Three life sentences for Uyinene’s murderer

Luyanda Botha awaiting sentencing in the Western Cape High Court. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ANA
The Western Cape High Court sentenced Luyanda Botha,42,  to three life sentences and five years direct imprisonment after convicting him on four charges including two counts of rape, the murder of Uyinene Mrwetyana and defeating the ends of justice last Friday November 15.

Botha, from Khayelitsha, raped and murdered the 19-year-old University of Cape Town student on Saturday August 24 at the Clareinch post office in Claremont.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) regional manager, Eric Ntabazalila, says Botha confessed that he first interacted with Uyinene on August 8 after she enquired at the post office about a parcel she was expecting.

The parcel contained clothing she had purchased online which was not available at the time and Botha promised to contact her and tell her when it was available for collection.

Two weeks later, on August 24, he contacted her and told her that the parcel was available for collection.

He was alone at the post office when she arrived after closing time. After she entered, she searched her bag to pay the requisite customs fees. The accused started making sexual advances towards her.

Botha said Uyinene looked scared and did not respond to his advances. He raped her but she fought back. He then locked her in the post office safe and bludgeoned her with a heavy blunt object – a post office scale – on the head and left her body inside the post office safe. He went drinking at a nearby liquor store, drove to Khayelitsha and returned to the post office in the early hours of August 25.

Botha then cleaned the blood inside the post office, bundled Uyinene’s body into a post office bag and put it into the boot of his car. He then drove to Lingelethu-West where he bought petrol and burnt the body.

Botha was arrested on Thursday August 29 after police investigated a tip-off that the post office might have been the scene of a crime as blood was found on a mop.

Botha confessed to Claremont police that he had killed Uyinene and told officers where he dumped her body in Khayelitsha ( “Student’s murder causes uproar,” Tatler, September 5).

The director of public prosecutions in the Western Cape, Advocate Rodney de Kock, who oversaw Botha’s plea and sentencing agreement, told the high court that gender-based violence, particularly, the killing of women, is a scourge in society. “The deceased was a 19-year-old student who was murdered in a callous and vicious manner for no reason other than that she rebuffed the sexual advances of the accused.

“He misused his position as a postal worker to gain her trust, causing her to enter the post office. She had much to offer the country and the opportunity to reach her full potential but that was brutally cut off by the accused,” said Advocate De Kock.

Sergeant Lutchmee Chetty from Claremont police, who was involved in arresting Botha, said she was emotional and relieved after the sentencing. “When the day arrived for his high court appearance I just wanted this to be over,” she said.

Sergeant Chetty said she is satisfied with the sentence and is glad that Botha has been removed from the community.

Final year Bachelor of Arts student at UCT, Seonaid Kabiah, said she is glad the sentence for Uyinene’s rapist and murderer came swiftly though this sentence was not harsh enough for what he did to Uyinene and the incredible pain he caused the Mrwetyana family.

“This is not justice nor is it a victory for gender-based violence in the slightest,” she said.

Speaking on behalf of Livingstone High School staff and pupils, principal Donovan Niekerk said it is unfortunate that it took a heinous crime against Uyinene to create greater awareness around femicide in South Africa.

“We are satisfied that justice has been served and we hope that Luyanda Botha will serve the full extent of his sentence,” he said.

Mr Niekerk said the school prays that this sentencing will be a deterrent against such evil.

A Mrwetyana family spokesperson told the court that their hearts continue to bleed for Uyinene and they pray for her soul and will be holding on to the joyous memories and life experiences they had with her. “The intense trauma from the loss of Uyinene is a daily burden that is excruciatingly hard to bear and no words can fully describe my hurt, let alone that of my entire family,” said the family spokesperson.