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Wits pays tribute to Wits7

- Wits University

We must all remember that we are one family and lend each other a shoulder to cry on - Professor Adam Habib

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A full Congregation of the University of the Witwatersrand commemorated the lives of our seven students during a memorial service held today in the Great Hall.

More than a thousand mourners, including representatives from the families, close friends, fellow students, university management, academics and staff, as well as government officials and members of the public attended the service.

Gone too soon

Professor Adam Habib, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, constituted the Congregation and read out the names of the seven students, asking the family members to rise so that each family could be acknowledge.

The students who passed away are:

  • Mechanical engineering students, Letlhogonolo Mosime (21) and Nakedi Boloka (21)
  • Education students, Faranani Masiagwala (18) and Matildah Lekhema (20)
  • Medical student, Livhuwani Matibe (19)
  • Law student, Sipho Makhabane (24)
  • Actuarial Science alumnus, Dakalo Mulima (23)

The seven students passed away and six more were injured in a road accident that took place on Sunday night, 1 May 2016, in Limpopo. The students were travelling back to Johannesburg from a prayer meeting in Limpopo.

A fitting farewell

Habib earlier said the University mourns the loss of the seven individuals who were an integral part of the Wits community, and who also played a fundamental role beyond the classroom. “They were not only our future actuaries, teachers, engineers, lawyers and doctors – they were those who made this world a better place, they were agents of change in our quest to reduce poverty and inequality and they represented our hope for the future.”

He told the memorial service that the University has received hundreds of messages of condolences from government departments, civil society organisations, churches and many other religious organisations as well as Wits alumni and almost all South African universities and from universities in Africa.

“Keep our Wits7 in your prayers. Keep the families of our Wits7 in your prayers. Keep the ZZC Fellowship Church in your prayers. Keep the Wits University community in your prayers. This is a trying moment for each one of us. A moment where we should all remember that we are one family. We should remember this in the days ahead and lend each other a shoulder to cry on,” Habib said.

Dr Randall Carolissen, Chairperson of the Council of Wits University, spoke on behalf the University: “We honour and commemorate our students. Students, who had traversed the Wits University grounds in search of knowledge, noble ideas, advancing their personal development as well as the social development of their society.”

Paying tribute to her fellow students, Wits Student Representative Council (SRC), Nompendulo Mkhatshwa, said these were young lives that wanted to make their parents proud. “Young lives that wanted to conquer the edge that Wits University gives you and walk on this stage having been conferred with a degree from this University. As difficult as it may be as we gather here, let us find the strength in our hearts to celebrate the lives of the seven great minds that we knew,” she said.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande extended the government’s deepest condolences to the families: “The loss of these students is truly a loss for the whole nation. I once again add my voice to decry the high rate of fatal accidents that occur on a regular basis on our roads.”

Grief support

The University will continue to support the families, friends and colleagues during this very difficult time.

The untimely loss of our students is an absolute tragedy and the University has also called on any students and staff who may be traumatised and in need of grief support to contact the Counselling and Careers Development Unit (CCDU) for assistance. Visit the CCDU offices or call (011) 7179140/32 and they will call you back.

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