Despite the suspect being a woman, a senior UFH official called the student’s death an unwelcome case of gender-based violence, while an SRC leader called on the university to urgently implement mental health support systems for students.

Department of health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said Boli had arrived at the hospital at about 4am on Saturday, with a stab wound in his back. 

“On arrival, he had bled to a state of shock from a 3cm wound in his back, which was still actively bleeding,” Kupelo said.

Kupelo said Boli was immediately seen by the doctor on duty.

“He went into cardiac arrest on the way to an X-ray examination at 5am, and resuscitation attempts failed and he was pronounced dead,” he said.

UFH’s director of Institutional Advancement, Tandi Mapukata, confirmed the incident, saying both Boli and the suspect were registered students at the university.

Mapukata said the incident took place at the university’s Iona residence.

“According to the information provided by campus security services, the suspect is a fellow MSc Geology student and a close friend of the deceased,” she said.

Mapukata said the suspect was apprehended by police and was in police custody.

She described the incident as a double tragedy for the university, the families involved and society at large.

“Gender-based violence is not welcome at our campus,” she said.

Mapukata said it was still not clear what had led to the incident.

Mapukata said the university’s vice-chancellor, professor Sakhela Buhlungu, had conveyed words of condolence to the Boli family.

Buhlungu said he was deeply sorry “for the loss of their child who was on the cusp of a breakthrough in his career”.

Buhlungu said the university condemned all forms of violence on and off campus and would monitor the case to ensure the law ran its course.

He said: “We are deeply disturbed by the tragic loss of a young life even before the academic programme for 2020 has commenced.”

He said the university was even more troubled that the alleged suspect was also a senior student, “at this fine institution”.

“We call upon students to exercise tolerance during interaction with fellow students and members of society in general.

“On behalf of the university community, I wish the family comfort and strength during this sad hour in their lives,” he said.

SRC premier at the Alice campus, Zenathi Mbenya, said the SRC strongly condemned violence of any kind.

“We hope that the institution speeds up matters relating to mental health and student support systems,” he said.

Mbenya said the issue of gender-based violence did not only affect women but was a crises that affected both genders, and should receive equal attention.

Provincial police spokesperson Khaya Thonjeni said a 24-year-old suspect was arrested on Saturday and charged with murder.

Thonjeni said Boli had allegedly been stabbed in the upper body.

He said the suspect would appear in the Alice magistrate’s court on Tuesday on a charge of murder.

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