Jackrolling becomes more prevalent

Picture from hyderabbadailynews.comIt is absurd to wake up to a screaming news headline, “a 17-year-old boy allegedly raped the girl in the bathroom of Busisiwe Primary School in Zola, Soweto.”

A survey conducted among 1,500 schoolchildren in the Soweto township, showed that about a quarter of all the boys interviewed believed that ‘jackrolling’, a term for gang rape, was fun.

The word ‘jackroll’ was used to refer to the forceful abduction of women in black townships by a gang called the “Jackrollers” which operated in the years late 1980’s in the Diepkloof area of Soweto.

Jackrolling has now become a trend among some Soweto youth with the aim to impregnate every woman under the age of 26 in the township in order to “earn respect”.  Jackrolling takes place

in public places which enhances the perpetrator’s status.

South Africa has the highest incidents of rape in the world. Gauteng community safety MEC, Faith Mazibuko told parents not to relegate their parental responsibility  to government and teachers, and it is about time that the government change how they deal with the issues of rape in general.

She further said the Minister of women, children and people with disabilities should join hands with activists and law enforcement agents to form a unit to deal with rape.   Campaigns to schools to teach young kids, especially boys about the dangers of engaging in rape and gang rape “jackrolling”, would be welcome.

“In South Africa we can no longer wait for yet another sex video before we express anger. The police have arrested only seven teenagers in Soweto but there are many other young kids across the country who thinks jackrolling (lepanta) is fashionable.” Isaac Mangena


Ex-Witsie sentenced to 15 years for drug smuggling

A former Wits student was sentenced today to 15 years in a Thai prison for attempting to smuggle drugs.

Nolubabalo Nobanda was caught smuggling cocaine into Thailand after authorities noticed a powdery white substance coming out of her dreadlocks.

Around 1.5kgs of cocaine were found in the 23-year-olds’ dreadlocks, with an estimated street value of $150 000 dollars. Nobanda was carrying the drugs to Bangkok for a cartel based in Brazil.

Nolubabalo Nobanda

South Africa’s International Relations spokesperson Clayson Mayonela told TimesLive  that Nobanda was also fined R250 000, and that her term was reduced from 30 years to 15 because she complied with the police.

There was confusion when the story broke in December last year when Wits denied that Nobanda was a student, while her family and friends insisted she had attended the university.

University spokesperson Shirona Patel said in a statement; “Wits University would like to place on record that Ms Nolubabalo Nobanda, an alleged drug mule, was never registered as a student at Wits University.”

However it was later confirmed by Wits that Nobanda had in fact been enrolled in 2007.

Drug mules like Nobanda are often used as decoys for larger quantities of drugs, which go through customs unnoticed while authorities deal with the first mule. Nobanda told her parents in a letter that her friend, also carrying drugs, made it through customs unnoticed.

Legal steps have already been taken in the UK to give drug mules more lenient sentences, as the women who end up carrying the drugs are usually have no other option to pay off drug debts, or sometimes do not even know they are carrying drugs. Sentences have been reduced to five years, with mitigating factors to be taken into account by judges.

Due to international law, the mules are tried in the country they are arrested, which means Nobanda will have to serve her sentence in a Bangkok jail.

More than 600 South African drug mules are in foreign jails, according to Locked Up, a website dedicated to drawing attention to the plight of South Africans held in foreign prisons.

Click here to see a video from News24 about Nobanda’s sentencing

Public transport gets a shot in the arm

The Passenger Rail Agency of SA (PRASA) recently unveiled a R500-million plan in an effort to boost public transport usage in Johannesburg. This is part of the R1-billion the company will inject into major stations in a bid to improve passenger numbers, PRASA CEO Lucky Montana said. The plans involves the development of its property around Braamfontein station and link it up with the Johannesburg in an investment that will cost about. The initiative is touted to increase rail passenger numbers.
But there are serious doubts whether renovating train stations will attract passengers to trains without a feeder network of buses and taxis.
The 2006 national household travel survey, undertaken by the national department of transport, found that 52% of Johannesburg residents had no access to train services in their residential areas, compared to 5% of residents who reported that there was a no taxi service near their homes.
Itumeleng Motaung, a young HR professional who works in Braamfontein and lives on the East Rand, said she preferred to commute by taxis because trains were unreliable.
“Taxis do delay (at times), but they are better than trains. Flexibility is important if you are a punctual person,” she said.
She expressed doubt that she would use trains even if there was a connection between Park station and Braamfontein because trains were more often full and unsafe.
When President Jacob Zuma took a train on Thursday—to travel with ordinary commuters between the three metros of Tshwane, Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg—he found that they were overloaded with passengers. Most of them reportedly complained about the lack of reliability and punctuality of trains when they travel to work in the mornings.
The problem is not confined to Johannesburg alone.
A recent Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report on the integration of Gauteng as a city region found that residents who live further than places of employment were spent more time than those who lived closer to them.

Women upbeat about Phiyega’s elevation

Women upbeat about Phiyega’s elevation

Incoming police chief. Mangwashi Victoria Phiyega. pic.
123people.com – Glenn Mashinini

President Jacob Zuma, this week, appointed the first-ever woman police commissioner replacing the controversial Gen Bheki Cele.  Mangwashi Victoria Riah Phiyega’s appointment comes amid severe criticism from different corners but some Johannesburg women are now feeling extremely upbeat and positive about their safety.

“Ms Phiyega brings a wealth of experience as a senior executive who understands the responsibility of government in the fight against crime and the duties imposed in dealing with state assets. I have every confidence that she will show leadership and acquit herself well as National Commissioner,” said the President

Zuma expressed his confidence in Phiyega’s capabilities to take up the hot seat. Prior to her appointment, Phiyega was the chairperson of the presidential review committee on state-owned enterprises and the deputy chairperson of the independent commission on the remuneration of office bearers.

Following her appointment the media, security experts, political parties and academics lashed out at Zuma for appointing an individual with no policing experience to   head up the police force.  However, in an interview with several women in Johannesburg, all were positive and optimistic that as a woman, Phiyega will fight hard to ensure their security and well-being in light of the ever escalating crimes perpetrated against women. They also agreed that she should be given a chance to prove herself before being judged and attacked even before she starts working.

“It is too early to judge when we have not seen her capabilities. People will be surprised that she can even do a better job than the former commissioner. Why is there all this attention on Phiyega’s appointment? After all the former commissioner had no police experience,” Thandi Khumalo, (not her real name) who works for a cleaning a company at Wits University said yesterday.

Ousted police chief. Bheki Cele. pic.Eyewitnessnews

For young women like Mlungisi Mokoena (not her real name), a School of Public Health student at Wits University, Phiyega’s appointment has come as a huge relief since women are often victims of violent crimes. Janda hopes as a woman Phiyega is better placed than a man to deal sensitively, carefully and urgently with rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment among other gross crimes perpetrated on women and children.

“It’s a plus for all South African women because we have someone who understands us better and who will be more sensitive to our issues,” she said.

Milsa Janda, a Johannesburg based journalist said that like all citizens, she would prefer someone who is experienced to take up such a huge post. She however added that Phiyega’s lack of policing experience should not count against her – instead she should be given the benefit of the doubt.

“I always wonder how such appointments are made. It would be in the public interest to know the selection criteria used in appointing people to such posts so we can input and also showcase all potential candidates rather than just announcing the name of the appointed person,” Janda added.

Although she admitted to having her own fears, Phiyega was happy to accept the challenges and responsibilities tied to the post.

Irma Stern

Pic: Strauss & Co.

Yet another piece of art made the headlines in South Africa this week but not for the same reasons as Brett Murray’s “The Spear”.  An unidentified South African has just paid R17.2 million at auction for “The Arab”, a painting by one of South Africa’s most famous artists, Irma Stern.

Why would an artwork fetch such an amount?

According to the Room Gallery owner Maria Fidel Regueros, apart from buying art as an investment, other factors that contribute to the art price tag include the rarity, the market value and the historical contexts.

Stern’s painting was definitely a masterpiece and the high value placed on the artwork perhaps its value was inflated as it had not been seen until recently. Another reason could be that subject matter.

The oil on canvas painting was of an Omani Arab, which Stern painted on her first visited Zanzibar in 1939 while it was still under Omani Sultan – Seyyid Khalifa Bin Haroub.

Regueros says that when the price of artwork is “blown out of proportion” it raises the bar for the price of other artworks. “I feel that the markets today dictate the price of the work rather than the value of the art.  According to the Strauss & Co, Stern’s painting was expected to fetch between R7 million and R9 million.

Stern was born to German Jewish parents and she shuttled between Africa and Europe. At some point her work was considered controversial by critics due to the choice of subject matter and the fact that the South African art scene had not developed.

Child abuse on the increase, government says.

Photo:Mujahid Safodien

In Gauteng alone more than 3000 children have been registered under the Child Protection Register (CPR) since the start of the year. In a written reply to a parliamentary question, Social development minister, Bathabile Dlamini said, “The specified categories of abuse in which the names appear in the CPR are sexual abuse, emotional abuse and deliberate neglect.”

The Western Cape had the highest number of children found to be deliberately neglected, at 2522 and had listed 1751 sexual abuse victims in the CPR. The Children’s Act of 2005 (Act No. 38 of 2005) sets out principles relating to the care and protection of children and defines parental responsibilities and rights among other things. Despite having such policies in place, the country’s children still fall victim to different kinds of abuse on a daily basis.

This has been confirmed to by Childline, a non-profit organization that works to protect children from all forms of violence. Speaking during the commemoration of child protection week recently, Joan van Niekerk, Childline’s national training and advocacy manager said “Although there are a lot of programmes, some of these programmes end up exploiting the exploited”.

Van Niekerk was adamant that some of these campaigns are used by government as a political platform. Her immediate example was the 16 Days of Activism Campaign. “Often the only benefit to women and children is that they might get a cap or a t-shirt at the event. It begins and ends there. They might be a good platform for politicians to win votes, but all these flag-waving and t-shirt wearing events are not effective – what do they achieve for women and children?” she asked.

Van Niekerk also pointed out that South Africa has been running these campaigns for years, but that levels of violence have in fact risen and that this should be a matter of grave concern. For Joan, campaigns need to move beyond comforting words and soothing slogans – they have to be backed up by some substantial action.

The effects of child abuse


Fine art and good coffee (soon)

Wits Art Museum at night Pic: Wits Art Museum

After a decade of planning and years under construction, the multi-million rand Wits Art Museum has opened its doors to the public offering access to the university’s rich African art collection, but sadly it does not yet represent the welcoming space conceived by the architects and Wits.

The art museum’s double volume glass windows and doors which open onto the bustling corner of Jorissen and Bertha streets were meant to symbolise a close interaction between the university and the wider Braamfontein community, but for now the building’s sleek architectural lines and concrete finishes simply highlight the vacant dead zone where a coffee shop should be.

Several hundred thousand rands worth of shiny new shop fittings and top-of-the-range equipment stands unused in the lofty foyer, awaiting the awarding of the contract to grind and serve the coffee.

The unused kitchen and coffee machine   Pic: B. Read

The shop fittings, including a scullery area, cold storage, oven and high-end coffee machine, have been provided by the Wits Services department which is managing the tender process.

The initial idea was to seek tenders for an operator that could run a number of outlets on campus from a centralised kitchen, but there were no suitable takers so a second closed tender process for a unique coffee shop for the museum foyer is now underway.

While the decision will be made within weeks, it will likely be months before frothy cappuccinos and light lunches are served up – mid-August at the earliest.

But after the care and expense to redevelop the iconic Lawsons building to showcase the university’s extensive African art collection, every care is being taken to secure the right coffee shop operator to fit the vision of the art museum.

“We want a slick, fabulous coffee shop befitting of a world class gallery,” says Wits Art Museum special projects curator Fiona Rankin-Smith.

Even details like the choice of tables and chairs call for design approval from the architects Nina Cohen and Fiona Garson to be mindful of the space and consistent with the architecture of the museum.

According to Rankin-Smith there are plans to allow for a public space at the far corner of the coffee shop area, where a ramp offers access from the road.

“We want to keep that as an engaging space, where we can host site-specific installations, poetry recitals or performances. We want to activate that space, make it a truly public space.”

But for Rankin-Smith it’s not all about aesthetics – the key to the success of the coffee shop is the quality of the coffee.

“It’s actually all about the coffee,” says Rankin-Smith. “It has to be really good coffee, roasted, ground and brewed just before serving.”


South Africans tight-lipped about taboo subjects

Just a month after the South African government started releasing inmates due to the presidential pardon two months ago, at least 43 are back in jail.

A report distributed yesterday, June 12, by SAPA quoted the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) saying it was already in custody of a fraction of the former inmates it began releasing in “controllable groups” on May 14.

A policeman searches suspects in Hillbrow. PICTURE: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters/Sidney Morning Herald

The government plans to release up to 35,000 inmates this year as part of a special remission announced by President Zuma during Freedom Day celebrations on April 27.

The government said part of the reason for releasing the inmates was to decongest the country’s prisons, while other reports said it was to mark Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela winning South Africa’s first all-race elections in 1994.

Spotlight on crime

While the DCS did not reveal the number of prisoners released within the first month, the fact that at least 43 of the former inmates have already been re-arrested once casts the spotlight on the crime situation in the country.

Studies on the crime rate in South Africa show it has dropped marginally from a time when the country had the highest per capita rates of murder and rape, the second highest rate of robbery and violent theft and the fourth highest rates of serious assault and sexual offences among the 110 whose crime levels are tracked by Interpol. However, the crime rates remain high.

South Africa's crime statistics ahead of the 2010 World Cup. IMAGE by Japan Probe

So numerous are crime incidences even today that criminality seems to have become a part of the daily routine. Today, only the most outrageous of crimes reach the table of national discourse.

Outrage over rape

In April, when a video surfaced of the gang rape of a Soweto teenager, it was widely condemned due to the despicable nature of not just the multiple rapes of the mentally-illvictim, but of the fact that the rapists had the audacity to record and circulate a video of their actions.

The chief executive of Proudly South Africa, Leslie Sedibe, asked a poignant question, “What have we become when children rape children and we as fellow South Africans stand by and watch something so evil, cruel, callous and inhumane? Even watching such a video after the fact is atrocious and abominable.”

Yet crime is not the only social issue that the country seems not to have opted to face head-on and eliminate. Several others continue to blight the national conscience but seem to have been swept under the carpet.

Racism clouds debate

Early this year, the Democratic Alliance Student Organisation (DASO) published several posters of semi-naked couples in embrace, with the words beside them reading, “In our future, you wouldn’t look twice”. The pictures caused a storm merely because they depicted a white and black couple.

One of the controversial DASO images

With many people not eager to discuss racism, debate on many significant issues in the country is often derailed by claims of racism, as happened when the ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe described “The Spear” art-piece by Brett Murray as racist.
That label forced Murray to defend himself in an affidavit against accusations of racism, galvanised followers of the ANC into demonstrations that were interpreted as a form of bullying, and diverted the national conversation from the issues to a subject few people are really comfortable talking about.

Silence on HIV/AIDS

Similarly, South Africa has failed to curb the spread of the HIV/AIDS virus because of a deep-seated fear to confront the issue and peel off the layers of secrecy enveloping it.

More than five years after the first president of independent South Africa Nelson Mandela first revealed that his son Makgatho died of AIDS, and more than a decade after Judge Edwin Cameron announced his status, the stigma surrounding those who suffer from AIDS remains so high that the family of a famous footballer, Thabang Lebese, initially tried to hide the cause of his death even though he’d wanted it to be known.

By sweeping many of these taboo subjects under the carpet, South Africa is likely to be prolonging public discussion on problems that can only be overcome when the nation confronts them and seeks solutions in the open.



Nandos advert banned because of insensitivity to Xenophobia

Fast-food chain Nandos is contesting the ban on its advert that the SABC deemed to have a “xenophobic undertone”.

The advert starts with the line “You know what is wrong with South Africa? It’s all you foreigners”. The advert then depicts the broad span of ethnic groups that live in South Africa disappearing in puffs of smoke, leaving only a Koi San man, who then says to the camera, “I’m not going anywhere. You *@!$ found us here.”

The follow up is “real South African’s love diversity”, with a promotion of a new meal package.

The SABC refused to run the ad due it its “xenophobic undertones”. Spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago told Business Day, “By the time they get to the diversity message, people could have interpreted it in any which way.”

“With foreigners being attacked in South Africa, our concern is that it might re-enforce that … We are in no way interested in commercial gain over the public’s interest,” Kganyago said.

e-TV and DSTV, who had initially aired the ads, then followed suit and also stopped airing the ad.

Nando’s marketing manager Thabang Ramogase believes the response on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook has confirmed that the majority of South Africans had enjoyed the satire and understood the message of the ad.

“I’m puzzled by how the media owners have actually banned the commercial, they’ve completely misunderstood it, and I’m incredibly disappointed because I think it says a lot about freedom of speech and freedom of expression in South Africa,” said Quinton Cronje, Nandos’ marketing director.

The Advertising Standards Authority will deal with the dispute, however all broadcasters do have the right to not air advertisements if they chose, on the grounds of taste. An ASA stamp of approval may not be enough to get the commercial back on air.

Nandos marketing team is supposedly already formulating a come-back advert to make light of the banning.

Nandos has a used comical advertising which pushes on South African issues, and has received bans before. Most recently, Nandos ran an advert in which a Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe look-alike sat alone at a large dinner table, remembering the “good old days”, with scenes depicting him having fun with other famous dictators who are now deceased.

View “Nandos Diversity” and “The Last Dictator Standing”




Medics given legal advice

“The last thing you need is to have an accusation of rape against you for putting a speculum in.”

This was according to Dr Liz Meyer, Medical Protection Society (MPS) consultant, in her lecture titled Medical Legal Issues Relating To Surgery, organized by the Wits Students’ Surgical Society.

Meyer said sexual assault and substance abuse were the main reasons why medical students were dismissed from the Health Professionals Council of South Africa (HPCSA).

“You don’t get erased very easily, but if you do, it’s also very difficult to get back.”

Some records taken from doctors' notes in Mpumalanga hospitals.

Doctors don’t always know best

Meyer said the mindset in the medical profession has changed over time to pay more attention to patients’ rights, autonomy and expectations.

Doctors have faced court charges in the past for not tailor-making consent specifically to patients. She said patients must be made to understand the “material risk” of the procedures they may face.

“If you are considering an amputation, a ballet dancer is going to feel different about what is relevant to her in consent, than to a person that is already bound in a wheelchair.”

Etienne Raffner, 5th year medical student and co-founder of the surgical students’ society, said students were taught about consent before anything else in their degree.

"No, no no, nurse! I said slip off his spectacles!"

Communication is key

Meyer said registration with the HPCSA is a responsibility to conform to its ethical code, and doctors must not be afraid to name and shame negligent colleagues.

“If there’s somebody whose actions and work causes you concern, you must do something about it or otherwise, you are going to have problems.”

Meyer said it is important for doctors to share information clearly, especially where there is a language or experience gap. Clinical notes could be used in court, and it can be “very embarrassing” if not written properly according to Meyer.

Medical indemnity is big business

The MPS, which provides legal support to its members and compensates harmed patients, paid out R800m in claims last year.

Membership fees range from R100 a year for interns, to R220 000 a year for gynecologists, because they are considered “high risk”.

Prof Martin Veller, head of the Wits department of surgery, said it was “silly” for students to go into the profession without indemnity, regardless of the cost. Veller said he pays R80 000 a year on medical indemnity insurance.

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