The Wits Gender Equity Office (GEO) in partnership with experts and students from gender equity offices in other academic institutions, acknowledge women lost at each university through a mural.

In honour of Women’s Month Wits University’s GEO commissions another commemorative mural, an effort to highlight the number of lives affected by GBV on campuses across the country.

Mketeni working on the mural at the West Campus tunnel. Photo: Malaika Ditabo

The mural, located at the West Campus tunnel on main campus, was started on Thursday, August 18, 2022, and is set to be complete by September 1, 2022.

Visual activist (an individual who uses visuals; paintings, photos, videos, etc. to stand up for a social cause), Zenande Mketeni who painted the first mural of Wits student, Asithandile Kwasa Zozo, who was killed in 2020, returns to continue the fight against GBV with the assistance of third year, Wits LLB student, Tisetso Maleke.

Mketeni’s latest mural incorporates the GEO logo, a lime green ‘X’, along with the recorded names of 24 women from higher education institutions killed between 2013 and 2022. These names include Hillary Gardee (UNISA), Uyinene Mrwetyana (UCT) and Tshegofatso Pule (UFS). It also has a bright blue background and purple flowers, representing “advocacy in gender-based violence” and healing says Mketeni.

Thenjiwe Mswane says the motivation behind this year’s theme was the recent passing of Xolile Mbatha, a student at Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) who was stabbed to death by a male student on July 31, 2022, at her residence.

Mbatha is the second recorded case of femicide at MUT in the last five years, says Mswane. She wonders how many other lives have been lost at higher education institutions in the last 10 years, before the implementation of the community of practitioners.

These practitioners are a group of people focused on sharing ideas and solving social matters. The GEO is centred on fighting GBV specifically in tertiary institutions and is a member of the community of practitioners.

The incomplete mural has already inspired conversation. First-year computer science student, Mpho Murashiwa, says: “I think it’s beautiful. I heard apparently it resembles women or something that has to do with Women’s Month, and I think that is fitting because us as women bloom.”

Mketeni hopes that this project continues and expands to other campuses beyond Wits, “until a change in awareness is felt,” and “activated” in these spaces.

FEATURED IMAGE: Mketeni in a GEO t-shirt, filling in a dark purple flower with a lighter shade of purple. Photo: Malaika Ditabo