The post office where 19-year-old UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana was raped and killed should be closed and turned into a memorial to all female victims of violence, say some in Harfield Village.
The community is still in shock and hundreds of mourners from Harfield Village and neighbouring communities paid tribute to the young woman at Clareinch post office last Friday September 6.
They formed a long human chain from the Clareinch post office past Claremont police station in Imam Haron Road, wearing black and showing placards that condemned gender-based violence and femicide.
Many displayed placards which read, “Bring back the death penalty”, “My body is not a crime scene” and “Enough is enough”, among others.
James Fernie, chairperson of Harfield Village Association(HVA), said their organisation would support using the building for some other purpose.
“There are many options that could be considered in memory of Uyinene – a women’s shelter, a centre for homeless people – but I do feel that a thorough public participation process involving all stakeholders would be required,” he said.
FrancineDieckmann,chairperson of Friends of Harfield Parks (FOHP), said the Clareinch post office had been a depressing, neglected space in the community for too long.
“The heartbreaking murder of a young woman at our post office in Second Avenue, Claremont, must be the turn-around point for this awful place,” she said.
“Residents are volunteering to make a memorial garden in front of the building and the FOHP will support the initiative wholeheartedly, but I suggest that this must be part of a much larger plan to fix this eyesore at the entrance of Harfield Village,” said Ms Dieckmann.
Jenni Coleman, manager of Harfield Village Community Improvement District (HVCID), said residents were shocked and horrified at the news of Uyinene’s murder on their doorstep.
“As a committee, we supported the initiative of one of our residents to hold a protest against gender-based violence at the Clareinch post office, and it was amazing to see how our community supported the event,” she said.
“We think it’s positive that some residents had suggested ways of enhancing the garden and facade of the building to honour the life of Uyinene and other South African women, and we will support those initiatives,” said Ms Coleman.
Harfield resident Nicola Cannata organised the peaceful protests to honour Uyinene’s life and other women who have lost their lives to abuse and those currently fighting abuse and suffering from it.
“I support the suggestions of others that in the long term the post office should not reopen and that the building should be used to honour Uyinene and women suffering abuse at the hands of men,” she said.
Ms Cannata said she and many people had been served by the post office employee who confessed to Uyinene’s murder and said any of them could have been victims.
Thobekile Dube, a child mind-
er in Harfield Village, said Uyinene’s murder had shocked the community and placed a dark cloud over Claremont.
“People are not safe, this place has many students as it is close to the university, they are crying and are scared,” she said.
Elmarie Raubenheimer from the HarLyn Neighbourhood Watch, said patrollers were affected because they always try ing to keep the community safe.
“When we heard about Uyinene’s disappearance, a lot of people took to the streets to look for her. We tried to look for camera footage to find her, though unfortunately it was unsuccessful,” she said.
Okuhle Rulashe, from UCT, said their fear as women was that the outrage against gender-based violence and femicide would die down and things would go back to “normal” again.
“We’re scared on campus and tired of the complacency at UCT and of the police, because the police also mistreat us at these protests,” she said.
Martie Gilchrist, the SA Post Office’s regional spokesperson, said the staff at Clareinch post office had had several sessions of trauma counselling and the post office had not resumed its services.