Historic conviction “a powerful message” to African dictators

Photo: AP Images

Charles Taylor has been successfully convicted for his war crimes at the International Criminal Court (ICC) today.

Taylor (64)has been fighting the 11 charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes since he was indicted in 2003, and the conviction today has many human-rights groups excited for the warning it sends to other African dictators.

“Taylor’s conviction sends a powerful message that even those in the highest level positions can be held to account for grave crimes,” said Elise Keppler of Human Rights Watch

Taylor is the first African leader to be tried under the ICC, and the first head of state to be successfully tried by an international court since the Nuremburg trials after World War Two. He pled not-guilty to the charges.

The former president of Liberia supported rebels groups in neighbouring Sierra Leone during their civil war, in exchange for access to their natural resources, including diamonds. The war started in 1991 and ended in 2002.

Taylor provided “sustained and significant” support, said Presiding Judge Richard Lussick. This included providing arms and ammunition to rebels as well as communication equipment. The rebels were responsible for extensive crimes against humanity including mass rape, the use of child soldiers and enslavement.

Taylor will serve his sentence in Britain. The length of his imprisonment will be determined two weeks after his sentencing on May 16.

A costly repair

Wits Sports Administration (WSA) has spent over an estimated R1 million in the last three months on repairing sports facilities, allegedly vandalised and abused by Wits students, on all Wits campuses.

While the issue has been ongoing for some time, the WSA is now struggling with a lack of finances to pay for on-going repairs.

“Sports admin simply does not have the budget to repair as well maintain all of Wits’ sport facilities. And over the years the sports budget has decreased,” said Vardhan.

The Vuvuzela was told that it costs WSA R300 000 to repair a single tennis court and that to replace damaged or broken tennis court fences will cost R80 000.

WSA, according to Vardhan, generates no profit and on some occasions have to get assistance from PIMD.

When asked by Vuvuzela if WSA was doing anything to improve security around the sports facilities Vardhan replied that locks are put on the facilities gates but they are either cut or damaged.

“Security is an issue and we at WSA have to constantly remind campus security to watch the students during major sports events as well as over the weekend and Friday afternoons.”

Vuvuzela observed that the service delivery gate to the west and east campus gyms have been left open since February and Wits students constantly “hang out” on the cricket pitch.

“Students have no respect for Wits sports property, they cut holes in the tennis fences and run across the cricket pitch in soccer boots,” said Vardhan.

WSA plans to generate enough funding to establish a mobile security team to monitor all of Wits’ sports facilities.

In addition to vandalising sports facilities WSA staff have also observed students vandalising sports ablutions facilities.

The walking of pets on the sports fields and the failure to clean up after them has also become an issue that has been largely publicised.

FREE FOR ALL: A lack of security is largely to blame for damage to majority of Wits' sports facilities. Photo by Akinoluwa Oyedele.

Commemorating Ashraf

Ashraf Lodewyk, a first team player and an active member of the Wits Basketball Club died in a car accident eight years ago.

WITS Sport will be hosting the 8th annual Ashraf Memorial Basketball Tournament this week to remember the late psychology student.

A total of 31 teams will compete in the 2012 edition. There are 21 registered men’s teams and 10 women’s teams. Seventy-one matches will be played during the four day tournament and teams from Limpopo, Cape Town and Kwazulu Natal will be participating.

The tournament will take place at Hall 29 on west campus from the 26th to the 29th of April, beginning at 9am each day.

Chief organiser Manyani Maseko said the tournament also aimed to promote good administration of basketball in the country.

“During the time Ashraf was administrator, the Wits Basketball club was well supported on campus. The club also became more recognised within the Gauteng region. Ashraf was a charismatic, committed and loyal individual, who gained much respect in the Wits basketball community,” she said.

The top men’s and women’s teams will be awarded floating trophies, while the runners-up will be given medals.
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Swedish “Golliwog” cake causes a stir

A black “Golliwog” woman screams desperately as a blonde-haired woman cuts into her genitals with a cake knife. Then smiling, the blonde woman leans over and feeds the slice to the now laughing figure, cheered on by her giggling peers.


This was the scene at a recent event held by the Swedish Artists Organisation to celebrate its 75th birthday. Artist Makode Linde was invited to design a cake, and chose to highlight the Swedish Cultural Ministry’s work against female genital mutilation (FGM).

Linde chose to create a cake in the shape of a stereotyped racial depiction of an African woman – the “golliwog” caricature with big white teeth, a long neck held up by gold rings, large breasts and pitch-black skin. Linde lay under the cake with only his head exposed.

Guests were then invited to cut slices of cake from the figure’s genitals. Linde screamed in mock-agony as each guest came up.

The image that spread all over the internet was one of Swedish Cultural minister Lena Adelsohn-Liljeroth laughing and feeding Linde slices of the cake she had just cut from the figure’s genitals.


The image caused outrage and shock, and the African Swedish National Association called for Adelsohn-Liljeroth’s resignation. Kitimbwa Sabuni, the head of the group, said: “According to Moderna Museet (the museum where the cake was on display), the cake eating party was intended to highlight the problem of female circumcision, but how this is supposed to be done with a cake depicting a racist caricature of a black woman … is unclear.”

Others argue that the shock people felt when they saw the images were an intentional part of the artist’s installation, and that it highlighted still-present attitudes towards Africa in western societies such as Sweden.

Liepollo Pheko (@Liepollo99) , Executive Director at NGO Trade Collective and prominent South African social commentator said:

“This is so nasty and so vile. Sarah Baartman was the object of physical humiliation and mutiliation thoughout her life and, apparently, throughout her death. She was sliced up while on display in Europe, and is again sliced up long after the last of her brutalised remains finally made it home. To even use the image of slicing a Black woman’s genitalia — supposedly in solidarity with women who are sliced on the continent — is perverse beyond words. And while smiling and carrying on like it’s some S&M thrill”

Max Fisher, editor of the Atlantic in the US had the following to say about the cake:

“The African in the room is a caricature, an outdated Western golliwog distortion that looks nothing like actual Africans. The black face, the tiny limbs, the face paint that exists only in Western portrayals – it’s a symbol of the Western imagining of helpless, agency-less, child-like Africans.”


Adelsohn-Liljeroth has sinced apologisedfor her participation, but still supports the manner in which Linde chose to highlight FGM. In a statement she said “I am sincerely sorry if anyone has misinterpreted my participation. While the symbolism in the piece is despicable, it is unfortunate and highly regrettable that the presentation has been interpreted as an expression of racism by some. The artistic intent was the exact opposite.”

Artist Makode Linde


Learn more about the realities of female genital mutilation and work being done to prevent it, on the The World Health Organisation’s page

Read Lisa Golden’s personal view on this story

Touching hearts through entertainment

Wits students and invited artists showcased their musical and poetic talents last Saturday night, in an effort to raise money for charity.

Jubilee Residence held its annual talent show, themed “Touching hearts through entertainment”. The event was organised to raise funds for the Door of Hope and Christ Church Christian Care Centre in Berea. Jubilee recently took responsibility for these two homes.

Bands including Trace of Art from Daveyton and Two Coffees and One Milk entertained the audience. The crowd was also given a chance to participate through song, dance and poetry during the open mic session which took place in the last hour of the show.

Opera group Cantores Magna Ensemble stole the show with their unique genre of music. They were the only opera music group present.

The MC for the evening was the sharply-dressed Lazola Cutalele. He performed a rap freestyle that caught the attention of the appreciative audience during the open mic session.

Ernest Oppenhiemer Residence won the raffle ticket draw, taking home a R300 dinner voucher for two, at Rococo in Sandton.

Chief organiser Dikamatso Mabhena thanked the guests for attending and donating to a worthy cause.

“What motivated me to organise the event was the lack of necessities like stationary and tutors to help the kids do their homework in the homes”, she said.

Additional profit was made by selling drinks, snacks and raffle tickets.


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Sunnyside up

It’s ok for men to cry, sometimes

There are few moments in life when men can act like girls and cry.

One of these (as everyone knows) is the moment a sporting team wins a major event, with the nation fully behind it. I have concluded that there is at least one other moment when it is okay for a man to cry: when Grey’s Anatomy is on.

Grey’s Anatomy gives men the opportunity to let out their inner menstrual cycle once a week. The scriptwriters, God bless their souls, have developed a wonderful formula. They have managed to create a moment in every episode when you involuntarily start crying.

An emotional script combined with an emotive musical score has created a new, but yet unproven, psychological syndrome. It demands that every person watching Grey’s Anatomy simply let’s go of all ego and manliness…and cries. (Wow, this is going to be weird when I discover I’m the only person who suffers from this).

Crying is not the big problem. Being caught crying is. I suggest you don’t try to hide it. You will make it awkward for the person next to you. Embrace it. Feel the cry. Be one with the cry.

But if you can’t carry that off, lock yourself in the room. Make sure you don’t make a sound, even when your favourite character dies. Otherwise your mother will tell your father and he’ll ask: “Are you being bullied at school, boy?” Only for your mother to remind him that you’re 24 and graduated from university three years ago.

Don’t end your day with Grey’s Anatomy. Watch a comedy, play Sudoku or check your Facebook before saying goodnight to your parents. This is very important, particularly if your walls are as thin as mine. I speak from experience: no-one wants to fall asleep knowing they’re straight, but hearing their sexuality discussed in worried tones from the room next door.

PS: You can cry watching the movies, The Notebook and Remember Me. However, there is no way you can cry for mundane programmes like Gossip Girl.

Sunnyside up

A local soapie star and a number of students offered themselves for sale last Thursday night, amid the autumn leaves, golden apples and green vines of Eden.

The Sunnyside residence held their annual charity auction, themed “When Adam Met Eve”, to raise funds for the Christ Church Christian Care Centre (CCCCC) in Hillbrow. Ten guys and eight girls walked the runway, alongside Themba Nofemele, who plays Ranthomeng on Muvhango.

But it was a woman student, dressed in pink and black, who stole the show. ‘Sider Blaze drew the highest bid (R1000) and the loudest applause – bringing in more than double the amount paid for Nofemele.

The MCs were Smash Afrika and Koketso Morakile. The girls were dressed by a Sunnyside resident named Cleo. The men dressed themselves.

There was no music for the first half as organisers could not find a cable for the sound system. Even though the auction suffered a few technical difficulties, the night was a success, said chief organiser Memme Monyela.

Refreshments were provided afterwards in a nearby venue for the bidders and the auctioned models to get acquainted.

The CCCCC provides children with food, clothes and help with their homework. Monyela said the SRC also contributed financially to the charity.

Every year a different charity is picked to benefit from the auction.


The runway model up for auction.

Model up for auction

One of the models facing the crowd.

Blaze, who got highest bid.

Auctioned Models strut for a charitable cause.





Covering Wits

Witsies were surprised and curious to see red Kony 2012 posters covering campus when they arrived yesterday morning.

The flyers formed part of a collaboration between Stop Kony SA and Model IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa) who aimed to raise awareness for the Kony 2012 campaign. The original campaign was started by charity organisation Invisible Children, to create awareness about the Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony in central Africa the hopes that he could be arrested for his crimes by the end of this year.

The posters were a part of a worldwide campaign to “Cover the Night” on the 20th of April, especially among the youth.

SA Stop Kony leader Giancarlo Agrizzi, Wits second year International Relations (IR) student, spoke to Wits Vuvuzela before the event. Agrizzi had met Invisible Children leader Jason Russell in the US who then personally motivated him.

“I would say that they have been successful, I mean, the AU sending 5 000 troops is quite a major achievement for anyone … We hope they will be even more successful after the 20th of April,” said Agrizzi.

5 000 posters were put up all over Wits, including the East-West tunnel, the bridge and Central Block.

Esther Caddy, president of IBSA and vice-president Chantelle Holthuis, said  they hoped to get Wits students motivated to find out more about the campaign.

“The students in South Africa hadn’t really taken part in Kony 2012 and they weren’t aware what it meant,” said Holthuis, “so we wanted to make an impact in our immediate environment.”

In reaction to the criticism the campaign has received, Caddy responded, “It’s not calling for pro-war activism, it’s calling more for global awareness and for global action.”

“It was needed, and what I like most about this campaign is that it is youth empowered,” explained Bambi Stewart, first year IR student and team leader for the night,

When Wits Vuvuzela asked Stewart if she thought the campaign would succeed in Kony’s arrest by the end of the year, she said “I think the campaign will be successful in creating awareness, but I’m not too sure about him being arrested.”


Photos by Akinoluwa Oyedele and Lisa Golden

Poster lies in flower bed in front of Great Hall

Team leader Bambi Stewart preps her team as they get ready to cover the night

Posters cover a wall in Central Block

Esther Caddy (left) and Chantelle Holthuis (right), President and Vice-President of Model IBSA

Handprinting the banner that later hung over the highway

Students cover a tunnel that links East Campus to West

A labour of love

Despite some outdated information, grammatical errors and no references, How not 2 Fail, a self-published book by a Wits student could just be a useful varsity survival kit.

Jamaine Mithi, 2nd year law, has written a 94-page book which he believes could improve students’ marks.

“No one accepted into university should be allowed to fail,” Mithi writes.

He has sold more than 180 copies of the book, which costs R50.

Mithi is doing his second degree at Wits and he wrote the book to raise money to pay for his degree. Despite advising his readers not to miss lectures as they are costly, Mithi misses a lot of lectures to raise money for his fees.

“I don’t have money outside me raising money, so I have to be more creative on how I spend my time,” said Mithi.

A student who read How not 2 Fail said reading the book was like getting advice from a peer.

“Just knowing how many students get excluded every year and knowing you can do something about it earlier helps,” said Ntokozo Ndimande, 1st year BA.

Mithi said he did not want the book to be academic. He decided to give the advice from a student’s point of view.

“This book is a labour of love. It’s to help primarily first years with all the information they need.”

Mithi normally sells his book outside the Wartenweiler library from about twelve every day.

IN BUSINESS: A student buys the book from writer, entrepreneur and law student, Jamaine Mithi. He wrote the book to help first years survive University.


SRC reports back on first quarter varsity issues

The SRC held a public meeting at the Matrix to give quarterly feedback on its achievements so far and to hear student grievances on Tuesday.

A number of issues including exclusions, residences, the humanitarian fund and school councils were addressed. SRC president Tebogo Thothela said they had worked hard to ensure that not too many students were excluded for financial reasons and that 152 students had already been helped by the humanitarian fund.

Thothela said this year’s Freshers’ Ball had been a huge success despite the security flaws because about R200 000 had been raised and this would be channelled to the humanitarian fund. He said R15 500 was raised through flea market stalls and, for the first time ever, education campus also had these stalls.

Feziwe Ndwayana, former SRC President, spoke emotionally against the use of the tag “humanitarian” in the fund that assists students in need as she felt it was demeaning. She suggested that it be changed to at least “development” fund.

She also asked what the SRC had planned to celebrate Wits’ 90th birthday. Thothela responded that lectures and a golf day were on the cards and musician Sibongile Khumalo was scheduled to perform. Proceeds from the golf day and concert would go to the humanitarian fund.

Students said the absence of an ATM on West Campus means they have to walk all the way to East Campus in order to get cash.

Yusuf Peer, SRC Constitutional and Legal Affairs officer,  promised disgruntled students from West campus that the student body would fight “tooth and nail” to ensure that an ATM machine was installed there as well.

“We have slept in the dean of students’ and the chancellor’s offices to see a problem is addressed and we will sleep there again until our grievances are heard.”

There were also concerns from students concerning recent muggings on campus. SRC vice president said: “We are paying a lot of money here, Campus Control is being paid and we are told we are not safe here?” Vuvuzela published a story on one of the muggings on March 16.

Time for change: SRC president, Tebogo Thothela, addresses students in the Matrix on Tuesday regarding varsity issues.