Family question UFH take on son’s death

Another senior university student has been killed – this time at Fort Hare University’s Alice campus.

TRYING TO COPE: Nomandla Mgijima, the mother of deceased final-year Fort Hare commerce student Uvile, with her son Ovayo at home in Mdantsane. Mystery still surrounds the circumstances of Uvile’s death last week Picture: MICHAEL PINYANA

While hundreds of mourners grieved yesterday at a service for Walter Sisulu University (WSU) final-year medical student Lwando Mantshontsho, 23, in Mthatha, a family in Mdantsane mourned the death of final-year UFH commerce student Uvile Mgijima, 24, who was also a provincial basketball player.

The university said Mgijima was attacked during a robbery outside the campus and died later in his bed, but his parents believe their son was murdered in his bed at the campus residence.

The family are not accepting the university’s – and his roommate’s – versions of the circumstances surrounding his death on Monday last week.

University spokesman Khotso Moabi said they had established that Mgijima and a friend were apparently attacked in a robbery outside the campus the previous night.

Mgijima’s mother, Nomandla Mgijima, says the friend was Mgijima’s roommate.

Nomandla said: “The roommate told us they were coming from town when four people – three males and one woman – standing under a tree approached them and demanded money and cellphones and started to attack them.

“His roommate claims Uvile was kicked in the back and fell to the floor. The roommate said they managed to get away from their attackers and ran to the campus and joked about the incident,” she added.

But Mgijima’s uncle, Mbulelo Mgijima, said there was no way his 2m-tall nephew could have been attacked in such a way.

“He is a professional basketball player. He is too tall to be kicked to the floor. According to the [postmortem] results, my nephew would not have survived that blow.

“The forensic expert also told us that he could not have moved from where he was allegedly attacked.

“For us it is clear that he was killed in that bed where he was found,” Mbulelo said.

Moabi added: “As far as [the university] has established, the deceased and his friend went to a local pub on the night of May 7 and returned between 1.30am and 2am the following morning.

“They were apparently attacked and allegedly fought back and later managed to escape with bruises and what appeared to be scratches and a missing pair of shoes.

“The police were called and they were joined by the detectives and forensics department. The police and detectives have not yet reported any outcomes of any part of their investigation to the university and therefore we cannot confirm or deny what the family has alleged,” Moabi said.

Mgijima will be laid to rest tomorrow at his home at Sheshegu village in Alice.

Meanwhile, in the Mthatha Regional Hospital auditorium, WSU students, academics, politicians, business people and health professionals yesterday mourned – and celebrated – the life of Mantshontsho, who was murdered on WSU’s Mthatha campus recently.

ANC provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane called on WSU to improve security at residences.

“We cannot afford the killing of a medical student, right inside the university campus,” he said.

A representative of the Junior Doctor Association of South Africa, Dr Siyabulela Siyothula, lashed out at alcohol and drug abuse by medical students, saying it was embarrassing and dragged the profession into disrepute.

Family spokesman Mncedisi Mfukula said they were all devastated.

“Lwando was doing his final year in medicine. We were going to have doctor in the family.”

WSU Mthatha campus rector Professor Jay Jadezweni called on students to be part of the effort to improve campus safety.

“Some of the security features like CCTV cameras have been destroyed and vandalised by students themselves,” he said.

Five WSU students, including medical students, are in custody facing murder charges.

Mantshontsho will be buried at at KuBanzi in Ngxingweni in Cofimvaba tomorrow. — /