Uyinene Mrwetyana was a 19 year old student from South Africa who was brutally raped and murdered near Cape Town in 2019. Her murder is known for initiating a movement against femicide, or violence against women, in South Africa.
Uyinene Mrwetyana, who also went by Nene, was born on April 20, 2000 in East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa. Her mother described her as vibrant, outspoken, and a dynamic person. Friends described Nene as caring, outgoing, and a fashion lover. Nene grew up in a suburban town with her parents and brother, and she attended Hudson Park Primary School. Nene later attended high school at Kingswood College, where she graduated in 2018. She later received the school’s Neil Aggett Memorial Award posthumously in 2020. After she graduated, Nene began attending school at the University of Cape Town.
On August 24, 2019 Nene went to a local post office to collect her parcel, where an attendant, Luyanda Botha, told her that her parcel wasn’t ready and to come back in the afternoon. However, the post office closed at 1 P.M. After Nene left, Luyanda arranged for his coworker to leave early, leaving only him and Nene in the post office.
When Nene returned to the post office, it was past closing time, but Luyanda still let her in. Once she was inside, Luyanda began to sexually assault Nene. He attempted to strangle Nene, but failed. Luyanda then used a 2 kilogram weight to bludgeon Nene to death.
After murdering the 19 year old, Luyanda left her body at the post office. He soon returned the next day to retrieve her body. Luyanda then took Nene’s body to a nearby field, doused her body with petrol, and set her on fire.
After not hearing from Nene, her family and friends knew something was wrong. Her family quickly reported her missing and began searching for her. She was said to last be seen in Claremont outside of Clareinch Post Office. Within the 9 days of her disappearance, Nene’s case received immense media attention in Cape Town. The hashtag #BringNeneHome began to trend online as people searched for the missing 19 year old.
However, Nene’s body had already been found on August 26, but she hadn’t been identified yet. Nene’s body was discovered in a hole near an unused railway track in Lingelethu West of Khayelitsha.
Luyanda was quickly arrested in connection to Nene’s disappearance. He soon confessed to Nene’s murder. On November 15, 2019, Luyanda received 3 life sentences for Nene’s assault and murder. He is eligible for parole after serving 25 years of his life sentence.
Students of the University of Cape Town began to protest for justice for Nene and the senseless murders of more women around South Africa. The protests later grew to the public, catching the attention of the president. This resulted in the announcement of reforms to give sex offenders harsher punishments.
In celebration of Nene’s life, the Uyinene Mrwetyana Foundation was developed in Makhanda, Eastern Cape. A scholarship in her name was also founded for female students in the Humanities faculty of the University of Cape Town. It is so heartbreaking what happened to Nene; she had a brilliant life ahead of her and so much to share with the world. Though she is no longer here physically, Nene is still making a difference in the world with her legacy.