Concerned friends have told police in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, that student activist Vusi Mahlangu “disappeared” while on his way to a meeting with outsourced workers at the Walter Sisulu University.

A missing person case was being opened at the Madeira Police Station, Mahlangu’s friend Vuyo Mtonintshi said Wednesday morning. Mtonintshi said his activist friend had slept at his house and was last seen at around 10am on Tuesday before he left for a meeting with university workers. He said it was feared Mahlangu had been kidnapped after he sent an alarming message from his cellphone on Tuesday.


Mtonintshi said: “He did not arrive at that meeting … he later sent the text saying: ‘I am either kidnapped or arrested and I am bleeding … In a dark place at Mthatha, my phone is about to die.’” Speaking by phone Mtonintshi said: “We are doing everything to search for him … police at Madeira Police Station told us yesterday [Tuesday] they could not open a case yet, we came today to open a missing person case

Mahlangu, who hails from Mpumalanga, is credited with negotiating for outsourced workers at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), where management started a process to do away with outsourcing and improving the workers’ wages.

Mahlangu, nicknamed “Oldman”, was also involved in the #FeesMustFall campaign. Mtonintshi said he first met Mahlangu in 2009 and realised how he was dedicated to fight for the poor.

“He is a dedicated commissar who grew up in PASMA [ Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania] structures. He came to the Eastern Cape to help struggling workers at WSU, we are putting pressure on the police to help find him.”

Social media was abuzz with news of Mahlangu’s disappearance.

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