Nomzamo Buthelezi, the late chairperson of the Societies Council, that will be remembered as an "incredible team member", according to the Student Representative Council's Instagram. Photo: Stellenbosch University/SRC portfolios

“Leader of the students” passes away

By Karla van der Merwe

Recess began on a sombre note as news of the passing of Nomzamo Buthelezi (23), Chairperson of the Stellenbosch University (SU) Societies Council, broke early on Saturday morning, 1 May. 

As evident from her social media, Buthelezi had been out with friends on the evening of 30 April, when she was involved in an alleged hit and run incident on Merriman Avenue. SU spokesperson, Martin Viljoen, mentioned that according to news that had been made available to the university, Buthelezi passed due to injuries caused by the accident. 

Stellenbosch SAPS confirmed that Buthelezi passed away due to the vehicle accident, and a case of culpable homicide is being investigated, according to captain Nathalie Martin, Stellenbosch SAPS spokesperson.

Buthelezi was a final year BSc (Human Life Sciences) student from Boksburg, Gauteng who lived in a senior residence on campus. Buthelezi served as an ex-officio member of the Student Representative Council (SRC).

“We are saddened to announce the sudden passing of our beloved Chairperson, colleague and friend,” the Societies Council posted on their Instagram story. “She will always be remembered by her resilient, kind hearted spirit that lit up every room she entered.”

The SRC also posted on Instagram that they lost a member that had “left a footprint in each of their lives”.

Buthelezi was also a member of the Stellenbosch branch of the South African Students’ Congress (SASCO) and the ANC Youth League Branch Task Team. The two groups mentioned on a social media post they will never forget the contributions Buthelezi made in building the SU community. 

Queen Majikijela, who met Buthelezi in 2019 when she introduced Majikijela to the SASCO Stellenbosch branch took note of and admired her work in activism. 

“She was a wonderful person,” Majikijela said. “Oh, she was a humble human being. She was a resilient leader; she was a leader of the students.  It’s sad that we have to speak about her in the past tense now. We love her and she will be missed.”

SASCO Westtern Cape thanked Buthelezi on Facebook for her leadership and “dedicating [her] time serving the poor and fighting for students”.

On the day her passing was announced, a vigil in honour of Buthelezi was arranged for 18:00 on the Rooiplein where, according to Majikijela, people shared the experiences they had had with her. A memorial service has been arranged for her at Academia Hall at 17:00 on 3 May. 

According to Viljoen no arrests have been made yet. Viljoen further explained that the University is providing full support to SAPS who is currently investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident and asks the University community to respect the privacy of those involved and to refrain from speculating about the matter on social media.

SU requests anyone with more information on the incident to contact the Stellenbosch SAPS at 021 809 5015/12

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