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Remember GBV victims

- Wits University

Wits pays tribute to victims of GBV and solidifies action on the ground.

Asithandile Kwasa Zozo smiles at Witsies as they come in and out of the Matrix

The colourful mural commemorating Asithandile, the slain student and victim of gender-based violence (GBV), is an invitation to engage with the struggles of women.

The name Asithandile ‘Kwasa’ Zozo is etched in the minds of many South Africans. Zozo, a first year Wits student, was fatally stabbed in her home in Eastern Cape by a jilted lover after she ended the abusive relationship. The fatal stabbing of the 19-year old biological sciences student rocked South Africa on 17 August 2020 bringing to the fore once more the scourge of GBV in the country.

To commemorate the one year anniversary of her passing, the Wits Gender and Equity Office (GEO) has paid tribute to Zozo through a mural, located near the Matrix multi-complex, one of the busiest areas on campus. The bright mural beckons from a distance and stuns upon realising that the girl whose eyes and smile sparkle, was lost to GBV. It is the power of this reality, that lingers and forces deep internal conversations. 

GEO Education Campaigns Officer, Thenjiwe Mswane, says the mural is a tribute to Zozo and victims of GBV.

“Remembering victims of abuse is an act of defiance against erasure, silence and goes a long way in highlighting the struggles of women in society,” says Mswane.

As such visual activism is a powerful tool in engaging people.  Zenande Mketeni says people are conflicted by the painting and the general sentiment is that it’s a beautiful painting but they wish it was under different circumstances. This is the power of visual activism.

The GEO invites members of the Wits community to add the names of GBV victims and survivors on the wall next to the mural and commit to creating a safer environment for women. 

Rachel Dolly Tshabalala

One of the names to be remembered is that of Rachel Dolly Flavia Tshabalala who died tragically on 29 June 2014. Tshabalala was a staff member in the Wits School of Civil and Environmental Engineering where she worked as a senior secretary. At the time of her death she was also studying towards an additional BA in psychology at the Wits Plus Centre for Part-Time Studies.

The brutal deaths and abuse of young women calls for intensified action against GBV. Nosicelo Mtembeni (University of Fort Hare), Uyinene Mrwetyana (University of Cape Town), Zolile Khumalo (Mangosuthu University of Technology), Takalani Mbulungeni (University of Venda) are just a few of the thousand women whose lives were cut short by GBV.  

At Wits, the GEO is a partner in this battle and continues to be on the ground through ongoing education and awareness campaigns on campus. The Office will conclude August by holding a discussion themed Deconstructing Masculinity. 

The Department of Higher Education and Training will also host a webinar on 27 August 2021 titled From policy to implementation – action and accountability. The Departments intends to release a set of instruments that will help turn the sectoral GBV Policy Framework (launched by Minister Blade Nzimande in July 2020) into action.

Topical discussion by the Gender Equity Office to end Women's Month