THE 25-year-old man who appeared in the East London Magistrate’s Court for the murder of Fort Hare University law student Nosicelo Mtebeni, has allegedly confessed that he killed her because she was “cheating on him”.
The case against the suspect has now been postponed until 28 September.
The 25-year-old man allegedly butchered her body and put the parts in a suitcase.
He is believed to have been in a romantic relationship with Mtebeni.
Her murder has sent shockwaves through the country, currently celebrating Women’s Month, with thousands calling for justice.
“There is more evidence to be collected. At the moment we have witnesses, one witness said she saw him leaving with the bags which carried the body parts. And also his confession, but there is more evidence that needs to be collected,” National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Anelisa Ngcakani said.
The Commission for Gender Equality and other women’s rights groups as well as University of Fort Hare students gathered outside the court calling for justice.
Last year, President Cyril Ramaphosa introduced three new bills to parliament that are designed to bring justice to the victims of gender-based violence (GBV).
While these bills have been approved by the cabinet, they are still up for commentary and changes from the South African public.
With these bills, the government hopes to tackle three key issues that relate to GBV: the process of applying for a protection order; state police not taking harassment claims seriously; and the lack of accountability and adequate punitive measures for offenders.
In one of his newsletters, Ramaphosa emphasised that these bills have come as a result of the public protests that erupted in 2019, following the deaths of University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana, University of the Western Cape student Jesse Hess, and boxing champion Leighandre Jegels.
He continued to highlight the importance of immediate response.
“The women of South Africa have had enough of lukewarm actions that do not address one of the most fundamental rights — to live in freedom of fear,” he said.
All South Africans have the opportunity to review and add changes to the new bills before they become law.
This part of law-making is important because it helps each new law cater to as many people as possible, and makes sure that nobody is left out of the new legislature.
Family spokesperson Teboho Mtebeni told the media on Sunday that Nosicelo was the beacon of hope for her family.
“As the family of Nosicelo Mtebeni, we are truly so hurt. We are truly so hurt. I cannot even express my feelings about it. We were looking forward to that she is going to change the situation within the family, but now it is not going to happen, she is no more.”
The incident has also shocked the community of Nosicelo’s home village, Khauoe in Matatiele, who say they found out about her death through social media.
A community member has called on people to stop sharing gruesome images on social media platforms.
“We are not happy about the social media in this country. We have just seen gruesome images on social media without being told what actually happened. We were hoping that the police will inform the family and the community in a decent manner but the images were just all over, we are not happy at all.”
Community members from Quigney held a short prayer session to show solidarity for Mtebeni.
A local church leader who led the prayer service, Pastor Corne Pretorious, said that the incident has shocked the community and as the church, they want to bring hope to residents and her family.
Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister, Blade Nzimande, has conveyed his heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of a fourth year law student.
Nzimande condemned barbaric and shameful acts committed against women, both in institutions of learning and in society in general.
“Our society cannot continue harbouring such disgraceful people and criminals, who are hell-bent to tear the moral fibre of our society apart. What is so even saddening is that the suspect would even commit such a gruesome act as we mark and celebrate Women’s Month,” Nzimande said at the weekend.
He said that he trusted that the criminal justice system will ensure speedy prosecution.
“By working together, by confronting difficult challenges, and by mobilising everyone in and around our institutions, we shall create a society where everyone, especially women, feel safe and are safe at all times and in all places,” Nzimande said.
Meanwhile, the University of Fort Hare management has condemned in the strongest possible manner the spread of misinformation on social media networks following claims that Mtebeni became destitute and was forced into pursuing an unwanted living arrangement with her murderer are of a fictitious nature and untrue
“In the interest of a well-informed public sphere and based on the seriousness of the allegations levelled against of the institution and its senior management, the university is compelled to respond to these misleading allegations, release further information over student deaths and inform constituents of the UFH’s planned and intended course of action,” the university said in a statement.
“The UFH Student Fees and Financial Aid Office has confirmed that NSFAS payments to Ms. Mtebeni were duly made and not outstanding in any way.. The UFH also wishes to emphasise that the decision of the deceased for a living arrangement with her former partner dates back to 2020, based on information supplied to the university.”
“With reference to the student who ended his life, the UFH Student Fees and Financial Aid Office has confirmed that the deceased student funded his studies privately and was not registered as a NSFAS beneficiary. Claims and allegations that UFH and NSFAS created a psychological burden triggering suicide are false and baseless, once again.”
The university added: “It is the view of UFH that the deliberate injection of lies into spaces where social media conversations take place serves only the interests of a few who need to deflect public and media attention away from real issues and matters at hand. Furthermore, the use of human tragedy for misinformation peddling is indefensible, divisive, and unfortunate.”
* Inside Education