Khensani Maseko: Family and friends bid farewell to a 'shining star'
While the country was celebrating Women's Day on Thursday, a grieving mother described her pain after losing her 23-year-old daughter, Rhodes student Khensani Maseko.
Maseko was laid to rest on Thursday.
It is suspected that Maseko took her own life on Friday after battling depression. She was raped, allegedly by her boyfriend, in May.
Prior to her death, Maseko took to Instagram, posting "No one deserves to be raped" along with the date of her birth and the day of the post – which was the same day she died.
Rhodes University announced on Monday that the alleged perpetrator had been suspended and the institution was working with the police as well as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). It was calling for an inquest into Maseko's death.
In a moving "Message from Mama" read out by relative Sandiso Maseko, Maseko's mother recalled the fond memories she had of her daughter – from her first day of school to her university days, where she exceeded all expectations.
'I don't know how I'm going to carry on'
"I was so thankful for God for you. I named you Nkanyezi because I believed you were going to be a shining star and truly you became a shining star," Sandiso Maseko read.
Mourners gathered at the Nasrec Memorial Cemetery in Johannesburg where she was laid to rest. In attendance, among others, was Minister of Police Bheki Cele, Rhodes University vice-chancellor Sizwe Mabizela, and university student leaders.
They sang gospel songs while some in attendance sobbed uncontrollably. The podium was decorated with flowers where speakers took to the platform one by one. A picture of Maseko was also on display.
Her mother said she was an example to many in her family and community.
"I want to thank God for the memories we shared. I don't know how I am going to carry on without you, but I trust God to help me through this tough, confusing time in my life."
Mabizela said Maseko's story had again raised issues of "anger and frustration" related to "women oppression".
"Her death must force us to pause and reflect deeply on the society that we have become. Men need to be taught how to interact with people, and with women, in a loving, caring and respectful way," Mabizela said.
Cele called for a new society where women could be free.
One of 'our very own'
Gauteng EFF student leader Mandisa Mashego spoke strongly, laying the blame squarely at the door of Rhodes University, saying it was sad that they had come together on Women's Day to bid farewell to "our very own".
Mashego said they would never forgive the institution for "taking away Khensani".
She also called on Cele to open satellite police stations on campuses.
"We are here to send a revolutionary send-off to one of our soldiers. We addressed her as the people's president, because whenever people encountered a problem, they would easily approach Khensani," president of the EFF student command Peter Keetse said.
Keetse recalled the #FeesMustFall movement, saying it happened under soldiers like Khensani.
"Many thought it could never be done, but it was something that was a reality."
Keetse called on universities to offer better support to students who had suffered from depression.
"This should be the last incident, it must come to an end. We are deeply saddened by the passing of our own," he said.