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Protesters, mainly women, gather outside parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, Sept. 4, 2019. Crowds gathered to demand that the government crack down on gender-based violence, following a week of brutal murders of young South African women that has shaken the nation. Placard shows one of the latest fatalities.
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Girls & Women

South African Student Uyinene Mrwetyana's Killer Has Just Been Handed 3 Life Sentences


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Gender-based violence (GBV) is one of the biggest challenges in South Africa, and the killing of Uyinene Mrwetyana in August sparked widespread outrage and protests demanding an end to the violence against women and girls in the country. You can join us here to take actions against GBV and sexual violence, and help achieve the UN’s Global Goal 5 for gender equality.

Editor’s note: This story contains details of violence and sexual assault.

The man who raped and murdered South African student Uyinene Mrwetyana in August has been given three life sentences and an additional five years in jail for his crimes.

Former post office worker Luyanda Botha, 42, pleaded guilty to killing the 19-year-old University of Cape Town student, in a crime that took over headlines and sparked a wave of protest action against gender-based violence in South Africa.

Botha reportedly won’t qualify for parole until he has served at least 25 years of his sentence, according to Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe.

In his hearing at the Western Cape High Court on Friday, Botha revealed details about what transpired before and after he killed Mrwetyana on Aug. 24. 

Botha also revealed that he first met Mrwetyana two weeks before the murder, when she went to enquire about a parcel she was expecting at Clareinch Post Office in Cape Town.

He said he told her to return on the Saturday of her rape and murder as a plot to be alone with her.

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When Mrwetyana went to the post office on Aug. 24, Botha reportedly told her to return later that day even though her parcel had arrived on Aug. 16.

Alone with Mrwetyana, Botha made sexual advances on her. He said in his hearing that she was visibly scared. He then grabbed her forcefully and raped her twice. After Mrwetyana tried to escape and fought back, Botha killed her and disposed of her body the next day.

In a speech during the hearing, State prosecutor advocate Rodney de Kock said Mrwetyana was killed for no other reason than “that she rebuffed the sexual advances of the accused. 

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Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe told Mrwetyana’s family: “She fought bravely and courageously. This was indeed a heinous and cruel act and crime. Though it may be cold comfort to you today, it is not without significance that she was a fighter and clearly had a fighting spirit for her life.” 

Mrwetyana's uncle, Vuyani told the Independent Online that the family is satisfied with Botha's sentence. 

"We do want to declare that with this kind of judgment, this is in fact a pocket of excellence on the part of the criminal justice system."

He added: "This judgement won't in any manner replace Uyinene but we do appreciate it."

If you live in South Africa and have experienced sexual or gender-based violence, you can find resources for advice and support here.