Clever Boy ditches diski

Football - Absa Premiership 2011/12 - Bidvest Wits v Free State Stars - Bidvest Wits Stadium

Out With A Bang: Stanton Fredericks has retired from pro-football after helping Bidvest Wits to 4th place this season.                                                                                                     Photo: Provided

As of this week, you are more likely to find Stanton “Stiga” Fredericks on the lush greens of a golf course than on the soccer pitches of the Premier Soccer League where he made his name as a footballer.

The 34 year-old veteran and former Bidvest captain decided to retire from professional football on Tuesday, ending his career at the same club where it began.

For the sake of his handicap, Stiga’s fans will hope he approaches golf with the same kind of gritty determination and fierce competitiveness he showed throughout a career spanning almost two decades including stints playing in Switzerland, Greece and Moscow.

After making his professional debut for Wits in 1996, the west-Johannesburg born midfielder went on to play for the national under-23 team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and also earned 14 caps for Bafana Bafana.

Besides often being handed the mythical number 10 jersey at most of the clubs he represented, the playmaker is also part of an elite club in local football circles.

Fredericks has played for both Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.

And even though he did not move directly from one club to the other, he played for the teams at a time when the rivalry between the two, especially among their supporters, still bordered on violent proportions.

In interviews, Fredericks stated that a lack of game time with Bidvest this season made the decision to retire easier.

In the last two seasons combined, Fredericks has only started 4 league games for the Clever Boys, without scoring.  In comparison, he started 20 games in the 2010/2011 season, finding the net 4 times.

Fredericks will be remembered by football fans for his ability to “skin” an opponent, with the kind of inventive turn-of-skill that sent idiski purists into raptures.

He will also be remembered as a clean-living, dedicated footballer, a genuine role-model.

World No Tobacco Day



A meme is popularly defined as an “element of culture or behaviour that may be passed from one person to another by non-genetic means, especially imitation”.

The concept was coined by famous British scientist Richard Dawkins.

On Friday 31 May the World Health Organisation (WHO) celebrates World No Tobacco Day, warning that smoking kills up to 5.6 million people every year.

Our own national health minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, recently announced government plans to tighten South Africa’s already strict tobacco and smoking legislation, seeking to completely prohibit what he called the “familiar sight” of smokers gathering outside of buildings to “pollute the air around them”.

The minister seems to buy in to the idea of meme’s, even if unwittingly.

He has not only been consistently pushing for legislation that will prevent smoking in public, but also for a complete black-out on any form of marketing around tobacco products.

A maximum fine of R100 000 for smoking less than 10 meters from the entrance of a building is already in place, and the minister also hopes to emulate laws already enforced in Australia and New Zealand where cigarettes are sold only in plain, unbranded packaging.

The minister draws his thinking from the work of international behavioural scientists, whose studies have found that the less children and young adults observed people smoking and the less the habit was “glamorised” by fancy marketing, the fewer of these age-groups would start smoking.

Despite the minister’s and government’s determined campaign against tobacco products, South Africans continue to puff away.

Research has shown that 7.7 million South Africans smoke 11.4 cigarettes a day. In total, that amounts 29 billion cigarette sticks a year.

The figure, however, only covers the legal tobacco trade. The South African Revenue Services (SARS) claims it loses up R4.5 billion in tax revenue to illicit cigarette trade every year.

South African’s are really puffing away, and Wits Campus is no different. Smokers can be seen around campus huddled in intimate groups enjoying cigarettes, and more recently hookah pipes.

Pharmacology honours student Cassandra Geldenhuys said she had started smoking because both her parents were smokers and because it “looked decent”.

“There’s one road to your lungs, you might as well tar it,” Geldenhuys joked.

A fellow Pharmacology student, who asked not to be named in case her mother read the paper, said she stared smoking when she was 12 years-old.

“I really liked the look of smoking and I forced myself to do it,” she said.

She said she had heard about the new regulations, and had been threatened with a R1 500 fine while smoking outside a Wimpy by the manger.

She wondered why it was such big deal. “In movies in the 80s you would see everyone smoking”, she said.

Another Witsie, a 2nd year medical student, said he started smoking in high school for “social acceptance”.

That both smokers and those pushing for tougher laws against smoking seem to consider the habit something taken up through imitation, lends some credibility to the idea of smoking as “cultural meme”.

Related information:

World No Tobacco Day on Twitter

Taxi Poetry: A ride on the rhythms of fiction and beyond

Stubble bearded and  glass-eyed, dressed in army-green knit sweater and soil-brown slacks, author Imraan Coovadia cut a weary figure on Wednesday evening at WISER’s discussion of an initiative, to put poetry on Johannesburg taxi’s,  that sprung from Coovadia’s 2012 novel The Institute for Taxi Poetry.
But he steadily warmed to the occasion. And while the mercury dropped in Braamfontein’s solemn streets, the temperature inside WISER’s modern conference room climbed, as the concept of Taxi Poetry was “uncoiled in the ears” of the attentive, expectant audience.   The University of Cape Town creative writing professor was at the tail-end of his Joburg lecture tour and looked like he was courting exhaustion. Taxi Poetry

The WISER event was billed “From Fiction to Reality”, and sought to “present and explore the Taxi Poetry project that has resulted in poetry being written for and placed on 70 taxis in Johannesburg over the last few weeks.”

In Coovadia’s experimental book  unusual tales are told of poets and a form of poetry that emerges somewhere beneath the skin of Cape Town’s murky taxi industry –ruled and populated by some of the most imaginative and cosmopolitan characters to be found in South African literature.


Observer: Author Imraan Coovadia engaged with audience members after the event.                       Photo: Mfuneko Toyana

Director at WISER and collaborator on the project, Sarah Nuttall, spoke in her introduction of a “tradition of transportation poetry in South Africa that was mostly found in trains”.

It was this idea, and a meeting with Coovadia in Cape Town about the possibilities of his novel, that led to the conception of Taxi Poetry.

Nuttall then co-opted Wits fine arts lecturer Zen Marie, and media polyglot and poet Karabo Kgoleng, with the backing of the Goethe Institute, to build a project around the novel.

The result: a group of Johannesburg poets wrote pieces about Johannesburg; a line each from the poems was transposed on to large “fridge magnets”; and off the poets went into CBD to convince taxi drivers to display the poetry on their taxis.

“The idea of magnets came from realising that in Joburg taxi drivers don’t have the agency to intervene on the taxi,” explained Marie, who did research for the project by collaborating with a Durban taxi driver to produce a music video about his taxi- Big Boss.

The main difference, Marie said, was that “in Durban most drivers owned the taxi they drove, while in Joburg drivers worked for owners who owned large fleets [of taxis]”.

Kgoleng picked up the thread where Nuttall had left it, and spoke at length of poetic inspiration and its relationship to the “aspirational quality of Joburg”.

“Poetry is the medium which the personal can become public,” she said. “Coovadia has used his creative licence to characterise the poet as a player in the taxi area”.

And from this, the poets were able to take poetry and expression outside of the commercial realms and return it to the people.

When Coovadia addressed the audience, reading now and again from his smartphone, his energy was palpable.

With artful simplicity, he explained the complex process that his book both captured and unleashed. A concept that all the speakers on the night had alluded to, that of the fragmented associational patterns that emerged in small, overlooked pockets of our urban society.

“Novelists are like carthorses, and poets are grasshoppers”, he said describing how the process of writing the novel had pushed him into different areas of expression and working with others.

“You realise that social reform is possible precisely because of how human feeling can pass from one person to another,” Coovadia concluded.

Israel vs SRC

The SRC said they weren’t surprised the university was under financial pressure from Israel lobbyists not to drop the charges against 11students charged for disrupting the performance of an Israeli-born pianist.

“[The SRC] suggest our refusal to do so [drop the charges] emanates from the pressure from donors who support Israel. There have indeed been some individuals who have threatened to withdraw their donations,” said Habib and Nongxa on a Business Day article.

SRC secretary Tasneem  Essop said “It is easy to draw a link between the university refusing to drop the charges and the financial threats made from donors who support Israel”. She said the reason the charges were not dropped is because financial and political pressure from Israel lobbyists.

Eleven students, nine of which are SRC members, were charged with possible contravention of university rules after they protested at the performance during Israel Apartheid Week

“11 members of the Wits community allegedly violated university rules, impinged on the rights of others, broke up the concert and in effect violated academic freedom, we acted and subjected them to disciplinary hearings,” said Habib and Nongxa.

 Essop added that a day after the March 12 protest, at about, Habib and Nongxa released a statement distancing themselves from the student protest.

“They were in New York, they received threats from pro-Israel lobby,” said Essop.

She said the university chose to charge the 11 students but didn’t do anything when they were assaulted by members of security and were sworn at by people attending the Israeli-funded concert.

“We were called monkeys, savages, Muslim agitators. We were even told to ‘go back to the jungle where you belong’ but the university chose to charge the 11 students and did nothing [about the Israeli supporters],” said Essop.

Habib said they have not received any written complaint about the allegation: “If the SRC feels that this has happened, they should lay an official complaint and the matter will be investigated as per due process.”

Habib and Nongxa said Wits was neither a political party or a civil movement. “Wits has not taken a position to boycott Israel,” they said.

Mbuyiseni Ndlovu a PHD politics student who is one of the 11 students charged said the statement was nonsense:  “Israel implements systematic racial discrimination. We can’t be neutral in such a state. Wits took sides during Apartheid. Wits took sides with the Dalai Lama. They can’t claim this neutral nonsense.”

The disciplinary hearing against the 11 charged students has been postponed to July 16.

Wits puts Hunt on top

BIDVest Wits has reportedly made Gavin Hunt the highest paid coach in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) with a salary of almost a million rands.

Bidvest Wits announced on Tuesday  that Hunt signed on as The Clever Boys’ new coach and various reports indicated his salary would be R 750 000 per month with a signing-on fee of R10 million. Hunt replaces Clive Baker, who had been leading the team for five months. [pullquote align=”right”]”his salary would be R 750 000 per month with a signing-on fee of R10 million”[/pullquote]

 Bidvest Wits FC Chief Executive Officer, Jose Ferreira, said they were impressed with Hunt’s work, “not only with Supersport United but with every other club he has coached prior to that”.

Hunt is moving from Supersport United where he had been with for six years. During his time with Supersport he won three PSL championships and the coach of the year title three years in a row. Hunt is said to have signed a three year contract with the option to renew.

“We have signed a long term contract with him and we believe that, in line with our long term vision for the club, he is the right coach to lead the process that we have embarked on to transform our team into a consistently competitive force in South African football,” said Ferreira.

 Sindile Sibiya from the Bidvest football club said Hunt will probably start at the end of June.

Barker came back from retirement in January to help The Clever Boys, who were struggling. Ferreira thanked Baker for the “remarkable” work he had done over the last five months: “Clive will always be remembered as an important part of our initial efforts to turn things around at our club.”

 It has not yet been confirmed who will replace Hunt at Supersport United.

EXCLUSIVE: Tsepo wa Mamatu speaks

by Nokuthula Manyathi and Shandukani Mulaudzi

Tsepo wa Mamatu  Photo: Provided

Tsepo wa Mamatu
Photo: Provided

Tsepo wa Mamatu, senior drama lecturer suspended recently after sexual harassment allegations against him, has broken his silence and insists that he is “not interested in coming back to Wits”.

In an exclusive interview with Wits Vuvuzela, he said: “Coming back to Wits would seem like the easy way out.”

In March this year, The Sunday Times reported that, over a period of six years, more than 10 of wa Mamatu’s students claimed he had sexually harassed them.

He was accused of violating students during rehearsals, auditions and off campus and even raping one of his students. Following these allegations, the university placed him on “special leave”.

Speaking publicly for the first time since the allegations surfaced, wa Mamatu said the last three months had been painful and that coming back to the university was no longer an option.

“I felt quite wounded and I almost became depressed but you can’t victimise yourself,” said wa Mamatu.  For a good four weeks I was in a bad, bad, bad space,” he said. Wa Mamatu said the support he received from family, friends, colleagues and students helped him survive

Flood of support

“What made me strong was the thousands and thousands of messages I received in my Facebook account, sms’es and the calls I received from very, very influential people,” he said.  Wa Mamatu said one of his friends had compared this struggle with the strife experienced by Jesus. “They said, ‘Tshepo: Jesus was 33 years old when he went through the same thing – when he was humiliated publicly, when he was betrayed’.

“But they cannot crucify you without building you up.”

No chance from The Sunday Times

Wa Mamatu expressed his dissatisfaction with the manner in which the Sunday Times had handled the story.  According to wa Mamatu the reporter of story, Pearlie Joubert, contacted wa Mamatu on the day on which she was to submit his story which did not allow him time to respond fully to the allegations.
.“[pullquote]”Students would come needing a place to sleep. They would sleep in that office”[/pullquote] He explained that the telephonic interview had lasted less than two minutes and that he had tried to ask for an opportunity to meet with the reporter to give the context and his side of what happened.
“She said ‘no no, my deadline is 5 o’clock and I have to submit the story.’ Imagine?” said wa Mamatu.

Raising his voice, Wa Mamatu said that two weeks later the same reporter had “the nerve” to contact him to find out how he was doing after the publication of the story. “She called me she said: ‘So how are you feeling after that story was published?’ [laughs] And I gave her such a tongue lash. I don’t think anyone has ever spoken to that woman and she has never called me.”
Wa Mamatu also expressed concern in the fact that one of his accusers had initially told The Sunday Times that he had raped her but had since changed her charge against him to one of oral sex.

“Now she says it was oral sex. Now how do you go from rape to oral sex? Those are two distinctly different things,” wa Mamatu complained.

Admission: this was not the first time

Wa Mamatu confirmed that there was a case of sexual misconduct brought against him in 2007. The matter was taken to the Counselling and Careers Development Unit (CCDU) as the woman in question had accused him of “touching her pants in a very sexual way”.
[pullquote] Worked tirelessly to ensure the wellbeing of students [/pullquote] At that meeting both parties were given the opportunity to give their side of the story and the matter was settled. “It was a breakdown of communication and not some malicious intent to do her any harm or to cause her any discomfort whatsoever.
Wa Mamatu said although he had been given opportunities by other media publications to speak up, he had declined them, as he did not want to be seen as “this guy who is using his voice to overpower these women”.

An upbeat wa Mamatu said he held no grudges. He said he did not judge the way the university had handled the situation. “The university had to act, [especially] in a country where woman abuse is so rife … The university is in the middle and I’m not criticising the university, what they did was quite bold and daring.”

Since his suspension, wa Mamatu said he had an initial hearing with the university earlier this month but proceedings had been postponed to June pending further investigations. He said the Wits School of Arts (WSOA) had handled the situation as best as they could, considering the circumstances. He said that despite the allegations and his suspension from Wits he was still able to practice his craft.

Career still thriving

“At the moment I’m rehearsing a play at the state theatre, I have an opera at the Cape Town opera that’s opening in June. I’ve got a musical that’s coming up and I’ve just shot a documentary in the last three months with BBC and Aljazeera”.

Wa Mamatu said although his anger and resentment had subsided he was still very hurt by the allegations as they were untrue. He said he had worked tirelessly to ensure the wellbeing of students, which was his main priority both inside and outside the learning environment.

Spirit of Ubuntu?

Wa Mamatu explained that he is from a background where he was taught to share and as a result his office was a “student office”.

[pullquote align=”right”]I had given up my life for that place but in the end they dealt with me.[/pullquote]“Students would come needing a place to sleep. They would sleep in that office.Students would come and tell me that it’s January and ekhaya ngishoda nge [I am short of] R4000 to register or what what-what and I would hustle and make a plan for those students.” Wa Mamatu said his biggest fault was being too trusting and too generous.

“I had given up my life for that place but in the end they dealt with me.”




Closed. Back in…

NOTHING TO SEE:  The Friendly Supermarket at the Matrix looks set to remain closed. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

NOTHING TO SEE: The Friendly Supermarket at the Matrix looks set to remain closed. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

The friendly Supermarket in the Matrix has been visibly out of business for the past three weeks – with no stock or signs of trade in the shop.

 Shop closure

[pullquote]“Alles is deurmakaar [everything is in chaos].” .[/pullquote]Approached for an explanation, owner of the  franchise, Johan Mostert spoke candidly to Wits Vuvuzela about his problems, which he claimed resulted from an increase in rental.

However, he later retracted his statement and warned the reporter not to mention his name. He claimed information he had shared had already reached the landlord and it was now a legal matter.

Mostert said the lights at his shop had been turned off because he had defaulted on his rent payments for two months. This was a result of a rent increase, effective from March 1.

“Alles is deurmakaar [everything is in chaos].” He added that enough was enough.

Landlord Jackie Meyer of RFC Group could not be reached for comment after numerous attempts by Wits Vuvuzela.

Now what? 

Another Matrix shop owner, who asked to remain anonymous, said her shop had been extremely busy since the supermarket had closed down and she had been forced to bring in more stock.

She said she had heard rumours that rent had been the reason for the closure. “The rent here is very expensive. The rates are like those at a shopping centre.”

Shop owners explained that every shop at the Matrix pays different rates – calculated on the size of the shop. There was an increase of about 10% every year, a shop owner revealed. They are allowed 2 months free of rent during July and December, when the university broke for holidays.

Jackie Mung, owner of the Chinese Shop said:  “Everyone has to pay rent. Once you agree you must pay.”  Mung conceded that rent was expensive, but the Matrix was not a special case. Even if he moved somewhere else, he would have to pay rent and operational costs.

He said he was happy with the way he had been treated by management over the 10 years his shop had been operating.

Sexual lunch: No strings attached?

Eyebrows have been raised sky high in response to a lunch hosted by lawyers investigating sexual harassment charges at Wits.

Lawyers from Bowman Gilfillan invited a group of the harassment “victims” to an intimate lunch at Papa Vino’s in Rosebank last week – a move that many are saying is a little out of kilter with professional practice.

Email invitation 

The email invitation sent by Bowman Gilfillan said: “We thought it fitting to arrange a lunch for all students affected by sexual harassment at Wits where all of us can meet in an informal setting and provide support for one another.”
It was made clear they would not be asking any questions related to the various sexual harassment cases at the lunch.
The lunch by the firm might have been very innocent in its intent but the ethical implications need to be taken into account, according to some legal experts.

Ethical considerations
Dr Murray Wesson, lecturer at the School of Law, University of Western Sydney said the lunch was “in bad practice”.

“Lawyers should not confer with multiple witnesses at [pullquote]Lawyers should not confer with multiple witnesses at the same time about issues that may be contentious at a subsequent hearing.[/pullquote]the same time about issues that may be contentious at a subsequent hearing. The reason is that this may give rise to collusion or the appearance of collusion,” said Wesson.
Wesson said while the invitation states that people will not be interviewed at the lunch, it also says that students will be able to drive discussions with one another. His concerns are around the fact that in such a relaxed and informal setting, conversation could lead to the allegations of the various cases.

Wits Centre for Ethics director Professor Lucy Allias said she found the lunch “strange”. She added that she did not understand how the invitation could be considered appropriate.

She said: “It seems to me very strange to invite victims of a highly personal, potentially extremely traumatic kind of abuse to a joint social event.”

One of the students, or accusers, who was invited but did not attend said: “I don’t want to be with other victims, all of us sitting around and feeling sorry for ourselves.”

Wits Vuvuzela contacted Kirti Menon to get the University’s comment, she said: “I don’t think the venue is relevant and at this stage in the university investigations I would not like to comment further.”
Wits Vuvuzela had been told that the sexual harassment cases are currently being wrapped up and the final reports will be out by the end of the month.


Stranded students robbed

05_Robbery on buses

PUSH IT: Anxious students pushing to get a seat on the bus after new no standing rule. Photo by: Nokuthula Manyathi


By Nolwazi Mjwara and Nokuthula Manyathi

TWO  Esselen residents were robbed at a bus stop last week. This followed the new no standing rule on Wits buses.
The two women students were left stranded and standing at the bus stop as vulnerable targets for crime as the bus was full.

Wits All Residence Council informed Wits Vuvuzela that two students were robbed last week because of the no standing rule.

No standing

Wits services department has introduced the new no standing policy to bring the university’s buses in line with transport regulations.“The regulations were amended by the Department of Transport following the number of fatalities on buses in South Africa in 2012,” said Bus services operations manager Sue-Ann Reed.

[pullquote]Drivers have been informed not to permit standing passengers on the Wits Inter Campus buses[/pullquote]

“Drivers have been informed not to permit standing passengers on the Wits Inter Campus buses,” said Reed.
Reed also said students who are non-Wits junction residents were not permitted to take the direct Wits junction bus.

Students are unhappy
Layani Makwinja, 3rd year BA, who lives in an apartment near Wits Junction, said she was no longer allowed to enter Wits Junction to take the bus to main campus.
“This Wits Junction bus situation is so inconveniencing as we aren’t allowed to enter Junction to take the bus … Some students that I’ve been waiting with have missed lectures due to this,” said Makwinja.

Reed said Witsies would not be inconvenienced by these changes, in late 2012 two buses were added and this year a 65 seater bus and two 35 seater buses are now part of the bus routes. Students who live in apartments near Wits Junction have been designated their own ‘bus stop’ on Park Lane street, but some students are still not happy with this arrangement.

Reed said a project manager and two supervisors are on site to monitor the bus stops daily. “Should students have concerns, complaints are investigated to identify the problem and if necessary bus routes and timetables are amended to improve the service,” she said.

The bus services department has also received complaints concerning reckless driving and the lack of wearing seatbelts by the drivers.

One complaint on Twitter read: “Wits drivers shud revise the way they drive cz sum of em are reckless. ‘XLZ996 GP’ @ 11:45 bus to JCE! wasnt pleased.”

Management is looking into complaints

Reed said complaints lodged by students had been discussed with management. “I have advised Luxliner Management of the concern that has been raised by the students and they have confirmed that they have had a meeting with the drivers.

Part of the discussion included the wearing of safety belts which is compulsory.”

Fossil find brings widespread coverage

Dr Jonah Choiniere shows Wits Vuvuzela a piece from the Wits palaeoscience department collection  at Wits.

Dr Jonah Choiniere shows Wits Vuvuzela a piece from the Wits palaeoscience department collection at Wits. Photo: Nolwazi Mjwara

When Dr Jonah Choiniere moved to South Africa last year his colleagues thought he was crazy. It was shortly after the Marikana massacre and media coverage of the incident painted a grim picture of the country.

Now the Wits senior researcher has made world headlines with a dinosaur fossil discovery bringing global recognition and extensive media coverage valued at R2.7 million in PR value according to Wits Marketing.

Choiniere was part of a team of international researchers who found a new species of meat-eating dinosaur in north-western China.

Choiniere said the dinosaur lived over 161-million years ago, during the late Jurassic Period, and it was younger than one year old when it died.

The researcher almost didn’t find the dinosaur.

“I had been walking all over the fossil; my footprints were all over it. It was only after we had returned [from the site] to examine the fossil that we realised we had something new,” he said.

Choiniere and the team named the dinosaur Aorun zhaoi after a character in the Chinese story Journey to the west .

Choiniere moved to South Africa from New York City in November 2012. He said: “So many people were surprised that I wanted to move here. Even South Africans themselves are always surprised.”

He said he moved just after the Marikana incident. The US media had reported the event in a sensationalised way and this made people caution Choiniere about his decision.

“The US media had reported that there were fires all over Johannesburg during and after Marikana. When we got here we realised this was false,” he said.

He said he had fallen in love with South African things like Ultra Mel custard, braais, Emmarentia dam and the friendliness of South Africans.

The George Washington University graduate is a senior researcher at the Bernard Price Institute at Wits.

“Wits’ Palaeoscience department is one of the best in the world … and I am not just saying that. The collection here is impressive,” Choiniere said.

Choiniere recently returned from Elliot in the Eastern Cape where he was called in to dig out another dinosaur fossil.

The researcher said he wished South Africans knew how rich their country was in terms of dinosaur fossils.

“South Africans should really feel proud of what they have here. Your country is rich and special in many ways,” he said.



Outsourced but not outsmarted

Wits cleaners expressed their anger at a hundreds-strong gathering on campus this week, at what they see as devious outsourcing negotiations by the university.

Workers gathered outside the South West Engineering Building, chanting and singing against what they claim is the university’s sneaky process of outsourcing campus cleaning operations.

The university’s existing contracts with Supercare and Carovone cleaning services will come to an end in June. According to a conflict management report by Tokiso, a company contracted by the university after the cleaners claimed unfair treatment, the university had promised Supercare and Carovone cleaners they would all retain their jobs.

But the Wits Workers’ Solidarity Committee (WSC) says workers have been told they will be interviewed for the jobs – jobs they already have.

OUTWIT, OUTSMART, OUTSOURCE: Wits cleaning staff gathered outside the South West Engineering Building on Tuesday to protest against the university's sneaky outsourcing tactics.

OUTWIT, OUTSMART, OUTSOURCE: Wits cleaning staff gathered outside the South West Engineering Building on Tuesday to protest against the university’s sneaky outsourcing tactics.

The university contracted a new company, Impact Cleaning Services, to service main campus. And, according to cleaners approached by Wits Vuvuzela, the university’s recent tactics have not done much to improve worker confidence in Wits management.

Deputy Director of Operations at Wits Services, Nicki McGee, said: “WSC have handed a petition to university management yesterday. Management are in the process of responding and have until Thursday t0 do so.” The university’s response had not yet been released by the time Wits Vuvuzela went to press.

A Carovone cleaner at Sunnyside residence, who asked not to be named, said their bosses only called them on Tuesday telling them to take their IDs to work with them on Wednesday as they would be interviewed for the new contractor.

At the meeting, Supercare cleaner, Deliwe Mzobe, said: “Hundreds of workers on our campus, some of whom have worked here for two decades, do not know whether they will be employed at the university, in fact whether they will be employed at all, in exactly 33 days time.”

Mzobe presented their petition of demands to Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Operations) Professor Tawana Kupe, after the incoming Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Habib left without speaking.

DIE POPPE SAL DANS: Wits cleaners demand the university’s assurance that their jobs will remain safe.

DIE POPPE SAL DANS: Wits cleaners demand the university’s assurance that their jobs will remain safe.

The crowd raised their fists and yelled “Buwa”, as PhD student and member of the WSC, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, addressed them. He expressed disappointment at Habib’s failure to speak. “This is not the newsroom or the SABC where he talks a lot making political analyses. He must come here on the floor and explain why this university is so bad.”

Mighti: Wits is not the SRC’s Spaza Shop


THE MIGHTI LEADER: Jamie Mighti talks about his hopes for improved student-management relations. Photo: Prelene Singh

THE MIGHTI LEADER: Jamie Mighti talks about his hopes for improved student-management relations. Photo: Prelene Singh

INCOMING Vice Chancellor  Adam Habib has agreed to an open meeting between Witsies and management early next semester, to forge a connection between them and address student issues.

[pullquote align=”right”]“You have turned the university into your personal spaza shop and are holding us all at your mercy.”[/pullquote]

The meeting was suggested by Wits Debating Union’s president, Jamie Mighti, who criticised the SRC for failing to represent students adequately. The idea behind the town hall-style meeting is to give students a chance to speak directly to management, as “we’re losing touch with each other”.

He made the suggestion two weeks ago during an interview with Habib and Wits SRC secretary, Tasneem Essop on Talk Radio 702. The interview followed an open letter Mighti posted on social media. The letter went viral, getting over 960 “likes” and being shared by nearly 400 people on Facebook alone.

In his letter, Mighti said the SRC had “chosen to ignore the ‘R’ in SRC” and questioned some of the decisions made in previous months. He said the SRC, while not incompetent, had no vision, discipline or capacity to deal with students’ issues.

“I love many of the people on the SRC as individuals. They are great people and will do well in politics. But we have had enough of your politics at our expense. You have turned the university into your personal spaza shop and are holding us all at your mercy.”

He said he was worried the SRC was dividing students and “alienating” themselves (the SRC) from management. “We need collaboration versus confrontation with the university.”

Essop said while she could agree there had been a breakdown in communication between the SRC and students, it was unfair to suggest the SRC was not doing anything for them. “We’re just not good at advertising our success.

“It’s a fallacy that we don’t think of more immediate issues,” she said, responding to Mighti’s claim the SRC was more active in international activism than in tackling on-campus issues.

“We’re not trying to dispel student issues  … we’re putting suggestion boxes around campus. We also have an open-door policy.”

Essop said the SRC was happy to be part of the town hall meeting, and that it was in their diary.

Related links:

Wits Vuvuzela May 10, 2013 Petitions, protests and perplexity

Wits Vuvuzela May 17, 2013 The charges against the eleven will not be dropped

Wits Vuvuzela April 26, 2013 SRC accused want a public trial