The sudden passing of a Wits student shakes Wits community. 

“She was a sweet girl, with such a sweet soul.” These were the words of Godfrey Chooka, father of 21-year-old Thehilla Chooka, a Wits University student who died by suicide at the Argyle House residence in Parktown on Sunday, August 18.

After numerous unsuccessful attempts to reach their daughter that Sunday night, Thehilla’s parents asked one of her friends to check on her at the Parktown residence.

Thehilla’s body was discovered by the friend and the manager of the residence, Edwin Muchidwa, on Sunday evening.

The identity of the friend is known to Wits Vuvuzela but she did not respond to requests for comment.

“I’ve left my washing on the line upstairs, I love you all,” read a note from Thehilla, according to her father who spoke to Wits Vuvuzela over the phone.

She was declared dead at the scene by paramedics who had arrived before the police did.

“She had bi-polar disorder and depression,” Godfrey said of the third-year pharmacy student.

The Chooka family is Zambian and lives in Springs on the East Rand.

Thehilla was a member of the Seventh Day Adventist student movement (SDASM). Wits Vuvuzela reached out to SDASM but they refused to comment out of respect for the family. Wits Vuvuzela also spoke to three of Thehilla’s friends but they declined to comment for the same reason.

“The loss of a young life is one too many, and there are no words that could comfort those who were close to her – our thoughts and prayers are with you all,” read an August 20 statement by the Wits dean of student affairs, Jerome September.

Professor Judith Bruce, assistant dean of the faculty of health sciences told Wits Vuvuzela, “Any student’s death is a sad loss. We were familiar with her and are shocked by her sudden death.”

According to Bruce, the faculty of health sciences have had a debriefing session with the students who were close to the deceased and have emphasised the importance of using available counselling services.

A representative from the Hillbrow Police Station confirmed to Wits Vuvuzela that an inquest has been opened. He also said that investigations are ongoing.

Thehilla is survived by her parents and a younger brother.

Her funeral will be held on Sunday morning, August 25 on the East Rand. The faculty of health sciences will host a memorial service that will take place the following week. Details have not been confirmed.

FEATURED IMAGE: Thehilla Chooka, 21-years old is remembered by her family and friends. Photo: Provided. 



Counselling Careers and Development Unit (CCDU):
[Main Office]: 011 717 9140 / 32
EDUCATION CAMPUS: 011 717 9268

Both offices are open: Monday-Friday 08h00-16h30


Wits Student Crisis Line: 0800 111 331

LifeLine (24 hours): 011 728 1347 or 0861 322 322

This story came to me as a tip-off from an anonymous source. Using the information at hand I spoke to six people who did not wish to be quoted but helped me to verify some aspects of the story. Another three agreed to speak to me and be quoted. Journalist: Tumelo Modiba Sub-editor 1: Ntombi Mkandhla Sub-editor 2: Gemma Gatticchi Editors: Lizeka Mda and Dinesh Balliah.