War against women rages on: Housing activist raped and murdered

Community members and activists filled up the hall during the memorial service for Wongeka Vimbayo. All photos by Vincent Lali

The memorial service for Wongeka Vimbayo was held in Khayelitsha on Tuesday.

Dozens of church leaders, activists, community leaders and residents flocked to White House Community Hall in Green Point, Khayelitsha, yesterday to commemorate slain activist, Wongeka Vimbayo.

Reverend Nkululeko Khubule of United Church in Zion presided over the sombre memorial service. “The killer is hiding among us and has not yet been found, but the God whom I worship will strike against the murderer,” he said. “His evil action will backfire on him within 48 hours, and he will die like a dog.” 

Ward councillor, Thando Pimpi, said it was not the first time that a woman was found dead in Qandu-Qandu informal settlement. “We dug up a body of a woman during stage three of the lockdown there. We must pull together and fight violence against women,” he said.

Pimpi said residents who have information about the gruesome murder should report it to the police. “If you are scared of thugs, why don’t you give the information to the police and let them deal with the matter themselves?” he asked.

Social Justice Coalition (SJC) head, Thandokazi Njamela, slammed the cops for failing to track down and arrest Vimbayo’s killer. “The police have showed that they don’t care about the murder as they have failed to update the family on their investigation on a daily basis,” she said.

Njamela said the police produced post mortem results that were vague. “The police autopsy could not pinpoint the cause of her death and the time at which she died,” she said.

Vimbayo’s murder is sadly one case among others attended to by the SJC. Mjamela recounted a gruesome scene where a husband murdered his wife and buried her in his yard before taking his own life a few months ago. “We are moving closer to sixteen days of activism against gender-based violence, but the police are not showing any interest in cases involving violence against women,” she said in a frustrated tone. “Rumours are floating around the township about how the murder happened, but the police are not investigating them.”

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“SJC members will not rest until we find out who killed Wongiwe,” she said.

Community activist Ntombekhaya Mayongo vowed that she and other residents would take the law into their hands if the police don’t arrest the murderer. “We are still waiting for the post mortem results. If the results show that she was killed, we will take action against the killer,” she said.

Mayongo said she was worried about the well-being of Vimbayo’s  five-year-old daughter. “I feel for her daughter because it will be difficult for her to grow up without her mother,” she said.

Ward councillor Thando Pimpi urged those with information regarding the rape and murder to come forward.

Community leader, Monde Mlandu, blamed the escalating violence against women on police failure to patrol in Qandu-Qandu and support a local neighbourhood watch.

“If the police patrolled in Qandu-Qandu and assisted our neighbourhood watch, the murder would not have happened,” he said.

Mlandu described Vimbayo as a dedicated, outspoken activist who worked hard to ensure that authorities provide basic services in Qandu-Qandu and other areas. “When the ward councillor brings chemical toilets and water taps to the community, she would divide them among the residents and ensure that they all have access to them,” he said.

Mandlenkosi Vimbayo said the family received autopsy results, but they find them unconvincing.

“The police say that she was bitten by rats. We don’t believe that the rats bit her eyes while her body had not yet even started to decompose,” he said.

Mandlenkosi said: “For the rats to bite her body, she must smell first. Her body was not smelling when we found it in her shack.”

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Neliswa Vimbayo said her murdered sister grew up in Ngqushwa in the Eastern Cape and adored her sisters’ kids. “Our kids always knew that their aunt was around to pamper them, but now she is gone,” she said.

Neliswa said her brother peeped through a window and saw Vimbayo naked in her locked shack in Qandu-Qandu. “He hit her burglar door with a stick to wake her up and attract her attention, but she didn’t respond,” she said.

Neliswa said her brother saw a paraffin stove burning inside her shack and sand on her naked body and noticed that her eyes were gouged out. “She was not killed inside her shack because the clothes she wore before she was found were not available next to her,” she said.

Neliswa said her family believe that someone who used to visit Vimbayo  killed her. “Her door was closed but not locked. The killer knew where she normally hid her door keys. The killer put the keys where she usually placed them,” she said.

Vimbayo is survived by her five-year-old daughter.

Western Cape police spokesperson, Captain FC van Wyk said: “A case of murder has been opened for investigation after a body of a 34-year-old woman was found inside a shark in Green point, Khayelitsha, on 2020-11-12.” Detectives are investigating and no arrests have been made.

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