Big companies shun Humanities Careers Expo

by Charlotte Chipangura

The annual Humanities Careers Expo was shunned by major companies after only two organisations showed up for the event on August 29.

Thabang Madileng  of the Counselling and Careers Development Unit (CCDU), which organised the event, said 13 different companies had booked for the expo but had simply not turned up. Only Robert Bosch indicated that they would not be able to attend.

“This year we tried to make it diverse by inviting employers from  non-governmental organisations, government and the private sector. We think they did not come because we did not attach a fee to the expo,” explained Madileng.

Humanities students felt let down and disappointed by the no-show. BA Honours (Media) student, Lethabo Malatsz said she was “not happy”.

“Im feeling discouraged, I’m having second thoughts. I’m thinking I wasted my time doing humanities. I’m doing my post grad now and was hoping I would find companies offering bursaries. I thought I would see YFM, SABC and News24 here. IT, Accounting, Commerce and Chemistry career expos had major turnouts.”

Madileng said there would be another general expo this year but not another one exclusively for the Humanities. Responding to questions about the poor response, Madileng said: “It’s a big concern. We market for all students but just struggle to find employers for our humanities students. Some companies have specifications, like engineers and accountants.

“Consulting companies usually take students from humanities but it’s mostly students who do Industrial Psychology or other programmes that are industry specific.”

Vega contact navigator, Palesa Mofokeng said the university should target companies that best benefit the students and invite those.

“It’s not that there is no demand for humanities students. It is just poor planning.  If companies are made to pay R500 to book their spots here, trust me they would be here because people always turn up when they are made to pay.”

Vega came to Wits to recruit post graduate students for the programmes the college offers. The second organisation that attended was the Avril Elizabeth Home for the intellectually disabled, represented by Linda Spangenberg and Jenny Ford. Spangenberg said the home was looking for volunteers to do their accounts as well as physiotherapists to assist the physically handicapped.

Horny Bucks pin down Limpopo

The Wits Horny Bucks won their basketball match by a large margin against the University of Limpopo (ULM) last Sunday at Hall 29.

The fulltime score was 107-22 to the Wits first team.

The first quarter began on a good note for the Horny Bucks with a 22-point lead.

The main scorers for most of the hour were power forward, Jonathan Van der Bijl, centre Rodney Genga and small forward Clint Koch.

ULM were sloppy in handling the ball and made continuous travelling errors. This resulted in many successful free throws by the Bucks. Van der Bijl wowed the crowd with three successive dunks bringing the score to 64-10 in the third quarter.

Wits were faster than their opponents from the start and settled on an early lead. The same pattern was seen throughout the rest of the game.

The score was 77-16 to Wits by the third quarter thanks to good plays by the Bucks led by Van der Bijl. Despite their 61-point lead, the speed of the Wits play showed they were no less determined to finish off ULM.

In the fourth quarter, ULM only increased their score by two points to bring it to 83-18.

Koch dominated the remainder of the game, stealing the ball and getting rebounds to make successful scores.

With four minutes left of the game there was no hope for a miraculous turnaround from ULM because of the 80 point difference in scores.

The match was the first game in the Gauteng University Basketball League (GUBL) this year. The Bucks’ game with Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) was cancelled due to the unrest on their campus. Their next game is yet to be announced.

“[The game] was good for the confidence of the team. We got the chance try out a lot of different plays and different sets that we don’t usually get to run when we play bigger teams like UJ and UP,” said Bucks acting captain, Rodney Genga.

The Horny Bucks came fourth in the University Sports South Africa (USSA) basketball tournament held in Port Elizabeth earlier this year. Genga was awarded the All Star player award for his spirited performance.

Ex-Witsie dies in motorbike accident

Nazeer-Ahmed Ballim, a prominent ex-Witsie, died on August 25 after a motorcycle accident.

Ballim matriculated from St John’s in 2004, served on the SRC in 2006 and was a member of the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA).

Nazeer left Wits to study Information Technology and worked for Oracle, an online financing system that Wits uses.

Fatima Mukkadam, head of the MSA and SRC member, said, “The legacy he leaves behind is one of love, happiness and kindness. A gentleman, loved by his family, peers and colleagues.

Mukkadam said the SRC, MSA and the Wits community would like to offer their condolences to the Ballim family. “It’s always difficult for the people left behind. We pray that Allah Ta’ala (God) helps his family and loved ones through this difficult time and that Nazeer reaches the highest stage in Jannah (Paradise), Aameen.”

His uncle, Deputy Vice Chancellor Yunus Ballim said that, in Nazeer’s short time at Wits, he had touched many lives through his passion for the community. “His death has been a blow to young and old in our family and he is sorely missed.”

Congratulations, it’s a scam!

A Witsie was conned into buying R180  airtime which was meant to activate her ticket to win thousands of rands.

A week after she registered her new SIM-card, she received an SMS saying she had won money from Rica.

“Congratulations! Your number won R250.000 from Nokia-Rica promotions. Ticket no 0166,” read the SMS.

Excitedly she called the number to claim her prize. A man asked her to transfer the airtime to his number to “activate the ticket”. After hours of waiting she called but the cell phone was off.

“I feel so stupid and embarrassed, I guess it’s the love of money,” said the first year engineering student who asked not to be named.

She said she did not want to open a case but she had learnt her lesson.

MTN telephone operator, Zoliswa Nojilana, confirmed the number was registered but said the service provider could not trace the owner or where the airtime voucher was used.

“It’s a scam and the only way to find out is through the police,” said Nojilana.

Warrant Officer Maleka Chauke, from the Hillbrow police station, said the student could open a case of theft under false pretences but it would be difficult to trace the suspect.

“The suspect is unknown, that’s why it’s hard but we can’t investigate if there is no case,” said Chauke.

Wits Vuvuzela called the number from the university. The call was answered by a man who asked where the call was from. He then quickly said he couldn’t accept private numbers.

“We don’t have an office number, give me your numbers,” said the man.

A few hours later this  student received another SMS which said the number had won R120, 000.

“It’s unclear how they get the numbers but customers must be cautious of such texts. Our competitions are advertised everywhere so people would know,” said Nojilana.

Health workers with attitude

A GAY man who went for a routine HIV test in the Johannesburg CBD was told by a doctor to remember “Sodom and Gomorrah” and that “the mouth is meant for eating only”.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the man shared his story in a group discussion at a health cafe at Wits recently. The health café was held to educate media practitioners on writing correctly about issues surrounding HIV. 

“I don’t know the name of the clinic but it’s in the Johannesburg CBD inside Carlton Centre,” the man said. While waiting for the results, he asked the doctor about the risks of contracting HIV through oral sex.

“He [the doctor] giggled and asked if I was a Christian. I said yes and that I believed in God. And then he said that I would remember then what happened in Sodom and Gomorrah. I was shocked. He told me that people back then were behaving like that. That’s why God burnt the town. He told me that the mouth is meant for eating only. I was totally taken aback by this.”

During the discussions, journalists from different media houses mentioned that they were reluctant to get tested because of the “bad attitude” displayed by nurses and doctors in conducting tests.

Another journalist,  who identified himself only as Thabo, said he had also gone to a clinic for an HIV test and the nurse on duty passed a snide remark, suggesting that he had come for a test because he had been having unprotected sex.

“She then asked me to take out my penis so that she could see if there was evidence of a disease.  She looked at it and told me that I was fine.”

Some women in the group complained they had been subjected to HIV tests without their consent while pregnant.

Dr Sindi Van Zyl, who specialises in HIV with Anova, encouraged patients to know their rights in the face of violation by medical personnel and overcome all barriers by getting tested for HIV. She said “angry nurses” intimidated men from clinics, but they should just go and get tested anyway.

Van Zyl added that foreigners should be able to access anti-retroviral drugs. A memo was passed in 2008 to this effect.

Melissa Meyer, HIV and AIDS media project manager with Anova, said patients should not just accept bad treatment from nurses and doctors.  “The same way you go to a restaurant and say: ‘This is not what I ordered,’ is the same way you should react when you get bad service at clinics.”

The HIV and AIDS Act of 2006 stipulates that “an HIV test on another person shall not be undertaken, except with the informed consent of the other person”.

Still no hot water at Norvic

Norvic students claim management has gone deaf to their complaints about a lack of hot water. Image by: Zinhle Tshabalala

WITSIES staying at South Point (Norvic) say they are being ripped off because they hardly ever have hot water.
BA student Anna Tladi said there was no hot water at all on the morning of Wednesday August 29. She said they complained about the problem to the building manager, but he told them to report the matter to the security guard and write the complaint in the log book.
Tladi said the security guard told them not to write the complaint down because someone else had already noted it. At other times, she said he told them the problem was in the process of being fixed.
The building manager, who would only give his name as Trust, disputed this. He said students did not tell him about the lack of hot water. “How are we supposed to know about this problem if they don’t tell us?”
“I stay here at the Norvic building and I have my own geyser upstairs and the water is hot 24/7. So how am I supposed to know that students don’t have hot water?”
The security guard claimed students only started writing in the log book after they threatened to go on strike and take their complaint to the head office at South Point Central. He told them they would need proof that they had complained and nothing had been done, he said.
The building manager said only one student had complained about the water. He and the security guard showed Wits Vuvuzela the log book, where two written complaints had been entered during the past two months.
One complaint read: “The problem is that when we wake up before 7am there is no hot water. It only begins to heat up later. This is unacceptable because it’s winter.”
According to Tladi the students had a meeting about the problem and asked: “How many times must we write in the book in order for the problem to be fixed?”
When she had class at 8am, she woke at 1am to bath with hot water. “Between 1am and 4am the water is hot, but from 5am it’s lukewarm, but after 6am the water is cold.”
Kabelo Makgala, projects and facilities manager said he was aware of the problem. However, he said the students were exaggerating the issue. The problem was a common household issue.
He said the geysers at South Point carried about 4000 to 8000 litres of water, which took up to three hours to heat up. He explained that, if 300 students showered at the same time, the hot water would be depleted. A heat pump had been installed to assist the geyser to heat up the water all day.
Earlier this year Wits Vuvuzela reported that students at Diamond House were complaining about the lack of hot water or no water at all. Last year there was a water shortage at three South Point buildings in Braamfontein.

Published in Wits Vuvuzela 22th edition, 31 August 2012

The grace of friendship

During a spring cleaning fit last week, I discovered an old photograph of myself and two of my oldest friends. We were six and sported Minnie Mouse and Donald Duck outfits  – with hairstyles that would make a hairdresser cry.

That photograph got me thinking about all the crazy things I went through with my friends. As kids, we made up games and gave them names like Sally Broke Her Leg and Guess Guess. In our teens, we fell off staircase railings and drank coke through four straws. A few years on, we sat on the roofs of Wits buildings talking about life, love and everything. Looking back now, it seems a lifetime ago, but memories like that never fade.

Over time, though, those daily activities became smses, which turned into occasional emails, and they turned, eventually, into silence.

My mom always said you can choose your friends, but you alone choose how long they stay in your life.  Having let a dear friend of mine fade from my life completely recently, I now understand what she meant.

He was one of the friends who will forever be stuck in my memory. One of our biggest jokes was about his writing a book about his life at Wits. He wanted to dedicate it to our old history professor, who called all the girls in the class “Sir”.

He got me addicted to sport, however I supported Arsenal and he Manchester United. The benches outside the William Cullen library was where you could find us. If those benches could tell their stories they would fill the pages of two novels.

A silly misunderstanding between us led to a four year friendship ending.  He thought I was the kind of person who took friendship for granted; that I would attract fake friends who would tell me I looked  great even though I had a piece of toilet paper stuck to my shoe.

It’s sad because I did appreciate him. He was a one of those rare friends who provided a shoulder to cry on even when he needed one himself. The bond true friends share is something that develops over time but can be lost in the blink of an eye.

Life is difficult, but friends make it seem conquerable.  So cherish every hug, every joke and every afternoon spent sitting on a bench. As my mom would say, a man with two genuine friends is richer than a man with R10-million in the bank.

Published in Wits Vuvuzela 22nd Edition, August 31

Mistaken overdose at David Webster

A Res student representative has accused the Wits counselling unit of failing “students in crisis” following another suicide attempt at David Webster Hall this week.

A David Webster Hall resident overdosed on antidepressant pills in what friends said was an attempted suicide on Sunday evening, August 26.

Hall coordinator Prof Tumai Murombo said he received an alarming message from one of the student’s friends.

The student was transported to Milpark Hospital by Campus Control within an hour, according to investigations manager, Michael Mahada.

“The information recorded in an Occurence Book shows that CB1 made an entry at 19h39 about it and they again made a cross reference at 20h31 to effect that the sick student had been transported to Milpark Hospital.”

Mahada said Campus Control does not have the qualifications or personnel to run an ambulance service, but will call an ambulance if asked to.

Chairperson of David Webster Hall, Godfrey Dlamini, said the student refused to be admitted.

Dlamini, said this was one of about five attempted suicides at David Webster this year. In some cases, the same students have tried to kill themselves more than once.

Dlamini and the hall coordinators have had to chase suicidal students across the car park, trying to calm them down.

“Career Counselling and Development Unit (CCDU) promised to address a tailor-made workshop for the David Webster students last semester but up to now have not delivered. As psychological experts in the university, the CCDU has failed students in crisis,” said Dlamini.

Murombo said the reasons for attempting suicide went beyond academic difficulties and involved social difficulties as well.

Murombo also said the CCDU’s approach of treating students on a voluntary basis was failing because it is impersonal and technical.

“Students don’t want to be treated like patients, they feel alienated. The current counselling system is too formal and technical.

The CCDU needs to initiate therapy that takes the form of a social conversation. It’s a more effective way of picking up student issues before they get out of hand,” he said.

In response to David Webster, Toinette Bradley, therapy team leader of the CCDU, said that David Webster should follow up their request for a therapy workshop before exams arrived.

Bradley said they had received the case of a mistaken overdose and were in the process of addressing it.

“We cannot force anybody to come in and see us but we do try to get their family and friends to convince them to seek treatment with us,” she said.


Co-written with Akinoluwa Oyedele

Published in Wits Vuvuzela 22nd edition, 31st August 2012.


Barbarians take Steinhoff cup

The Steinhoff Commerce team, known as Barbarians, took home the Steinhoff Interfaculty Cup at the Wits Rugby stadium on Wednesday evening August 29. The Barbarians worked their way up to win with a final score of 36-24.

The Steinhoff Humanities team, the Titans, dominated the early minutes of the game after kick off at 8pm.  The first try was scored by outside centre, Simon Purchase, after the Titans forced a five metre scrum.

The Barbarians came back with their first try. Full back, Wesley Flannigan, scored after he ran straight for the corner. Flannigan was an asset to the Barbarians with his experience as a Wits first team player.

The rest of the first half was dominated by the Titans making mistakes and the Barbarians taking advantage during the rucks.  The Barbarians escalated the pace when the half was drawing to a close and fly half, Craig Korarik, scored a try and converted with a clean kick.

The second half was very physical and Barbarians number eight, Mousa Sayegh, scored a try which Korarik converted. The game continued with the Barbarians doing all the running and making play happen every time they got the ball.

The Barbarians celebrated wildly when they were handed the Steinhoff trophy. The prize giving saw Flannigan get man of the match and a R300 prize.

Wits students do not TOP numbers

Although legal abortion statistics in South Africa have gone up, a campus nurse says the numbers of students who opt to go for abortions have gone down over the last five years.

Last week Monday health minister, Aaron Mostoaledi, released statistics showing a 31 % increase from 2010’s 59,447 to 77,771.

The three provinces which ranked highest were the Free State, North-West province and Gauteng.

During 2011 there were 21, 944 abortions carried out in the Free State, followed by 12,138 in the North-West and 11,239 in Gauteng.

According to a paper by Lynette Vermaas, a researcher from the Student Development and Support (SDS) at Tswhane University of Technology (TUT), student pregnancies at tertiary institutions worldwide are increasing every year despite the assumption that students have sufficient knowledge of the risks of unprotected sex.

Campus Health and Careers Counselling and Development Unit (CCDU) work together in assisting female students make informed decisions about termination of pregnancy (TOP).

Sister Maggy Moloi, a nurse at Campus Health, said the clinic advocates for “family planning education, especially to first years [students] during Orientation Week.”

She mentioned the clinic does not, carry out abortions because it offers primary healthcare which includes services such as family planning and treatment of STIs and HIV testing.

CCDU psychologist Toinette Bradley said: “We do work with Campus Health but students wanting ToPs are usually referred to clinics and hospitals.”

Moloi said Campus Health refers students to the Marie Stopes near Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto because it’s much more affordable than the one in Ghandi Square.

When asked whether students use termination of pregnancy as a contraceptive measure she said: “Most of the students access contraceptives from the clinic. They do know about the service.”

However, she believes that generally young women do not access contraceptives from clinics because they are not educated about the different types of contraceptive measures available.

Moloi said the problem is fuelled by misconstrued information about the effects that birth control pills have on their bodies. Young women don’t communicate with their parents about sexual matters because they are considered as taboo in some families.

Although the statistics referred only to legal abortions, Sister Moloi said the biggest problem faced was that people still go for backstreet abortions and “some end up with infections or even worse, they end up dead”.

An example of this was the death of University of Johannesburg (UJ) student, Ayanda Masondo (20) earlier this year. Masondo was found dead in her residence room from what was reported to be a botched illegal abortion.

Campus Health’s relationship with CCDU helps with the possible emotional consequences of abortion.

“Those students who come back frustrated and depressed because of the abortion, then we refer them there for further counselling,” said Moloi.

She believes the clinic used to have “a huge number of students coming in for assistance for abortions but compared to five years ago to now, the numbers are very low”.


Published in Vuvuzela 22nd edition,31 August 2012

In it for health, not money

Wits researchers have found that participants in drug trials may be genuinely concerned about their health, rather than taking part just for the promise of payment.

Until now, researchers have raised concerns that participation in clinical trials related to HIV may be mainly motivated by compensation, or that women in these studies would abuse reimbursements, share drugs with other people or dump the drugs.

But according to a study published by researchers at the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute last week, none of these concerns was found to be true after interviewing women who took part in such a trial.

The women were positive for HIV and Herpes Simplex Virus 2, both sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The risk of spreading HIV is three times higher when a person is infected with both viruses. The women had participated in a trial which tested how efficient an anti-herpes drug was at reducing the risk of spreading HIV.

The women were asked how well they kept to the rules of the trial and what motivated them to do so. For a clinical trial to work, participants have to visit the clinic regularly for medication and check-ups. They also have to take the drugs at certain times and change some of their behaviour. For example, they were required to use condoms and avoid vaginal douching.

The women followed these rules about 90% of the time, and they said they were motivated by concerns for their health. Co-author of the paper, Dr Catherine MacPhail, said this was significant because the health system was not perceived as adequate or user-friendly.

“The thing that made me decide to participate in the study was I started to see symptoms that I did not understand, like I had discharge and I was always sick so then I decided to go and find out about my status,” said one participant.

The women also welcomed the free health care that came with the trial, even though they knew some of the drugs were placebos, or sugar pills.

A major factor that encouraged women to visit the clinic regularly was staff support. “I think it [staff attitude] helped me because when I thought about coming to the clinic I knew that I am going to be laughing and talking to people who care about me and I loved to come to the clinic,” said another participant.

Researchers said the study also showed that people in low and middle-income countries, characterised by poverty and social deprivation, could be trusted to take medication as prescribed.

The paper was published in Dove Press, an open access medical journal. It was authored by Dr Catherine MacPhail and Dr Sinead Delany-Moretlwe from Wits, and Prof Philippe Mayaud from the Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.