Racism plagues UFS

Despite the appointment of its first black vice chancellor, the University of the Free State (UFS) still gets slammed with allegations of racism.

In 2009 when Professor Jonathan Jansen was appointed as the first black vice chancellor of UFS, hopes were high that this could be the change the university needed to fight back against racist claims. All facts point to Jansen having made in-roads, despite the slamming he is now receiving from the student movement.

Luzuko Buku, representative of the South African Students Congress (SASCO) said: “What Jansen has done since his arrival in the University of Free State is not to transform the university from its notorious racist conditions on black students but he has been working very hard to protect and cover up racism by sweeping such cases under the carpet.”

Covering up 

Last week it was alleged that two white UFS students, Kobus Muller and Charl Blom, tried to drive over a group of black pedestrians, side-swiping Dumane “Muzi” Gwedu, a fifth year BCom student. Gwedu then followed the car until it came to a stop where he approached the two drivers. This resulted in a violent attack on Gwedu.[pullquote] “The accused called the victims “kaffirs” and then drove off”[/pullquote]

A News24 article reported that Jansen had doubts about whether the incident was indeed racist, even though the accused called the victims “kaffirs” and then drove off.

During his inaugural speech in 2009, Jansen chose to forgive four white UFS students who, in 2008, filmed a video humiliating and degrading black campus workers. In his speech, Jansen dropped the case against these students and said, “They are my students. I cannot deny them any more than I can deny my own children.”

The move was controversial with some terming it a brave gesture of reconciliation and others warning it sent the wrong message to racists. Since the incident, Jansen has been blamed for adopting too reconciliatory an approach.

Racist reports 

Other incidents of alleged racism at UFS were reported in 2010 when a female student, Pinky Mokemane, was dragged next to a car driven by two white UFS students.[pullquote align=”right”]”Student accommodation for a ‘non-affirmative action’ female.”[/pullquote]

In January 2014, an advertisement appeared in a Bloemfontein newspaper, advertising student accommodation for a “non-affirmative action” female. The VC reacted by distancing himself and the university from the advert, which shows embedded racial profiling within the UFS community. He said:  “The varsity does not oversee private accommodation and it makes it difficult to regulate the ridiculous requirements they have of some students.”

Another ongoing example of racial profiling at UFS is their residence segregation. It appears that there are still many residences which give white students preference. With only 20% of UFS students being accommodated at the institution’s residences it is hard enough finding a spot if you’re white, let alone black.

UFS has its form of a transformation office too, the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice, an institute made for research and discussion among specialists, international students and politicians.

The general student body apparently can go to the Human Rights desk. This desk was not available for three days. The co-ordinator, Breggie Hofman Wits Vuvuzela was informed, was out of town and the second in charge “had a crisis”. Students will just have to save those reports of racism for later.

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A night out for R100

LOCAL HANGOUT: Kitchener's Carvery Bar at the corner of De Beer and Juta street is an old English style pub with a modern edge, within walking distance from Wits. Photo: Caro Malherbe

LOCAL HANGOUT: Kitchener’s Carvery Bar at the corner of De Beer and Juta street is an old English style pub with a modern edge, within walking distance from Wits. Photo: Caro Malherbe

Location, cost and reputation, what more could you ask for? The second oldest bar in Johannesburg, Kitchener’s Carvery Bar, is a golden oldie, right in the heart of Braamfontein, especially convenient for Witsies.

Looking like an old English pub, Kitchener’s will surprise you with its contemporary edge. The bar swings with live music performances ranging from indie rock and Afro beat DJs on Thursday and Friday nights.[pullquote]”Their menu has a little bit of everything”[/pullquote]

Their menu has a little bit of everything, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. According to the manager, the American Burger with a slice of cheese is the most ordered item on the menu, going for R48. The party-goers favourite would have to be the chip ’n dip which is a plate of slap chips covered in any sauce of your choice for R35 – great for lining the stomach before (or after ) a few too many beers.

The sauces you can chose from are mushroom, pepper, cheese, garlic, jalapeño, green pepper, Mexican, chakalaka or roquefort.

Depending on who you ask, the perceptions on prices vary, but the consensus seems to be that the meals are value for money, but that drinks prices on the other hand are on the steeper side of things.

Located on the corner of Juta and De Beer streets in Braamfontein, Kitchener’s endorses a local craft beer called Ace’s, a Mitchell’s Brewery lager. A pint of beer goes for R30 whilst a Black Label dumpie is R21. Spirits prices start from R14 a shot and a small can of coke is R14 as well.

On Saturdays, Kitchener’s fills up with Jozi locals and foreigners alike selling second-hand clothing and accessories in the court area. There are two bars and a carpeted dance floor that has been worn out from years of stomping and swaying.

What can R100 get you at Kitchener’s? An American burger with cheese for R48, an Ace’s draft and depending on which night you go, R20 cover charge for nights of performances. All of this adds up to R98.
 

OPINION: Joburg, my lover

I come from Cape Town, a city in South Africa, but really, its own little country.

The Republic of Cape Town moves to its own rhythm. It nonchalantly sways with the Atlantic tide and pumps to the beat of the south-eastern wind. It’s a giant film set, picturesque, landscaped and any other slushy adjective you can think of equivalent to a scene out of a Jane Austin novel.

I have always been one for change. I’ve moved around a lot in my life and am somewhat of a “yes man” when it comes to trying new things. When I was given the opportunity to study journalism at Wits University, I jumped on that bandwagon in a heartbeat. I knew nothing about Johannesburg at the time—this goes for almost all Capetonians.  But I like to think that after a year in the City of Gold I can make some comparisons.[pullquote]”I love being able to say that my home is in Cape Town despite many of the people there being so insular and set in their own ways.”[/pullquote]

What I love about Cape Town is that I can go from work to the beach. I love that the sun sets so late at night and that I can do more for less. I don’t have to spend much on travelling and the public transport is great. I love being able to say that my home is in Cape Town despite many of the people there being so insular and set in their own ways.[pullquote align=”right”]”For an aspiring journalist, I had to get off this one lane avenue and onto the highway.”[/pullquote]

Capetonians LOVE getting involved in any public petition such as, let’s say, bringing back doggy water bowls at the Corner Café because their Maltese poodle is so parched after a long walk on the promenade. Discussions on e-tolls or the upcoming elections don’t draw the same passion as a thirsty shitzu.

For an aspiring journalist, I had to get off this one lane avenue and onto the highway.

Moving to a city where I knew no one helped me focus on what I was trying to achieve. At first, I made my Joburg experience all about my studies. But it didn’t take long for me to realise that Jozi has so much to offer, and making my studies my first priority was going to be difficult.[pullquote]”There is a certain swag about this place, like a large thug smoking his cigar.”[/pullquote]

There is a certain swag about this place, like a large thug smoking his cigar. People don’t mess around here, they know what they want and where they are going and make no apologies for their ambitious spirit.

Compared to Cape Town, Joburg is a difficult city to live in. People talk fast and loud. They cash cheques, break necks and drive angry. Jozi hardened me up. It’s given me perspective and relinquished my need for everyday comforts and vanities – something Capetonians know far too much about.

I think there is something so magical in people believing that a place can bring them opportunity and that their dreams can come true. You can feel and see this in the people in Jozi.[pullquote]”Drenched in memories and history,Joburg makes me feel like anything is possible”[/pullquote]

I love the rawness and dirtiness of the Joburg city. It seems drenched in memories and history. Joburg makes me feel like anything is possible and that being here instantly connects me to the rest of the world and everyone in it.

Cape Town to me will always be the Mother Land, my mothers’ land. But Joburg is the man in my life who gives me butterflies and fireworks – my lover, who encourages me to be crazy, to push myself and to explore.

 

Dancing to the ballot box

JUJU JIVE: EFF supporters, as always, were in high spirits when they marched into Mehlareng Stadium on Saturday.  Buoyed by the manifesto launch and the party’s release of a music CD, they danced and danced.           Photo: Luke Matthews

JUJU JIVE: EFF supporters, as always, were in high spirits when they marched into Mehlareng Stadium on Saturday. Buoyed by the manifesto launch and the party’s release of a music CD, they danced and danced. Photo: Luke Matthews

 

 

THIS past weekend’s festival of political rallies, manifesto launches and street bashes in the name of democracy was proof of a well-known fact, that South African politics at its best is a study in ear-busting raucousness. The lengths political parties went to, to create a carnival atmosphere through song while talking serious politics at the same time, revealed once again just how central music is to our political DNA. [pullquote]Even those groups who contested SRC elections last year pin-pointed music as a route into the hearts of voters.[/pullquote]

On Saturday, Julius Malema’s red berets rode into Tembisa on a colossal wave of volume. Motorcycles with screaming engines, cars packing sound systems powerful enough to raise the dead, and an army of foot soldiers chanting non-stop the irreverent refrains that have become the Economic Freedom Fighter’s (EFF) trademark, raised the roof off Mehlareng stadium.

A few kilometres away, a version of the ruling party’s youth league refused to be outdone by the new kids and plotted a guerrilla offensive of groove by hosting what they called an “election festival”.

But without the gymnastic gyrations of Chomee and her team of dancers, the ANC’s get-together was a downer, drowned out by the EFF’s jamboree.

A day later, many kilometres north of Johannesburg in Polokwane the DA, blessed with less vocal supporters if Loyiso Gola’s Late Night News is to be believed, called on rapper AKA and pop-indie band Freshly Ground to add vibe to its campaign soiree. [pullquote align=”right”]“If you’re going to sing about political things what will you sing about? That you’re disappointed in what government is doing or that there is an alternative party you like better?”[/pullquote]

Even those groups who contested SRC elections last year pin-pointed music as a route into the hearts of voters. Project W promised Witsies an international act for O-week. They went on to win seven seats in their first attempt. DASO sang little and sank. While the PYA-led SRC has for years prided itself on being able to belt out rousing war cries, whether in celebration or defiance, at the drop of a hat.

Add to this landscape significant moments in our history that married politics and dancefloors in pursuit of liberation – the exile-based Amandla Cultural Ensemble of Oliver Tambo and trombonist Jonas Gwanga, Brenda Fassie’s iconic “My Black President”, and the National Party’s banning of Prophets of the City’s The Age of Truth album in 1993 – and music’s role in our political destiny becomes an undeniable fact.

Prof David Coplan, chair of Wits’ anthropology department and author of the remarkable book In the Township Tonight, chronicling the intersection of South African music and political cultures, said the political usefulness of music has changed and pop-struggle songs were not as popular as they once were.

“If you’re going to sing about political things what will you sing about? That you’re disappointed in what government is doing or that there is an alternative party you like better?” Coplan said.

The five songs currently topping VoW’s charts, as well as the charts of Rhodes, UCT, Tuks and UJ’s campus radio stations, are testimony to the decline in popularity of the pop-struggle genre, or at least its changing nature. Our politicians though, wittingly or not, seem aware of the powerful chemistry between music and politics.

Coplan’s take is that there exists a musical politics other than “saying down with this and up with that”.“There is a politics which gives people heart and doesn’t even have to have words. One of the big struggle songs was a jazz tune called Yakhal’ Inkomo by Winston Mankunku Ngozi.

“It had no words but people took it as an anthem of the township, about the desire to be free,” Coplan said. Our official anthem, Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrica, was conspicuous by its absence at all three of this weekend’s vote-baiting bonanzas, as it is at most political events.

[pullquote]“It had no words but people took it as an anthem of the township, about the desire to be free,” [/pullquote]

The national anthem, on the evidence, does not seem to be the rousing hymn-come-pop-struggle jingle to get a democracy fresh out of adolescence on its feet and dancing to the ballot box.

 

 

With Gallery: Crap storm over Esselen res

 

 

 

A SMELL of raw sewage tackles you the moment you step off the bus into Esselen street. On windy days, the sewage becomes airborne and sprays you with a misty combination of human urine and faeces . [pullquote align=”right”]“Last year someone from Florence building threw a plastic bag full of shit out their window and it landed in our laundry area”[/pullquote]

Complaints from students about the bad smell, stagnant sewage and uncollected waste piling up at Florence building next door to Esselen residence, spilled over this week as some Witsies living there vented their frustration on twitter.

Dion Mkhonza ran a hand across his face as he relived his experience of the strange rains.

Strange rains

“You come off the bus and this water hits your face. You think it’s rain first but then you see that pipe and it’s spraying sewage from that building,” Mkhonza said pointing at the dilapidated Florence building separated from Esselen residence only by a filthy alleyway swimming with rubbish and ankle deep with sewage.

Not only does human excrement rain from the skies, it also flies in through windows.

“Last year someone from Florence building threw a plastic bag full of shit out their window and it landed in our laundry area. “Ne nkare ho shweli motho (It was like somebody had died),” said a resident, who asked not to be named.

Peeping Toms

The student also said that on Monday, a man was staring at her through the window as she came out of the shower.

Another student, Manda-Lee Debathe, 4th  year B.Ed, said the same thing had happened to her. [pullquote]“In that building anyone arrives and says they are boss,”[/pullquote]

“When we are dressing in the morning there are guys standing at their balconies with their coffee watching,” Debathe said.

Accommodation officer in charge of Esselen, Elsie Mooke, confirmed that residents of the adjoining Florence building, formerly a private hospital before being converted into residential apartments, often threw out rubbish, bath water and excrement from their windows and into Esselen.

“It’s really dirty and it’s really affecting the area. Wits has sent the environment people here but it didn’t help…Students can’t open their windows because of the terrible smell and the mosquitoes, and they can only get fresh air from the passage,” Mooke said.

Owner gone AWOL

Mooke said attempts to deal with the problem had hit a wall because no one knows who the owner of the building is.

Together with another Esselen resident and house committee member, Kelobogile Sebopelo, Mooke described the fears they had in dealing with anyone from the Florence building.

“Last year they came looking for me and I acted like I didn’t know anything.” he reported.

“In that building anyone arrives and says they are boss,” Mooke said, warning this Wits Vuvuzela journalist to be careful and not to attempt to enter the Florence building.

Sebopelo told a more troubling story.

“There was a guy. Wits was trying to buy the building but then the guy was stabbed over there,” Sebopelo said, pointing beyond her 2nd floor window to the intersection adjacent to Constitutional Hill.

Accommodation officer Mooke was reluctant to speak about the stabbing incident, preferring to point out the good things about Esselen rather than the bad.

“There is warmth inside here,” she said.

Mkhonza, in his third year as an Esselen resident and a member of the house committee, said they had been promised many times that Esselen would be closed down and moved to Parktown but the promise had not materialised.

Place to call home

The education student was adamant, however, that all was not flying faeces at Esselen.

“When I moved here in first year I thought it would be bad until you see other people.

“It is the people who live here that keep you here, not the building,” Mkhonza said.

Rasta not all about ganga

PEACE,LOVE : RAS member Terrance Nzuza prefering to smoke a beedi (Indian-style tobacco wrapped in a leaf) rather than marijuana.  He said Rastari culture was not all “pot-smoking and reggae. “                                Photo: Mfuneko Toyana

PEACE,LOVE : RAS member Terrance Nzuza prefering to smoke a beedi (Indian-style tobacco wrapped in a leaf) rather than marijuana. He said Rastari culture was not all “pot-smoking and reggae. “ Photo: Mfuneko Toyana

 

AFTER a three year hiatus, the Rastafarian community is back on campus with a new name and a fresh vision that will kick-off this Friday when the society hosts the 2014 National Rastafari Summit. [pullquote align=”right”]“Ganga doesn’t make the Rasta…there is a time and space for praying, same as ganga,”[/pullquote]

The two-day summit is part of the Rastafari Association for Students (RAS) (formerly the Rastafarian Appreciation Society) celebration of Black History Month as well as an attempt by the Rastafarian community on campus to reposition itself as a human rights group.

“The [previous] society became about reggae and pot-smoking. These things didn’t inform students about the culture,” said Terrance Nzuza, an art student and one of the leaders of the society.

“RAS is opening its heart and doors to other societies and cultures. It is not a platform for conflict.

The vision is to follow the teachings of Haile Selassie, especially his vision of forming the OAU (Organisation for African Unity) and celebrating humanity,” Nzuza said.

[pullquote]The summit starts on Friday at lunch time in Senate House basement five with talks by Ras Dr Midas Chawane and Ras Mandlenkosi Matiko followed by a panel discussion open to the floor.[/pullquote]On the issue of marijuana, which is often inseparable from Rastafarian culture in the public mind, Nzuza said they viewed smoking of the herb as sacramental.

“Ganga doesn’t make the Rasta…there is a time and space for praying, same as ganga,” said Nzuza, who has been a Rastafari for over a decade.

Nzuza explained the summit beginning on Friday would be chiefly about Rastas learning to exercise self-criticism and taking ownership of their identity.

The self-funded summit was borne out of 44 challenges identified by research conducted by the CRL (Cultural, Religious and Linguistic) Commission.

It will draw representatives from Rastafarian houses and mansions around the country and further afield to discuss issues and find solutions to problems such as “police brutality and petty justice” directed at the Rasta community.

The summit is open to all those wishing to learn more about Rastafari or have an interest in the culture.

Nzuza said while it was good that many had learnt the principles of “peace, love and happiness” from Bob Marley, it was  essential for people to go beyond this and  deeper into the teachings of Rastafari.

 

 

Girton Hall star struck

HOTEL LIVING: Girton Hall residents are enjoying “state of the art “facilities.                   Photo: Roxanne Joseph

HOTEL LIVING: Girton Hall residents are enjoying “state of the art “facilities. Photo: Roxanne Joseph

By Emelia Motsai and Roxanne Joseph

Wits ladies residence, Girton Hall, is a mere star away from achieving three star status according to the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa.

Girton Hall was recently awarded two stars in the backpackers and hostelling category. Director of housing and residence life Rob Sharman said the university wanted to get accredited because they used residences during vacations for conference accommodation and “needed to assure potential users that our facilities will meet their expectations”.

“University residences have to operate in the most cost-effective manner possible, and it is a requirement of the Department of Higher Education & Training that they are financially fully self-sufficient. Hence our decision to seek the assistance of the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa,” said Sharman.

[pullquote align=”right”]“The bathrooms are never dirty and gross and if your bin gets full, you just put it outside your room and someone empties it.” [/pullquote]

Wits had performed very well in the review of student residences in 2010/11, Sharman said, but “I felt that we should also seek benchmarks that are not solely based on student residences at other universities.”

Girton Hall was evaluated on the condition of the premises, and essential services offered.

Shruti Brijkumar, a student who stays at the res, agreed that the residence was worthy of the stars it had received: “It’s really clean. They clean your room once a week and wax the floors.”

Another student, Micaela Gradidge, said the posturepaedic mattresses were a favourite for her: “[they are] really comfortable.”

Gradidge said she also appreciated how clean their residence was: “The bathrooms are never dirty and gross and if your bin gets full, you just put it outside your room and someone empties it.” Gradidge said the food was also a lot better this year compared to last year. She had “stopped eating in res in the second semester, because the food was so bad.” Sharman said Girton Hall was a pilot in a project that will be rolled out to other residences. “By midyear we anticipate that Medhurst and Reith [residences] will also have been assessed.” He said Girton, Medhurst and Reith bathrooms were undergoing total renovation. They are also creating more tea/snack kitchens for the convenience of students.  Laundry facilities at the three residences would be upgraded this year.

According to Sharman the university’s residence capacity has been increased from 3 100 to 6 100 beds and the types of residences have “been extended to include state-of-the art facilities and accommodation in some of our newer reside

VC team puts their best futsal forward

 

SRC treasurer Sandile Ngwenya prepares to attack, while Vice Chancellor Adam Habib readies his defence

SRC treasurer Sandile Ngwenya prepares to attack, while Vice Chancellor Adam Habib readies his defence

 

THE VICE Chancellor’s Office and the SRC faced off at Wits University’s first futsal match on Tuesday evening. It was an equally matched struggle which saw an anticlimatic draw.

The SRC played a nine-all draw against Vice Chancellor Adam Habib’s selected team. Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research and Post Graduate Affairs Dr Zeblon Vilakazi impressed not only his teammates but also his opponents with his soccer skills. He alternated from goalkeeper, to midfielder and striker.

Sport Officer Dennis Tshabalala said Futsal “is a 5-a-side game played either indoor or outdoor. The game is played with a low bounce ball.” The duration of the match is a maximum 20 minutes per half.
At first glance, it appeared to be an ill-match, with Habib’s white haired, pot bellied team. The team not only surprised its audiences but their opponents, and indeed, themselves.

The older team was surprised by their own endurance, pace and skills. “Game turning out more even than I thought, guys from their 40’s and 50’s are keeping up,” said Vilakazi.The SRC made more substitutions than their older opponents. This was not an indication of their lack of fitness but a strategy to exhaust their opponents and give all their members an opportunity to play. 

[pullquote align=”right”]“We had lots of fun, it’s just a pity we were faced with an opposition we had to take pity on,” SRC treasurer Sandile Ngwenya said. [/pullquote]

SRC Sports Council chairperson, Andrew Keightley-Smith said the launch was not only a way for the SRC to develop relations between themselves, senior management and sporting staff but also to make sport accessible to everyone.
“We wanted to show students futsal is not for people who play competitively but everyone, boys, girls and even staff members” said Keightley-Smith.

The futsal courts, located at West Campus Dig Field were built on donations from the National Lottery fund for over R1-million. Sport officer Dennis Tshabalala said the funds were used on futsal courts because of the variety sporting codes the futsal courts surface can cater for.

“The surface can be a design for other sporting codes; if you look at basketball court, you could do that. That surface you can literally use it for any other form of sport” said Tshabalala.

The courts are a way for people who are not necessarily a part of a sporting team to take part competitively in a fun sport which will be made accessible to everyone.
This was a way for students and the Wits community to keep active and promote a healthy lifestyle.
“Those courts are here simply because we want to grow the game on campus because there are those people who don’t necessarily want to play the normal 11-a-side and this will give them a nice platform to do so,” said Tshabalala
A tournament will officially start on the March 10 and anyone can start a team. Forms and further details can be accessed from Tshabalala at:

Clever students lack book smarts

DISTRACTED: Learners from the Bidvest academy in class during their Isizulu lesson. Photo: Palesa Radebe

DISTRACTED: Learners from the Bidvest academy in class during their Isizulu lesson. Photo: Palesa Radebe

BIDVEST Wits training academy has been put on the back foot following questions about the academic performance of its students.

Wits Vuvuzela recently asked the training academy for information on how many of its students complete matric. In response, the training academy asked why Wits Vuvuzela was interested in their work.

“My worry is your article sounds little bit negative towards what we are doing,” said training academy head of development affairs Glen Salmon. Salmon could not provide statistics to tell Wits Vuvuzela how many of the academy’s students completed their studies.“It’s very difficult also within South Africa to cater for everyone, there are some boys who excel, who get fantastic marks, clever boys from privileged backgrounds.

“[pullquote align=”right”]The Cambridge syllabus requires students to think independently rather than the South African spoon-feeding system[/pullquote]

 

There are some boys from poorer backgrounds, with poorer schooling who struggle,” Salmon said.
Training academy headmaster Mike Crampton blamed the South African basic education system for his students’ struggle to perform academically. He said the students were not able to think “independently” without supervision. Crampton said the academy students were taught with the ‘Cambridge syllabus’ rather than the one used by the South African basic education system.

The Cambridge syllabus requires students to think independently rather than the South African spoon-feeding system,” said Crampton.

The Bidvest Wits training academy is a football-training centre with the objective to prepare young players to play professional football. The academy takes students from grade 11 to matric and follows the British Cambridge syllabus, which Crampton said is similar to university standard.

Salmon said the students come to the academy at different education levels “so it’s difficult to cater for everyone, that’s why the Cambridge syllabus is so positive in that way you can teach them on their level”.

Bidvest Wits Training Academy head coach Ashley Makhanya said the academy was set up around the soccer season. The students attend morning and afternoon training sessions, leaving only four hours in their schedule for schooling.
“The students are not chosen based on their academic credentials but more on the football skills, the academy is set up to offer support to their sporting career,” said Makhanya.

Makhanya said the biggest challenge the academy was facing is to keep the students focused on their academics.
“They need to take their school work seriously, not all of them make it to the PSL, only a small percentage makes it to the PSL,” Makhanya said. Makhanya said the academy spent a lot of funds to ensure the students did well in school providing them with food and housing in addition to an education.

A former scholar said the academy was set up similar to a private school and the syllabus was difficult. He said that most players focused more on the soccer rather than schoolwork.
The former student asked for anonymity because he feared speaking to the media would jeopardise his chances of making it to the PSL.

HEI life not over for café owners

Co-owners of HEI cafe,Edlison Chuene and Lincoln Ncame are determined to see the cafe open its doors once again.

Co-owners of HEI cafe,Edlison Chuene and Lincoln Ncame are determined to see the cafe open its doors once again.

The owners of HEI  Café, in Braamfontein, which closed down two months ago, are determined that the café will reopen its doors.

Co-owners of Hei Café  Lincoln Ncame and Edlin Chuene are confident about the future of HEI café, at 26 Melle street, Braamfontein. “It is the love of our lives,” they both say.

Meet the team

Ncame strolls towards me with an effortless bounce, his vintage swag buttoned firmly in a chunky cardigan.Next to me, Chuene’s face crinkles into a soft smile, as he explains the significance of the café and how its demise came about.

The café is an extension of the Hillbrow Entrepreneurship Initiative (HEI). A non-profit organization that helps people start up their own self-sustaining projects. The profits from the café have carried the work of the NGO, and while donations are coming in steadily, the gap of the investors is undeniable.

The popular café closed down after the rent had gone unpaid due to investors pulling out, leaving the café financially unsustainable. Now what once was  the “rabbit hole” of Braamfonetin has gone eerily silent. HEI  Café, has always been “different”, its loyal followers and regulars say.

[pullquote align=”right”]“We’re outliers, it’s harder to be an outlier but its more rewarding,”[/pullquote]

The space 

Housed in 100sq in what once was a dingy alley way behind Nando’s, the café welcomed volunteers from all corners of Braamfontein who wanted to make a difference by offering a space to young entrepreneurs and self-starters who needed to hold meetings and interviews.The café launched in 2013, opening its doors to curious and quirky Braamfontein  citizens.

The café  with its cheeky vintage mood  hosted music gigs throughout the year and became home to many regulars who used the unassuming alleyway to escape the hustle and bustle of Braamfontein.

Despite the financial difficulties, Ncame and Chuene have taken it upon themselves to find a way to make HEI Café work. The challenge lies in that HEI is different,“We’re outliers, it’s harder to be an outlier but its more rewarding,said Chuene.

[pullquote]“When it (HEI) [re]opens, it will show that people can give themselves to a cause,”[/pullquote]

The return

The Braamfontein alleyway art programme has managed to clean up the dingy alley, marking the entrance with fluorescent coloured umbrella’s, inviting all sorts of curious travellers to HEI’s doorstep.

Where there’s a will there’s a way. Ncame and Chuene are adamant that HEI will make its return .Chuene said that if people put more effort into who they say they are, we can do more change.“When it (HEI) [re]opens, it will show that people can give themselves to a cause,” said Chuene.  Their attitude is: Hei will survive

No right to be gay in Uganda

wpid-photo.jpg

Justice Edwin Cameron meets and greets well-wishers at the launch of his book Justice this week.Photo: Luca Kotton.

by Luca Kotton and Roxanne Joseph

Being gay or even supporting gay rights is now illegal  in Uganda and can lead to life imprisonment.

Less than a week ago, President Yoweri Museveni signed the anti-homosexuality bill into law and since then, the onslaught from both local and international communities alike has been significant.

The act “prohibits any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex; prohibits the promotion or recognition of such relations and to provide for other related matters.”

First drafted in 2009, the bill originally proposed the death penalty, but was later amended to life imprisonment because of international pressure.

Having sex with someone of the same gender, marrying someone of the same gender and touching someone of the same gender with “intent” to engage in a sexual act will land you in prison for the rest of your life. Officiating a same-gender marriage, aiding or counselling an LGBTI individual, offering premises or supplies to an LGBTI individual and directing a company or NGO that supports LGBTI rights leads to prison time of five to seven years.

Despite the watered down version of the bill coming into law, several countries – including Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the US and the UK – have pulled financial aid from Uganda, one of the world’s poorest nations (as classified by the World Bank).

South Africa’s Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke said “oppressors like (Ugandan President Yoweri) Museveni should not be allowed to flourish.”

Speaking at the launch of Justice Edwin Cameron’s book  Justice, on Thursday night, Moseneke added his voice to the condemnation of Uganda’s recently signed Bill. Cameron is one of South Africa’s most prominent gay rights activists and a colleague of Moseneke at the Constitutional Court.  [Read an extract from Cameron’s newest book here.]

No official condemnation of Uganda’s anti-homosexuality act has yet been issued by the South African government.

 

Cocaine conman snuffed out

The infamous “cocaine conman” finally met his match today, in the form of a Wits law student, who managed to flip the script on the fraudster and “con a con”.

The scam-artist was nabbed by undercover officers on West Campus after a Witsie too smart to fall for the ruse alerted Campus Control.

[pullquote align=”right”]”He said that he was selling the guy cocaine worth R19 500, and that if I helped him he would give me R5000,”[/pullquote]

The approach

Solaneh Sibande was rushing over the Amic Deck bridge to a law lecture when a man fitting the muscular and tattooed description of the “cocaine conman” approached him, asking to use his cellphone.

Sibande said he immediately became suspicious when he noticed the man was looking intently at his cellphone, rather than his face, as he approached.

“I need a huge favour,” Sibande recalls the man saying. “I need to use your phone to call someone.”

Sibande said the man then ushered him to foyer outside the chamber of mines building.

“He told me not to panic. He was doing a deal with somebody inside the building. He said that he was selling the guy cocaine worth R19 500, and that if I helped him he would give me R5000,” Sibande said.

Who is fooling whom?

Sibande agreed and handed the man his phone. As the conman went through the motions of his well-rehearsed scam, pulling out a bag white powder as proof of the merchandise, Sibande twice tried to covertly alert students passing by of the situation without showing the conman that he was on to him.

“I had the Vuvuzela articles about this guy running through my head that time, but I didn’t want him to see that I knew what he was up to,” Sibande said.

Coke

Not Napping: Witsie Solaneh Sibande fears the “cocaine conman’s” accomplice might recognise his face. Photo: Mfuneko Toyana

Sibande said he kept the conman interested long enough for Campus Control to apprehend him by lying, saying he was rural boy from the homelands in Pietermaritzburg.

Out of options

Sibande said he realised that he run out of options when the conman asked for his cellphone again, and told him to fetch the bags of white powder that he had he hidden in a nearby flower bed, while the conman waited for the supposed customer with money.

“I balanced the equation right then,” Sibande said. Sibande asked to have his cellphone back for short while. When the conman handed it to him Sibande went to reception and put a call through to Campus Control.

Three undercover officers who had been monitoring the situation and had understood Sibande’s signal, swooped in and arrested the man.

Campus Control security liaison manager Lucky Khumela confirmed the arrest of the cocaine conman in an email, calling it the capture of a “big fish”.

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