Murdered Rhodes student Lelona honoured

The memory of the Rhodes University graduate Lelona Fufu was honoured by the creation of an award in her name. Fufu was murdered while making her way to her graduation ceremony in April this year.

By Emily Corke

The Dean of Students’ Office and Department of Science announced the Lelona Thembakazi Fufu Memorial Prize in remembrance of late Rhodes graduate Lelona Fufu.

Fufu was murdered while hitchhiking from Port Elizabeth to Grahamstown to attend her graduation ceremony in April this year. She was to receive an honours degree with a joint major in Maths and Mathematical Statistics.

The prize will be awarded to a student who has overcome hardships to graduate in the degree Fufu excelled in. “The Lelona Thembakazi Fufu Memorial Prize will be awarded annually at Graduation to a student graduating in science with a BSc or BSc (Hons) who has overcome educational hardships to achieve very good results,” De Klerk said.

According to Bernard preference will be given to a student who has come through Rhodes University’s Foundation Programme and who has majored in the mathematical or statistical sciences.

Rhodes University invited staff and students to contribute towards the Lelona Thembakazi Fufu Memorial Prize. Contributions can be made by departments, halls or residencies to support the fund for the  award.

Dean of Students Dr Vivian De Klerk said, “Rhodes wishes to honour her memory, and link it to her departments.” De Klerk also said that this was the first and hopefully last time that a Rhodes student had been murdered under such tragic circumstances, a fact that had featured in the decision to create the award.

According to the Dean of Science, Professor Ric Bernard, Fufu had a short but successful academic career at Rhodes University, starting in the BSc Foundation Programme and going on to graduate extremely well in both her undergraduate and honours degrees.

De Klerk said that Fufu’s short academic career made her a true role model that fellow Rhodents “will aspire to emulate.”

The award aims to  honour Fufu and the work she did, according the Dean of Students’ office and the Department of Science. “The murder of Lelona was a terrible event at a time when we were celebrating the success of our students,” Bernard said. “To achieve what she had will have taken sacrifices by her family and hard work by herself,” he added.

According to Bernard, Fufu’s death is a sad loss for the university and for the country as the work she did put her in a position to make a substantial contribution to South Africa.

“The award will be a lasting and annual tribute to the life of one of our fine young graduates, whose career was cut short before she could give back to society,” Bernard said.


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