A national depression? Uyinene Mrwetyana, xenophobia and inspiration in the storm

Good Morning!

Here’s our latest edition of news you need to know on Verationality – Simple news summaries for busy people  

Suffice to say, it’s been a heavy week in South Africa. 


The biggest news items this past week:

  • 1. Femicide and xenophobia take centre stage ?
  • 2. Robert Mugabe dies ?
  • 3. Legal woes for Zuma and Malema ?

Let’s dive into those items, what to expect for the week ahead AND your inspiration for the week. 

For an audio version, listen to the podcast here. Otherwise, keep scrolling to read.

A national depression?

The nation seems to be in a shared cloud of depression given the spike in high-profile cases of femicide, especially that of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana, 19, who was laid to rest on Saturday. Her mother heartbreakingly said at the funeral that she was sorry she never warned her daughter about going to the post office. ? Uyinene was allegedly raped and murdered by a Post Office employee. 

The anger over GBV melded with fear and uncertainty over xenophobic lootings across the country. South Africans are just not covering themselves in glory of late ?

For more on Uyinene’s case and GBV, scroll to the bottom of this update.

What have we done?

Watch: mourners sing the moving anti-apartheid and funeral hymn, Senzeni Na? (What Have We Done?) at the Uyinene’s UCT memorial. 

The biggest news is that Uyinene’s alleged murderer had a previous criminal record for carjacking and a dropped case of attempted rape, but was hired anyway. He declared he had no criminal record and was not screened. The post office was informed of his record last year by state security, yet kept him on. However, the post office says the executive was not informed. Read more here

And, a public service announcement, women are being encouraged to name and shame their abusers, but remember that there are legal consequences if done wrong. Read more about it here.

Mugabe dies

Robert Mugabe, finally, passed away on Friday. As Peter Fabricius notes in the Daily Maverick: 

“It was ironic that he died far away from his beloved Zimbabwe – in a foreign hospital, a testament to the destruction of Zimbabwe’s own health services – along with almost all other public services – that he had presided over in his 37 years of rule. As he lay dying, Zimbabwe’s hospitals were once again crippled by a doctor’s strike.”

Peter Fabricius, Daily Maverick

There’ll be a lot written about the man, including infuriating praise such as the EFF’s Julius Malema calling him a hero and martyr. Ja. You can see the response to THAT sentiment in this Twitter thread – including by many Zimbabweans. 

My pick for you on Mugabe is by talented Zimbabwean essayist, Percy Zvomuya. Read his compelling literary take on New Frame, here.

Justice system ticks along

EFF leaders Julius Malema and Mbuyiseni Ndlozi are to be charged with assault relating to an incident that occurred at Winnie Mandela’s funeral. 

Former President Jacob Zuma lost the defamation case brought by his former minister, Derek Hanekom, whom he called a “known agent” on Twitter. This potentially opens the gates for other legal action from those he infamously called spies in his ridiculous testimony at the state capture inquiry. 

In terms of other news of this sombre week, I will draw from this column by Kevin Davie in the M&G:

  1. Nigeria protesters responded to xenophobic attacks locally by targeting South African-owned businesses, Shoprite and MTN.
  1. Eskom reported on Wednesday that its turnaround plan has stabilised the system, but that it has not been able to improve power station performance, meaning the risk of further power cuts remains, especially in the coming period when it takes more plant out of operation for maintenance, Kevin Davie notes in the M&G. 
  1. Bosasa boss Gavin Watson was celebrated at his funeral service in central Port Elizabeth, with former president Jacob Zuma in attendance and former minister Nomvula Mokonyane calling him a revolutionary. The man and his company is fingered in large-scale bribery to win government contracts. What an insult to the nation. 


Our heavy mood as a country will hopefully be lifted by the impending visit of a very famous couple. Arguably Africa’s favourite British royals, Meghan and Harry, are coming to SA. Here’s their full itinerary, including a meeting with Ramaphosa. Hopefully, we’ll see more energised pics of our president coming out of that. 

If royal visits aren’t quite the kind of inspiration you need right now, try this column by entrepreneur, Dov Girnun. He makes the compelling argument that we get into such a funk in SA that we don’t see how alive it is with opportunities for the taking as entrepreneurs. I can attest to this. Ever since I decided to start my own media start-up, which you’re so kindly supporting as a reader, I’ve been amazed at the support and potential funding out there for would-be entrepreneurs. Read his take here: 

There’s a similar sentiment in this City Press column.

Coming up:

The much-anticipated “Eskom paper”, detailing the restructuring of the ailing energy utility into three separate units, is expected this week. 

Moody’s, the one ratings agency that has SA at investment grade, hold a summit this week which will give us a clue on whether they’ll downgrade us when it publishes its next report on November 1. Losing our final investment grade would trigger mass portfolio investment outflows as investors not mandated to hold subinvestment-grade bonds will have to dump them.

Parliament is busy on Tuesday with:

  • A focus on violence and criminality in the country. 
  • Drafting rules for the process of removing the public protector. 
  • Discuss government’s (terrible) proposal around prescribed assets – using private and public pension funds to bail out struggling parastatals.

More on Uyinene:

  • Uyinene’s death sparked what activists think is the biggest march against gender-based violence (GBV), on Thursday in Cape Town – forcing President Cyril Ramaphosa to leave the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in South Africa. 
  • The general sentiment is that the response of President Cyril Ramaphosa and government, in general, have not been adequate to the moment. SABC airing a clip of him fluffing his lines in a televised response hasn’t helped matters either. Here’s what Ramaphosa has promised.
  • Africa Check has a very useful sum-up on five key facts on GBV in SA: It’s true that a woman is murdered every three hours in SA ? What I didn’t know is that a man is murdered every thirty minutes! It’s NOT true that femicide has spiked by 117%… more like 7.7% More here.
  • Justice Minister Ronald Lamola has vetoed bringing back the death penalty as a response – rightly so, I believe. 
  • Vigilante sentiment is strong: residents burned down a house believed to belong to the alleged perpetrator. This in a climate of continued attacks on foreign shop owners. 
  • The alleged perpetrator has reportedly confessed. Police minister revealed gruesome details of her murder at her funeral. Her body was initially missing but was found in a shallow grave. Read more here.
  • Solutions: How does one even begin to tackle something as insidious and multilayered as this? The M&G’s data desk interviewed an expert who said GBV should be treated like unemployment in terms of tackling it – with detailed data, proper monitoring – and long term funding. 

“It would be essential to establish indicators to monitor progress and to evaluate whether programmes were effective. This would require data on gender-related indices to be collected in the same way that Statistics South Africa collects data on matters such as the unemployment rate and macroeconomic indices on gross domestic product growth.”

GBV expert, M&G

That’s it for this week! Go to www.verationality.co.za to subscribe to the WhatsApp channel, for a more interactive version of these updates.