Mystery shrouds death of Uitenhage woman

School children aged between 15 and 18 years – gathered at the intersection of Graaff Reinet Road and Mosel Road, Uitenhage, as part of a Gender Based Violence march.
School children aged between 15 and 18 years – gathered at the intersection of Graaff Reinet Road and Mosel Road, Uitenhage, as part of a Gender Based Violence march.
Image: Werner Hills

Uitenhage is reeling with pain at the untimely death of SueAnn Klaasen on Thursday.

The 21-year-old is thought to have committed suicide after allegedly being raped by a group of men.

However, mystery still shrouds the circumstances around various social media posts claiming that the young woman was brutally gangraped before allegedly overdosing on medication.

Klaasen died five days after being admitted to hospital as a result of the supposed drug overdose.

Hours after her death, several friends posted messages of condolence on social media. This followed a social media post claming she was raped.

But according to police, no rape case had been opened prior to her death.

On Saturday night, Klaasen was rushed to Uitenhage Provincial hospital after her grandmother found her lying unconscious in her bed.

According to police, she was admitted to the intensive care unit and died at 6am on Thursday.

Police confirmed that empty medication packets were found next to her bed, together with finely cut pieces of glass.

Klaasen’s distraught sister, who declined to be named, said the family was devastated by the incident. Asked about the validity of the Facebook allegations of a gang rape, the sister said the family were very upset by the claims.

“We do not know how this started or where it comes from.

“It is very insensitive and the first I heard of it was on Facebook.

“I have since gone off social media because of it. I do not know where this thing [the Facebook post] comes from,” she said.

“If there is any truth to this, we do not know about it.

“The police must investigate and the law must take its course.”

Police spokesperson Gerda Swart confirmed an inquest case was under investigation and that Klaasen had died five days after allegedly swallowing glass and medication.

Swart said that no case of rape had been reported and that police were awaiting the postmortem results.

“Detectives are aware of the allegations of rape but we are awaiting the postmortem results,” she said.

Klaaasen matriculated from John Walton Secondary School in 2016.

Afrikaans teacher Sheldon Campbell described her as a well-liked and ambitious young woman.

“We were all shocked after getting the news. She was a lovely girl, loved and liked by everyone.”

Volleyball and maths teacher Bezra Hobbs said she had been an avid volleyball player at the school.

By 2pm on Friday, about 80 people – mostly schoolchildren aged between 15 and 18 – gathered at the intersection of Graaff Reinet Road and Mosel Road, Uitenhage, as part of a march against gender-based violence.

The march was arranged prior to Klaasen’s death but picked up momentum on social media after Facebook messages of the alleged gang rape circulated.

Resident Aashiqa Pather, 54, said she had come to show support after seeing the call for action on social media.

“People need to say enough is enough. We need to support the youth and encourage them in speaking out.

“This type of action is unacceptable. I am very disappointed that more people did not come out in support,” she said.

“This is everyone’s problem and we need to unite.”

One of the event organisers, Khazimla Salamtu, 17, said the march had been held as part of their effort to raise awareness.

“We heard of the incident and that seemed to have sparked further interest online in the march,” Salamtu said.

“We want action by the government. We want to feel safe and we want them to do more to protect us.”

The group said other similar events were arranged for Sunday at 3pm at the corner of Kamesh Road and Acacia Avenue, as well as a park-off at the Shoprite parking lot on Sunday.

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