Viva Women’s Month, Viva!

WITH Women’s Month coming to an end, Vuvuzela spoke to two well-known alumni to get their views on Women’s Month and why Men’s Month is not in South Africa’s future.


Helen Zille, leader of the Democratic Alliance


Helen Zille

Helen Zille, leader of the DA, has made a name for herself in South African politics. She obtained a bachelor of arts degree at Wits and says Women’s Day (and month) allows South Africans to remember the women who made difficult choices in the past so we can have a more equal society today.

“It [Women’s Month] is also a time when we should recommit ourselves to opening up more opportunities for women and address the challenges women face in South Africa,” Zille says.

She says women should do whatever they feel like doing in Women’s Month and “not only what they have to do”.

“Women’s Day is significant but also slightly patronising. It enables society to compartmentalise women’s issues, rather than dealing with the underlying causes…

“So many men think it is their right to have multiple concurrent sexual partners…and young girls are often forced into their first sexual experience.

“Let’s deal with those core issues every day and not compartmentalise women’s issue into one day or month each year.”

Zille’s ultimate spoiling experience would be a meal with her family and she says there is no Men’s Day in South Africa because “every day is Men’s Day”.

Samantha Cowen, presenter on 94.7 Highveld Stereo's Breakfast Xpress team. Photo: courtesy

Samantha Cowen

Samantha Cowen’s voice is well-known in the wider Joburg area. She has hosted the Rude Awakening and the Breakfast Xpress on 94.7 Highveld Stereo for about 10 years now. She is also an ex-Witsie and says Women’s Month gives a chance for women to regroup and identify challenges.

“The maternal mortality in this country is still too high, as is HIV transmission among women and there’s a lost generation of women in their late 40s and early 50s who haven’t had the education and opportunities the rest of us have.”

She also thinks women should “not do anything” on Women’s Day or Month.

“I think women do too much on a daily basis. We’ve forgotten how important it is to have a nice cup of tea and a little sit down. And exhale.”

Her ultimate spoiling experience would be an afternoon where she has to do nothing at all and to “not think about anything at all”.

She does however think there should be a Men’s Day and Month. “I think men are in a very difficult position at the moment. Perhaps a day to reflect on the various talents we should be celebrating in the male gender would give both sexes a chance to acknowledge those.”

And why does she think there is no Men’s Day or Month in South Africa? “I have no idea! Find me a parliamentary suggestion box and I’ll pop it in!”

Bidvest Wits losing the battle against Amakhosi

Dejected Bidvest Wits midfielder,Fabricio Rodrigues(centre),walks to the change rooms after the team lost to Chiefs on Wednesday night.


THE CLEVER Boys failed to outsmart Kaizer Chiefs, suffering a repeat 2-1 loss with three points at stake, in a high-flying Absa Premiership encounter at FNB Stadium on Wednesday night.

The defeat came while Wits were still recovering from an MTN 8 quarter-final defeat at the hands of the mighty Amakhosi, at the same venue three weeks ago, with the same score-line.

The game got off to a rather slow start with both teams showing respect for each other in the opening minutes. As a result, the first 20 minutes saw minimal scoring opportunities created. 

With home support behind them, Chiefs started opening the game up in the latter stages of the first half, with Siphiwe Tshabalala notably posing the biggest threat to the Wits defence on the right side. Tshabalala supplied two assists to Josta Dladla and Kaizer Motaung Jnr respectively to put Chiefs in the lead, but Wits keeper, Energy Murambadoro, pulled off good saves to keep the half-time score at 0-0.

Chiefs keeper Itumeleng Khune was also busy keeping out the Wits attack which was spearheaded by pacy wingers, Bongolwethu Jayiya and Sifiso Myeni, who had to be closely watched.

The attacking play by both teams was more exciting in the second half and it was Chiefs who broke the deadlock with a powerfully headed goal by Dladla, in the 53rd minute, from a Tshabalala cross.

 Playmaker, Thando Mngomeni, was introduced into the game by coach Roger De Sa to add firepower to the Wits attack and the Clever Boys were rewarded with a 67th minute equaliser by Sibusiso Vilakazi, setting up the game for a grand finish.

Chiefs coach Vladimir Vermezovic was not to be outdone with substitutions and sent on striker Lehlohonolo Majoro, who scored within five minutes via a header from Dladla’s cross.

Wits continued to fight back but the resilient Chiefs backline held on strongly, coping with Wits’s threat. The final whistle meant Chiefs sailed to the top of the Premiership log with three wins from three games. Wits stand in ninth position with four points,  also from three games.




Med school`s hidden treasure

When people think “Wits Medical Campus”, students walking around in white coats with stethoscopes around their necks is what typically comes to mind. Vuvuzela took a tour of the Adler Museum of Medicine and the Huntington Museum to discover the treasure of secrets many Witsies are unaware of.


Open road gunfight near Wits

A RUSH hour shootout took place near Wits last Friday morning resulting in at least one wounded person.

 At about 8am on August 19 a witness called into the John Robbie show on talk radio station 702 to report a shooting she had witnessed on Barry Hertzog drive.

The caller claimed she was transporting her son to varsity in Newtown when she saw  “one man get out his car and shoot through another man’s car window”.

Police arrived shortly after the call and detectives had arrived by midday to conduct an investigation.

Another witness, 21-year-old Sukoluhle Ndlovu, who was standing and handing out pamphlets at a traffic light close to the incident, recalled the order of events:

“I saw two cars arrive and later two men were running away from some policemen, who were shooting at the men from the cars. They caught one man after they [the police] shot him in the foot. The man who was running away from them also had a gun. Netcare came after the man had been shot and took him to hospital.”

“I heard that they were having a misunderstanding in the road… and that they were racing.”

A metro policeman who was at the scene refused to comment on what happened, saying only that “this was not a [car] accident”. No official reports of the event have been released to the public.

Ndlovu is originally from Zimbabwe and came to South Africa because she believes there are more work opportunities here. “I came to South Africa to support my mom by helping her pay school fees”.

 However, she says that seeing events like this is strange as her country doesn’t have as much violence:

“In Zimbabwe if you have a gun they will arrest you, crime is rare over there but in South Africa it is dangerous because you can carry a gun”.

A RUSH hour shootout took place near Wits last Friday morning on Barry Hertzog Drive resulting in at least one wounded person


Wits needs to wisen up in its water use on campus

WITS cites its reasons for not being a forerunner in the practice of water conservation principles on the lack of automated irrigation systems.

With South Africa in danger of running out of water by 2030, Wits needs to make some changes in its use of water in the irrigation of plants, sports fields and wash-up of sports facilities.

But, steps will be taken to ensure that overwatering of plants and landscape on Wits campuses will not take place again after Vuvuzela informed the Wits grounds facilities manager of property and infrastructure, Andries Norval, about separate incidents of overwatering at JCE.

“It’s been switched on since early this morning,” said a JCE security guard at 1pm when asked about the muddy puddles and overspray at the exit to Wits medical school. Around the Highfield residences the sprinkler system had also been spraying largely onto pavements.

Norval says he will ensure that overwatering “does not happen again at the sites reported (and other sites). I will also arrange to have the settings of the sprinkler system checked to ensure there is no unnecessary overspray onto paved areas”.

Highfield Reith Hall’s housekeeper was unable to find any Sonke Plantscapers’ workers, the company managing Wits’s grounds, to ask them about the sprinklers and why water was left gushing for hours and onto pavements.

Wits also waters parts of the main campus at mid day and sports fields are watered for the full day during the week. Tennis courts are also hosed down during the day instead of scrubbed with a broom. This is the time of day that water conservation teachings state not to.

“Ideally watering should be done early in the mornings and late in the evenings, but unless automated irrigation systems are installed, this is not possible at Wits. There are strategic plans to do exactly this in future and a start has been made this year to install such systems,” says Norval.

Ryan Hill, Sonke Plantscapers’ manager, says he “also noticed the watering on JCE was on a little too long on Monday”. “We normally water in the mornings and then switch off at 1pm, when we come back from lunch,” he says.

Water waste and management is a global concern. The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry says South Africa’s concern is that fresh water resources could be used up within the next 20 to 30 years if water conservation and water demand management do not become more than just municipal priority.


SOAK UP: A leaking tap, left on for hours on the cricket field resulting in a muddy puddle at Wits,East Campus



Graphic images scare tobacco industry

The global tobacco industry is on alert as US cigarette makers are forced to put disturbing graphic images on their packages.

 From September next year US tobacco companies have to put graphic warning labels on their cigarette packages. The new mandatory warning labels will illustrate the worst possible effects of smoking, such as rotting teeth, blackened lungs and a dead body.

 The decision by the American Food and Drug Administration has angered the tobacco industry, and the debate has now reached South Africa.

 A news24 online poll revealed last week that 63% of voters feel it wouldn’t be unfair to ask tobacco groups to put graphic images on their cartons, because people need to know the facts.

 Cigarette makers argue the decision is unconstitutional because it violates the right of free speech. They say advertisement for tobacco must be protected.

The regulation will force them to disseminate an anti-smoking message, urging potential consumers not to buy a lawful product.

They say the tobacco industry will then be acting on the government’s behalf, and this will give unlimited power to the government, which has already met its public health obligation with text warnings.

 On the other hand, those who defend picture-based warnings say the protection of public health must prevail. The new labels will provide information about smoking risks in a way purchasers can easily understand. They will also be more likely to be noticed than text-only labels.

 Those in favour of the regulation also say a commercial product doesn’t fall under the same category as a person with an unpopular opinion, so freedom of speech is not violated.

 According to the World Health Organization on the Global Tobacco Epidemic 2011, 15% of the world population is covered by warning labels as a form of tobacco control policy.

 For now the South African Tobacco Products Control Act of 1993 and its amendments state:

“No person shall sell or import for subsequent sale any prescribed tobacco product, unless… the package in which the tobacco product is sold bears the prescribed warning concerning the health hazards incidental to the smoking of tobacco products.” But legislation might get tougher.


REALITY CHECK: Graphic images will be put on cigarette boxes in the US to show smoking's worst possible effects



Bottoms up for Kudu beer

American singer Trey Songz won’t be the only one singing Say aaahhhh this weekend. Four chemical engineering students will put judges to a lip-smacking test when they participate in the annual intervarsity brewing competition hosted by Wits this weekend. The event takes place at the South African Brewery Training institute in Johannesburg.

The brewed beers will be judged by a panel of experienced and accredited Craft Beer tasters and judges from brewing clubs in Gauteng, according to international testing standards. Factors such as the conditioning and clarity of the beer will count and extracts of yeast should not be visible. The labels of the different beers will also be judged.

Nine universities will go up against defending champions University of Pretoria. Teams will be judged in three different categories: lager, ale and speciality beer. The speciality beer gives teams an opportunity to deviate from the normal beer making formula.

Evanie Deenanath, one of the Witsie competitors, says that their speciality beer is made from lager yeast and a mixture of various malts, mostly pale malt. The beer has a low sugar content and contains 3% alcohol. Their larger has a much higher sugar content and an alcohol content of 6%.

Deenanath, Ezekiel Madigoe, Augustine Mamvuka and Diakanua Nkazi form the Wits team who’ve created the Kudu lager, Kudu ale and Kudu light.

Their brewing process was done in their micro-brewery in the Richard Ward building. The plant uses basic technology and a new control system used to monitor temperature and control parameters. Before the addition of their Siemens control system, things were more manual.

The Vuvuzela team got to taste the lager and speciality beer. Kudu light (the speciality beer) is sweet and light; whereas the lager – Kudu Lager is bitter, strong and has great body. There is a great balance of hops and yeast in the lager. Hops are herbs used to impart a bitter and tangy flavour to beer.

Last year, the Wits team came second in all beer categories. This year they are hoping to take the trophy and bragging rights.

HOME BASE:The Wits micro-brewery where students brewed their beers for the intervarsity competition this week.

Witsies’ apathy towards SRC elections

Less than 10% of students had cast their vote for the 2011/2012 Student Representative Council by midday on Wednesday, the last day for voting.

Throughout the day, there were more people queuing for 2012 enrolment queries outside the Student Enrolment Centre in Senate House than at the voting station next to it.

Wits University has more than 29 000 students enrolled, yet only an estimated 925 students across all campuses had voted with only 5 hours left until the polls closed. A further 220 students needed to vote before the 10% mark could be reached.

Chief electoral officer, Jabu Mashinini, said the electoral committee held a meeting to consider extending the deadline for voting because by the end of Wednesday just over a 1000 students had cast their vote.

Mashinini added that the number of voters had increased this year.

Brian Bonani Gqoyi, a BSc computer science student, said he didn’t vote because of his lack of interest and not finding anything to attract him to the elections.

Parties and independent candidates vying for student’s votes campaigned for two weeks before elections and even promoted themselves for votes on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. SMS campaigning was also used as a strategy to attract voters to polls.

But, despite all the efforts taken by the voting candidates to campaign, Wits students are not taking the time to vote.

Akin Oyedele, a 3rd year BA student and first-time voter, was one of the students who made their mark in electing next year’ s SRC.

 “I voted this year because I haven’t voted before and I don’t like the idea of a one-party SRC. A one-party government anywhere isn’t exactly ideal because there has to be [an] opposition and it’s better if it comes from within the council,” said Oyedele.

In another 12 months we’ll see whether the incoming SRC will make enough of an impact to evoke significant voter interest in students at Wits.

Slice of Life: Letting go to receive

Looking back to this time last year; I thought I was a failure. I had just dropped out of a postgraduate degree, again, and had no clue where my life was headed.

Fast-forward to 2011, and the situation could not be more different. In a complete turnaround, I now know what I want out of life, am finally obtaining the skills I need to ensure that I get there, and every day is a confirmation that I am finally on the path my Maker had planned for me. Hooray!

I’ll be the first to admit the experience of letting go of the world I had known until then was daunting, but what I gained from it are pearls of wisdom for which I am eternally grateful.

The temporary delay and lack of clarity regarding life’s great questions taught me that it’s OK to let go of what no longer works for you; that it’s OK to admit you don’t know what you’re doing, and that you don’t have all the answers. I also learned that it was OK to admit that there might just be a power bigger than you and that you need rescuing.

Let go I did, and to my surprise and delight, have received so much in return. Right now, I am at the best place in my life, for this season. I am at the cusp of the dreams which for so long I’d thought were unattainable; I see God’s work in my life, and I know for sure that He knows the plans He has for me.

I may not know what situations or “facts of life” you’re hanging on to. While I am not promoting mass dropout, now I know that when your choices have boxed you in and it seems there’s nowhere to go, you need to start letting go. It might seem frightening and more than just a little risky, but there is life and abundance beyond what holds us back because in acknowledging, rather than covering up, our weaknesses, we begin our journey to overcoming and victory. All it takes is letting go.


Guard stops suicide

: Traffic Officer Michael Bodibe point to the ledge a girl attempting suicide stood barefooted.

IN a scene that could have been in an action movie, a Wits traffic control officer grabbed the arm of a young girl and stopped her plunging to her death on the M1 South highway on Wednesday morningOfficer Michael Bodibe says he was walking up towards the Amic deck, at aabout 10.20am, when he saw a woman’s handbag and shoes lying on the grass. He then noticed a girl who had climbed over a railing and was standing on the ledge of the Amic deck, above the  highway.

“You know, I just said to myself; if I can save this girl dear God… the only life lost now is my radio which fell on the ledge), but at least that can be retrieved.”

. As Bodibe was holding onto the girl, he called on some students  to help him pull her over the railing (almost a metre high). “I grabbed her hand because I saw that if I held her jersey – she’d be gone.”

Once Bodibe and two students helped get the girl over the railing, Bodibe says he  borrowed a radio from a colleagues and called security campus. “They literally had to cuddle her because she was fighting them off, screaming ‘let me go, let me go’”, said Rofhiwa Madzena, a first year student who witnessed the event.

“He (Bodibe) literally caught her in the nick of time. I feel pretty traumatised… It was unbelievable because sadly, you see this in the movies, but don’t expect to see it first-hand”.

Bodibe says campus security arrived shortly after he made the SOS call. “They (campus security) took her to Social Sciences – they went with the boy who helped me.”

On Thursday, Bodibe said the social work department confirmed the girl was brought to their offices. Michael Mahada of campus control said, “The student is in a stable condition and has now been transferred to a hospital where she is being treated”.

‘R1800 just not enough’


NO WORK, NO MONEY: A single mother of four, Sara Phalane has decided to sell snacks in order to have money since she and other wits cleaners who have been striking for weeks are not going to get played. Photo: sthandiwe mchunu)

Wits cleaners will continue striking until they earn a minimum wage of R4 300 per month.They say the R 1800 they earn doesn’t cover all their expenses.

Forty nine year old Sara Phalane, a Supercare cleaner, says she decided to sell snacks when the strike began to generate some income during the ‘no work no pay’ strike. The single mother of four says she makes about R60 per day, which is not enough for her expenses.

Phalane says the R1 800 she earns as a cleaner is spent on food and clothes bought at a low cost and she can’t satisfy her kids the way she wants to.

“I failed to pay my son’s school trip and he was unhappy. Poverty is ruining my family’s happiness.”

Phalane dreamed of becoming a social worker but her dreams were crushed when she dropped out of school in Standard 3. “I regret dropping out, I feel like I failed my children, but I wish they could get education and better their lives.”

Carovone cleaner Monica Tlhaole says her son blames her for his drug addiction. Her son started smoking nyaope (a drug that contains heroin) after she couldn’t afford to buy him a suit for his matric dance.

 “He calls me all sorts of names when he is high.  He even blamed me for smoking nyaope.

“He once said who am I to tell him to get an education when I am just a cleaner who can’t afford to buy them (siblings) clothes and sometimes food.”

The 38-year-old mother of three says her son wanted to be a meteorologist but “nyaope destroyed his dreams”.

 “I blame myself for my son’s failures, I failed him.”

Tlhaole says she has a matric certificate but could not further her studies because of financial problems.

 Tears ran down her cheeks when she tells us that her son has turned into a thief who even steals from her house and beats his younger sister.

A middle-aged male cleaner who asked not to be named says he feels like he is not man enough because he cannot provide for his family properly.

“I can’t pay lobolo for the mother of my two kids… how can I afford to pay R10 000 lobolo with my R1 800 salary?”

New views on Somali crisis

“I SAW a father going to bury his daughter, who was wrapped in a blanket, while women carried shopping and kids went to school”, described an SABC journalist about how middle and upper classes in Mogadishu remain mostly unaffected by the famine.

Vauldi Carelse, who was in Mogadishu for 10 days doing a report for the SABC programme, Special Assignment, said her piece did not do the famine in Somalia justice.

However, despite “a new tragedy unfold[ing] every day” she said there are many families in Mogadishu who live relatively normal lives and still have access to fresh vegetables.

Carelse was speaking at the Women in conflict: Focus on Somalia debate, which is part of the Phenomenal Women series at Wits.

Dr Fahmeeda Moosajee volunteered her medical services in Mogadishu as part of the Gift of the Givers, a South African disaster relief organisation. She said they were the first support the country had received from Africa.

“Maybe if we haven’t heard [of other relief organisations] it is because it hasn’t been broadcast or organisations have done [their relief] quietly?” asked Professor Veronique Tadjo, head of French studies at Wits, in her capacity as moderator of the debate.

Carelse disagreed and said relief organisations such as Doctors Without Borders were driven out of the country by groups such as Al-Shabaab, an Islamic militant group.

Most of the Somali refugees in South Africa are here legally, having declared themselves at the border according to Zaheera Jinnah from the African centre for migration and society at Wits.

Sowdo Hussein Mohamud, a Somali journalist, said she came to South Africa two years ago because of a lack of education and job opportunities in her native country.

She said it takes three months for Somali refugees to reach South Africa because they have to cross several borders and many get arrested, injured or killed along the way.

Hussein Mohamud said while she was walking in Johannesburg, a small child came up to her and said, “I know what’s happening in your country” and gave her 50 cents to help.