Saturday, 28 September 2019

UPDATED: Meghan Pays Tribute to Murdered Student Uyinene Mrwetyana in Private Trip

Since we last saw the Duchess of Sussex visit Mothers2Mothers in Cape Town on Wednesday afternoon, the Duchess has taken a number of private visits and meetings "to deepen her understanding of the current situation and continue to advocate for the rights of women and girls". With Prince Harry busy travelling to Botswana, Angola and Malawi, I expect they very much want to keep the focus on his efforts, however, we will get information and images on the work the Duchess has been doing. On Thursday, morning she attended a Women in Public Service breakfast at the High Commission (we're expecting information and images to be released at some point over the weekend). Later on Thursday, the Duchess made a poignant trip which meant a great deal to her - she tied a ribbon at the site where 19-year-old Uyinene Mrwetyana was brutally murdered last month, to pay her respects with those who have taken a stand against gender-based violence and femicide.


Meghan wrote: "'Simi kunye kulesisimo' – 'We stand together in this moment'."




Buckingham Palace said it was "personally important" to Meghan. She spoke with Uyinene's mother to offer her condolences and to show solidarity.


When Harry and Meghan arrived in Nyanga, they both touched on gender violence during a visit to the township. We briefly mentioned Uyinene's shocking murder on the blog; it's a heartbreaking but sadly all too common occurrence in the country. The Duchess said: "My husband and I have been closely following what you've been experiencing here - as best we can from afar. But now that we are with you, we are eager to learn and see first-hand the work that you're doing, the vital work that you're doing, and that everything that is being done on the ground is making the great change that you not only need but that you deserve."


Uyinene was a first-year media studies student at the University of Cape Town. Described as someone who "only knew love", she was adored by a wide circle of family and friends. Perhaps her studies would have taken her into a journalistic career, someday covering a member of the Royal family visiting. The 24 August was another normal day; she went to the post office and was informed the card machine was down and advised to return later by a post office employee. She returned that afternoon and said employee stole her future when he raped and murdered her before dumping her body in the township where he lived. We know Uyinene fought for her life with every ounce of strength she had.


Her death has sparked outrage and protests across South Africa with women all over the country supporting the campaign #AmINext.


The most recent statistics from the police in South Africa reveal a woman is murdered every three hours in South Africa.


This informative piece from The New Yorker offers insights on the case and the epidemic of violence:

'For many South Africans, the protests following Mrwetyana’s death have been an indication that there are ways of responding to this crisis that go beyond sadness and anger and the state’s promise to set up some sort of commission of inquiry at a vague time in the future. Confronted with the reality of how she died, and the knowledge that “the post office” must now be added to the long list of places to be scared of, women around the country are reaching what feels like a breaking point. At protests and vigils this week, the mood has been a combination of fury and astonishment at how distorted our definition of “normal” has become.
This past Thursday, in Cape Town, thousands of people marched on Parliament to demand a more definitive and urgent response to violence against women. It would be easy to say that there have been so many marches just like it, with the same songs, the same posters with the faces and names of dead women and girls, many of the same slogans.'

More from Sussex Royal:

'The Duke and Duchess had been following what had happened from afar and were both eager to learn more when they arrived in South Africa.
Visiting the site of this tragic death and being able to recognise Uyinene, and all women and girls effected by GBV (specifically in South Africa, but also throughout the world) was personally important to The Duchess.
Uyinene’s death has mobilised people across South Africa in the fight against gender based violence, and is seen as a critical point in the future of women’s rights in South Africa. The Duchess has taken private visits and meetings over the last two days to deepen her understanding of the current situation and continue to advocate for the rights of women and girls.'

Uyinene will not be forgotten. More from the #AmINext organisation:

'Uyinene’s face has become the poster image of the #AmINext movement across the country and many women, young and old have chanted her name in the streets as they call for the State and for South African men to do better. She has become the symbol of a renewed effort to prioritise the safety and well-being of women and children in South Africa.
In her honour, her name will also be remembered through a UCT scholarship called the Uyinene Mrwetyana Scholarship for Women in the Humanities, said Phakeng.
"Each time the scholarship is awarded, it will be a cautious reminder of the tragic circumstances under which Uyinene's life was taken and spur the scholarship recipient on, to keep the flame of her legacy shining brightly. Each time Uyinene's name is mentioned in this way, she will be alive to us as we work together towards ending the scourge of gender-based violence. We do not want to forget who she was." She will also be remembered through a gender-based violence foundation, which is to be established by her family.'

Uyinene's brother Esona tearfully said: "The one thing I will hold on to, is that till your very last breath you were fighting. And I'm sorry that I wasn't there to fight for you. I'm so proud of you. Your fight is now our fight."


The name Uyinene loosely means God/He is truth. I know I speak for all of us when I say our thoughts are with Uyinene's family and every single one of the women protesting for a safer future.


UPDATE: The Duchess was spotted with Baby Archie at Cape Town International Airport where they boarded a British Airways flight to Johannesburg.


Read more on The Times South Africa website.

38 comments:

  1. A woman is murdered every 3 hours....it's hard to wrap my brain around this. Thankful this is being highlighted

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    1. Me neither. It is so shocking that it's hard to find a proper word. Meghan was lovely to go and pay tribute!

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    2. This is stuck in my mind as well. I find this impossible and inacceptible. I can't imagine in a country like this. :( EVERYTHING must be done to make our world a safer place!

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  2. And also thankful for the life I have

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  3. It’s cool that she is bringing more attention to this sad situation.

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  4. Any news regarding the murderer's punishment? Marla from NH

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    1. A man was arrested but the wheels of the legal systems turns very slowly. Even though this is a high profile case it can easily take 2 years before he is sentenced, if he is even found guilty. The sad part is that in the majority of these cases nobody is ever convicted.

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    2. He is due to appear in court November 5th.

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  5. As usual, excellent post Charlotte. If not for this tour, I would not have known as much as I should know about the level of violence against women and girls in SA. Thank you to the Duke and Duchess for being the vessel through which more people are made aware. My heart breaks for Uyinene’s family and for all being impacted by this horrific situation. I hope that this spotlight helps in some way.

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  6. I love that Meghan is highlighting such important causes as this. My heart just breaks for this woman’s family and for all the women who fear for their life in South Africa. I so deeply appreciate that Meghan highlights issues of female safety and feminism and love that she and Kate have carved out different but equally important focuses for their work. I wish all of us women could learn to support each other the way they do and not be threatened by each other but remember that we need to have each other’s backs in this world and there is enough love/meaningful work to go around!

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  7. Meghan represents all of us in paying tribute. In the US, women are most likely to be murdered by a husband or domestic partner, someone they trust. In all ways and in every space, women can be vulnerable. Thanks to the Sussexes for highlighting a global tragedy.

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  8. It is like what the women in India have been experiencing. My opinion is that when women gain more education and power and acceptance, men seek to control them more. Humans like to have a group that they consider to be "lower" than them, whether it is based on race/ethnicity, nationality, or gender.

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  9. I'm glad SussexRoyal is shining a light on this. It's sad haters criticize. Her staff said she could have more embargoed engagements. It's sad that women have to endure this. Thank you SussexRoyal for this. Duchess Meghan continue to shine a light on gender equality, women rights, and everything else you stand for. And same fir Prince Harry

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  10. Thank you, Charlotte for highlighting this awful brutal attack on women in South Africa. Yes, well said, Allison at 15:4; the need to be superior and controlling. 🙏🏽 Thank you, Charlotte.

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  11. Heartbreaking & terrifying what is occurring in SA & other places around the world. I’m glad Meghan was able to take some time to bring further attention to this issue & that it was posted on SussexRoyal. Charlotte, thank you also for this post. Peace & happiness!

    Dena

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  12. I am a long-time reader, but I sometimes leave comments. I am also a South African woman living in Cape Town. I remember reading about Uyinene's disappearance, and hoping that she was alive, although we knew that probably wasn't the case.
    I have two sisters around her age, living in a different city because of their studies. I fear for them every day, I fear for myself every day. I look at my back seat before getting into my car, immediately lock my car doors. I avoid "dangerous" places, walk with pepper spray, don't make eye contact with people when I'm alone and breath a sigh of relief when I see another woman close to me.
    I lecture my sisters about going our, checking their drinks, not to talk to anyone, take photos of the guy's face and car if they go out on a date.
    I remember the day Uyinene's body was found. I got up, looked at my phone and saw the news cycle, and I just sat on the bed, looking at the word "post office". I made my bed, and reread the article, started to get ready for work, and check in on my sisters. I didn't eat breakfast, just stared at the article and told myself to get myself together. I couldn't cry, I was stunt and it felt like I would break if I did – it still does.
    I went to work, and everything was so subdued. Everyone talked about it, women especially. We all felt it. That whole week it was all anyone talked about, during lunch, in the grocery line, there was a literary festival, we talked about it there, at the ATM. In everyone's voice, I could hear the shock, fear, and frustration.
    I attended the #AmINext protest, it was electric. Women coming together for our survival and we were sisters. I left around midday to go to work. After work, I read the social media posts and was shocked to see the violence that broke out, with the police arresting women for various reason.
    It felt like a second betrayal and while I stared at my computer screen, I remember one poster, it said: "She is all of us, that's why I can barely breathe right now."
    I still feel that way.

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    1. Bekkige Binnegoed,

      Duchess Meghan has made us all aware of the dire situation in your country. Thank you for using Charlotte's wonderful platform to post your incredibly moving testimony of what this is like for you and all women of South Africa. My heart goes out to all of you. I will look out for anything I can do from the USA to affect change for you and all women suffering from GBV. I stand with you. What can the international community do to help change things in your country? I hope you will be able to breath soon.

      R

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    2. thank you so much for your writing.you captured what is really going on so eloquently, i hope the situation improves foryou

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    3. Bekkige, Thank you for sharing your poignant story and your journey with all of us. No woman should live in fear and I am sad that you do. I have spent time is several African countries and know the great spirit and strength of your women. May your fight, sparked by the death of Uyinene, bring the results that are needed. I wish you peace and love.

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    4. Bekkige Binnegoed, thank you for your post. I stand with you, sister. I hear you and feel your pain. I feel grateful that sussexroyal can shed light on what is happening and hopefully support your campaign for change.
      Cara, Australia

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    5. I hope that soon the police and everyone in the government will change and make it well known that it is not OK to abuse and kill women. At the very least, I hope some publicity will make the government want to change what their citizens must endure to be competitive in the world. It's just horrific.

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    6. I found your post deeply moving Bekkige. We are all with you.

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    7. I cannot even imagine what you and all South African women must be going through, Bekkige. I have to believe that this cannot continue - it’s inhumane and astonishing.

      It is impossible to describe how I feel at my end, heartbroken doesn’t come close. I assume there are charities that are fundraising for this cause, but beyond donating, I will look for any opportunity to raise awareness so more people can contribute. I echo everyone else in saying we are all with you and send you thoughts of support and encouragement.

      Charlotte, you are doing an amazing job with this blog. Thank you.

      Liv

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    8. The most memorable high points of this tour was Archie making a sound when Harry said, “Archie meets Archie” (He probably thought he was calling his name / he did get a sound out of him. That was a hit and a reflection of father to son communication, and their bonding. Then followed by Harry’s walk in the land mines where Diana walked and meeting the then young girl as a mother of five children, one of them named after Diana. To see Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a living history was another memorable one.

      If the above was most memorable, your writing as you live it in this unruly environment of fear brings the chaos to reality of daily life experience of what the girls and women deal with in unforgettable ways. It is sad, and your absence of tears after knowing the news even says more. Sometimes it is better to cry and release the sorrows. When it is repressed, it can also be despair. Hope and wish is in order but there seems to be a lack of justice. May her family, friends and the community find healing and the support and courage to turn it around in making a difference for the future. Please consider to send this post to major magazines and newspapers. Mental illness, self-doubt, anger, low self-esteem, vengeful crime, and even up to hating one’s own gender can start from such environment of despair and fear. May she be the force of light in her death and rest in peace.

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    9. Caroline in Montana30 September 2019 at 16:20

      You have moved me to tears. Please know how many women are standing with you and your sisters and you can draw strength from that. Praying for all of your safety and that change comes swiftly so those who live in fear can be free and those who perpetrate evil may be punished.

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  13. Thank you for sharing this with us. It is heartbreaking and very important for the world to listen to.

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  14. This story fills me with cold fury. And such sadness for her.

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  15. Thank you Bekkige Binnegoed for sharing your personal experience. Your descriptions of your daily routine and your concern for your two sisters make it very clear the heavy toll of living with such fear.

    I hope the government pays attention because there’s deep anger here. People are fed up with the level and frequency of violence against women and girls.

    We hear you and we stand with you. - Martine

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  16. thank you Bekkige Binnegoed for sharing your personal experience i hope one day the will put end and i hope the government pays attention on these events people use their violence against woman and girls there nothing wrong woman gain power and education for example south Korean wife who earn more than her husband he will beat her and threaten by leaving her work to take care of kids before but nowadays they have a great gender equality there

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  17. Bring this problem out of the darkness! Femicide and trafficking is rampant, it's not just South Africa, In 2016 there were over 5,700 missing or murdered Native American Women in the USA. I haven't found information on numbers since then. There is no national database, there are different levels of law enforcement, local counties, reservation, tribal police, states, and federal. Not enough conversation, not enough information. We tell our girls, don't go anywhere alone, pay attention to who is around you. Thank you Charlotte for discussing more than fashion!

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  18. I pray for strength and wisdom for all who are working to bring safety and support to the women and children of SA. I can't imagine the toll that constant fear will have. Thank you Bekkige for the composure in your telling.

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  19. it is vile and heartbreaking what happened to that beautiful woman. there is so much brutal violence against women and children in africa and many other countries in the world it is heartbreaking something must be done. laws must be enforced with tougher punishments. boys need to be taught from early on to respect women and their bodies.

    good for meghan for speaking out against this brutal violence.

    may that young woman Uyinene rest in peace. i will pray for her mom and family and send them love and comfort and to all the other women who are killed every 3 hours in south africa.

    God help us all

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  20. Hello everyone
    Thank you for your kindness and compassion, I really appreciate it. I think Meghan's work and her effort to highlight, has given me a bit of hope. It starts meaningful conversation, which I believe will bring about change.
    @Everyone who asked how the could help, this is already helping.
    Thank you, Charlotte for sharing this comment and for writing this post and starting this blog. It is an amazing escape for me.
    I've just seen there is a new post about Meghan – so yay :-)

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    1. Believe me, it's a pleasure. Your comment yesterday brought home the true meaning of this tour. Thank you for your honesty and courage.

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  21. Uyinene's story is just heartbreaking. may she rest in peace and may the perpetrator of such horrible crime pay in this life and in the afterlife. I applaud Meghan for taking a strong stand on this: gender based violence is not a political issue, it is a human issue which not only can but must be resolved.

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Welcome to Mad About Meghan! We do so look forward to reading your thoughts. Constructive, fair debate is always encouraged. Hateful, derogatory terms and insults are not welcome here. This space focuses on Harry and Meghan, not any other member of the Royal family. It's not the place to discuss politics either. Thank you for reading, we look forward to your comments :)