Foundation established in Uyinene’s name
The Uyinene Mrwetyana Foundation hopes to repurpose the Clareinch post office where the 19-year-old student was raped and murdered into a wellness centre for people affected by gender-based violence.
This was revealed at the Makhanda launch of the foundation by Uyinene’s mother, Rhodes University student affairs director Noma Mrwetyana.
“We want to turn that post office from a place of violence into a place of healing,” Mrwetyana told dozens of community leaders, academics, politicians, clergy and pupils attending the launch at Uyinene’s alma mater, Kingswood College.
The launch of the Uyinene Mrwetyana Foundation (UMF) symbolised a crossover for the Mrwetyana family where mourning would be replaced with a celebration of her legacy and memory, an emotional Mrwetyana said.
Speaking out for the first time in public about the devastation of losing her remarkable daughter, Mrwetyana said she had been forced to reflect and think critically about what had gone in the world.
“Uyi-Uyi always operated with passion and eagerness in responding to social ills plaguing our society.
“It was particularly painful to have lost her to the very violence she stood so strongly against.
“It is a pain that — as I mother — I would not wish on any other.”
Her passion for social justice is the side of Uyinene that the foundation would tap into and celebrate.
“I stand here as a mother with mixed feelings dressed in emotions of many colours.
“In the midst of these colours I choose the bright glowing hues that represent Uyi’s personality.
“She brought light and positive energy to everyone she came across.
“That is the Uyinene we raised and set free to impact lives positively.
“Today we are here to share and build her legacy.”
She said the foundation would strategically partner with multiple stakeholders to fight gender-based violence and equip young people to stand against it.
Its approach would be three-pronged, looking at prevention of gender-based violence, providing holistic services to survivors and youth leadership development around the issue.
The foundation’s logo sports the now iconic photo of Uyinene wearing her green beret.
Before attending the launch, hundreds of people on Friday marched in Makhanda under the banner “Together Restoring Humanity” to celebrate the establishment of the foundation.
Social development MEC Siphokazi Mani told the Dispatch the provincial government would throw its full support behind the foundation.
“Government can’t keep up with the demand that comes with the growing scourge of gender-based violence, so we appreciate civil society and the public sector coming together to fight against it.”
Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle sent a video in support of the foundation.
She said gender violence was not unique to SA.
“We stand with Noma because no mother should have to experience the pain and grief you have, and no women or girl should have to experience what Uyinene did.”
Springbok Rugby World Cup star Makazole Mapimpi, who was unable to attend the launch, sent a passionate message of support.
He said he had worn a black armband with Uyinene’s name on it during the final in Japan in memory of the young woman and to highlight gender violence in SA.
Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said he hoped the foundation would spark a sense of decency in men, and make them realise their duty to protect women and children against violence.