Esona Mrwetyana, the brother of the slain 19-year-old University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana, has apologised to his sister for not being there to protect her from her attacker on the fateful day she was killed.

He paid a tearful tribute at her funeral service on Saturday in Abbotsford Christian Centre in East London.

He says through this period, he has asked himself many times where God was when his sister had gone missing and was ultimately found dead.

“I know you’re in a better place where there’s no sickness, no anxiety, no stress, but pure joy and peace. The one thing I will hold on to is that to 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. Lala ngoxolo (rest in peace in IsiXhosa).”

The University of Cape Town Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng has announced the establishment of the Uyinene Mrwetyana scholarship for women in humanity studies.

Speaking at Mrwetyana’s funeral, Phakeng said South Africans should work together to fight gender-based violence.

“In the past few months, we’ve been left reeling in the wake of abuse and gender-based violence. It is of little wonder that there’s been a call for a state of emergency. We are living in an emergency where young women cannot visit a Post Office and expect to be safe. We are not about to raise a white flag on gender-based violence and ignore femicide as a crime against humanity, and we are not about to ignore the insidious inter-generational effect on gender-based violence.”

The Police Minister Bheki Cele says the former UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana’s rapist and killer is an ex-convict who served years in jail for hijacking.

The South African Post Office employee faces charges of rape, murder and defeating the ends of justice.

Cele, explaining his immediate plans, says, “We will create a special team that will focus on these withdrawn cases and the student cases. We are going for that. By the way, we have a team in the South African police called FCS. That team is specialising in these cases. It’s one of the best units within the South African Police (Servive). That team has sent 4 728 men to life (imprisonment).”

Meanwhile, dozens of women have been marching in the streets of Auckland Park in Johannesburg, and surrounding areas. They say they want to highlight the escalation of gender-based violence in the country.

The women claim that government is not doing anything to curb the problem.

“Every 26 seconds a woman is raped in South Africa, that is insane and something needs to be done about it ASAP (as soon as possible). We can’t walk around every single day feeling unsafe, that something is going to happen to us, knowing that we have our right but law enforcement is not doing anything to protect us,” says one of the protestors.