Slain Nosicelo Mtebeni was a leading anti-GBV campaigner
Law student was completing her final year of study when she was murdered and dismembered
The murder of law student Nosicelo Mtebeni robbed SA of a future judge, University of Fort Hare vice-chancellor Sakhela Buhlungu said at her memorial service yesterday.
Nosicelo's body, cut into pieces and shoved into a suitcase and plastic bags not far from the university, was found last week in East London. Her boyfriend, with whom she shared a flat, was arrested after the grisly discovery.
The 23-year-old's head and hands were found hidden in a cupboard in a house.
Alutha Pasile, 25, abandoned his bail application when he appeared in the East London magistrate’s court on Monday. He was charged with murder and defeating the ends of justice.
“We have been robbed of a future constitutional judge,” Buhlungu said.
SRC transformation and gender officer Siphokazi Mbalo said that before President Cyril Ramaphosa declared gender-based violence to be a pandemic, Nosicelo had already identified it as such.
She wrote a post on Facebook on September 2 2019: “If you have a vagina and you live in SA, make sure you are armed, have a knife or a pepper spray all the time because you might be the next victim of rape.”
We are not imbokodo (rock), the women of our generation; we are human, we have breath, we have blood.Siphokazi Mbalo
Mbalo said: “It’s so sad that she anticipated rape but did not think that she could be killed to the point of being dismembered.
“Dear Nosicelo, may your spirit be with us in this war that we are about to begin as activists against GBV. We will not stop, we will fight and your spirit will carry us,” she said.
Mtebeni died as she and her colleagues were planning to run a programme they planned to name “open letter to men”.
“This platform was going to be given to our young SA women to tell men that we are not imbokodo (rock), the women of our generation, we are human, we have breath, we have blood, we feel pain, so stop treating us like imbokodo,” she said.
Family representative Nomvula Beauty Gugushe said they were overwhelmed by the support from the institution.
“We were in the dark valley of death but now God is with us.
“We were afraid and intimidated but now we are no longer afraid and intimidated. God is with us. He strengthened us and helped us. He gave us support with his righteous hand,” Gugushe said.
“I would like to thank the university and the police in East London. It shows that we are not hurting alone.”
It is unfortunate that her dreams and aspirations will not be realised because of Aluta.Mkhanyiseli Nomana
SRC president Mkhanyiseli Nomana charged that the arrival of Alutha into Nosicelo’s life was not a blessing, as all the plans she had did not eventually come to pass.
“It is unfortunate that her dreams and aspirations will not be realised,” he said.
Nomana pleaded with everyone to pray for the institution and its students.
“There is a dark cloud hanging over our institution, a dark cloud that we have tried to get away from by lighting of candles. We are in a country where men kill women, day in day out, and this pandemic needs to be dealt with. We are living in a society where men no longer see women as their sisters or mothers but as objects.”
Buhlungu said of the scourge of gender-based violence: “This is a societal problem. Let us come together and fight it jointly.”
He said two days after Nosicelo’s death, another student at the institution, Anovuya Siyahluma Sinuka, died after falling from the 12th floor of a building in East London.
“We have met with family and plans are under way to honour his memory,” Buhlungu said.
Deputy higher education, science and innovation minister Buti Manamela said the story of Mtebeni was part of the broader story of women in SA.
“That they can be attacked any time and anywhere. We have robbed women of their agency to exist and pushed them to an edge where they want to disappear,” he said.
Mtebeni was born in Vosloorus, Gauteng, on April 13 1998. She completed her primary education at Naledi Junior Secondary School and matriculated at Tholang Senior Secondary in 2016.
She was in her final year of bachelor of laws degree after registering for it in 2017.
She leaves her parents Kholisile and Ntombizandile Mtebeni, her brothers and relatives.
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