Remembering Lwando: A Chronicle of a Death Foretold 


In many ways than not, the brutal killing of Lwando Mantshontsho by his fellow students at around 2am on 12 May 2017 at the Atlanta Student Residence at Walter Sisulu University, is reminiscence of a novella by world-renowned Spanish author Gabriel García Márquez, Chronicle of a Death Foretold published in 1981.

The central question at the core of the novella is how the death of Santiago Nasar was foreseen, yet no one tried to stop it. The book explores the morality of the village’s collective responsibility in the murder of Santiago Nasar.

Equally so, the death of Lwando Mantshontsho, was a death waiting to happen – and yet no one tried to stop the conditions that made it possible. His death also explores the morality and complicity – of the institutions collective responsibility in allowing the prevailing conditions in the brutal murder of Lwando Mantshontsho.

How so, the reader may beg to ask. Many reports following his brutal death reveals that his death was not the first – nor the last to happen at Walter Sisulu University. And many such deaths involving either alcohol, domestic or political violence – which all ended in the fatal stabbing of a student or students by their fellow students. The Dispatch Live listed the following incidences before and after Lwando Mantshontsho`s fatal death:

In 2010, a 25-year old student was allegedly stabbed to death at the university’s Bika campus in Butterworth during a scuffle with another student.

In 2014, students Sandiso Mfihlo and Anda Mhaga died after they were stabbed allegedly by fellow students on the campus in separate incidents.

In 2014 Mhaga, 21, and a social science student, was stabbed to death allegedly by a fellow- student at KGB residence in Mthatha after trying to stop a fight between two other students when one of the brawlers turned on him.

On 12 May 2017, Lwando Mantshontsho was stabbed to death

On 27 August 2017 Siya Majangaza, a 22-year-old electrical engineering student from Libode was stabbed by his roommate and fellow student engineer from Mthatha.

On 30 October 2017 an Eastern Cape university student has been beaten to death, allegedly by fellow students in Mthatha on Monday night.

As we approach the first anniversary of his death on 12 May 2018, there is a need to flashback and reflect on the statements that were published in the aftermath of his death including the following excerpts:

WSU vice-chancellor Professor Rob Midgley said the violence in which students displayed intolerance and disagreement was a major concern. “I have requested management and senate to find ways in which we can address such unacceptable behaviour,” he said.

In March this year, Midgley instructed a committee that would strategize on how to resolve a culture of violence which had been growing over the years. “This is a mammoth task because it is not easy to change culture. Our university is a microcosm of our society and mirrors what is happening within our communities.” “We cannot allow such behaviour to go on any longer. Our core business is to educate students and we want them to focus on their studies and engage us on issues that improve their living and learning at WSU,” Midgley said. Lubabalo Ngcukana 2017-05-21 05:35 City Press

When he was killed, Mantshontsho had only five months to go before graduating. His uncle Mncedisi Mfukula said the family was devastated by the loss. Mfukula felt sorry for the families of the alleged perpetrators because “they did not send their children to school to be murderers”.

He said the family had high hopes that Mantshontsho would make a successful doctor in a country in desperate need of medical practitioners. “His father died in 2014. He is the last born to his mother. You can imagine. Lwando was about to graduate at the end of this year. That is where we would have seen his real talent and potential,” he said. “I am reluctant to say this, but I think his death is a lost investment because he has taken his education with him to the grave.” Lubabalo Ngcukana 2017-05-21 05:35 City Press

Mantshontsho was buried yesterday at his home in Cofimvaba near Queenstown. His elder brother Luvuyo Mpofu said that, despite his youth, he had been very mature and an intellectual. “He was the intellectual in the family. He was my best friend. We spoke almost every week with my brother. I last spoke to him a few hours before he passed away. We were discussing my birthday, which is in June, and I told him that I wanted him to attend my party. I did not know I was talking to him for the last time. He was my confidant. I would consult him before I [did] anything,” said Mpofu. Lubabalo Ngcukana 2017-05-21 05:35 City Press

Zincedile Tiya, a former WSU student leader and current president of the university’s convocation, said he had launched a campaign to declare the institution an alcohol-free zone after Mantshontsho’s death. “We know for a fact that we are going to be at loggerheads with the students on this matter … but this is a debate we are going to win. We are going to intensify security and have constant police raids,” said Tiya. Lubabalo Ngcukana 2017-05-21 05:35 City Press

A final year medical student’s murder has prompted a request by the South African Medical Association (Sama) for the Presidency and Department of Higher Education to open an inquiry into the problems at the Walter Sisulu University in Mthatha. “This type of behaviour by medical students is completely unacceptable and calls into question the processes employed in the selection of students to study medicine in that institution.

“We are extremely concerned about what is happening on this campus‚ and have for a long time noticed a steady descent in instability. Violence and disruptions of the academic and other programmes have become the order of the day instead of education. This is worrying‚ and must be addressed urgently‚” Sama chairperson Dr Mzukisi Grootboom said. 16 May 2017 Business Day.