Wits to ‘cooperate fully’ with rape investigation

Wits vice chancellor (VC) Prof Adam Habib has said the university will cooperate with the police investigation into an alleged rape of a student by a fellow student.

A 22-year-old female Witsie has accused a male student of date rape, after she found herself in his bed, unable to remember what had happened to her.

She woke up on Monday morning, after having drinks with him the night before and, according to reports, found condoms on the floor of his room.

The 30-year-old student suspect did not deny having sex with the woman when she asked him what had happened. According to police, the two were out at a local bar together when the complainant started to feel dizzy.

“The criminal investigation will take its own course, with the University cooperating fully,” Habib said, in a statement released by the Wits Sexual Harassment Office (SHO).

Jackie Dugard of the SHO told Wits Vuvuzela she has not yet met with the complainant, but has spoken to her over the phone.

“We have offered the complainant counselling and will see how further to proceed after a more in-depth conversation,” she said.

The accused student appeared in court on Thursday and his case has been postponed. According to Dugard, “… the university regards him as innocent until proven guilty.”

The university said that the incident, which happened off campus, was reported directly to the police by the complainant.

This case is the third of its kind at Wits this year. Earlier in the year a Wits student was raped off campus by two men who were not affiliated with the university and at the beginning of last month, a student was allegedly raped in her university residence.


Related articles

Wits Vuvuzela‘I don’t remember being raped’, September 19, 2014

Wits Vuvuzela: Wits student allegedly raped in university residence, August 12, 2014

Wits Vuvuzela: Wits student raped off campus, April 11, 2014




Wits solar car takes on long distance challenge

LIGHTYEAR: The Wits solar car will race from Pretoria to Cape Town starting Saturday September 27, the winning car must travel the longest distance in eight days. Photo: Provided

LIGHTYEAR: The Wits solar car will race from Pretoria to Cape Town starting this Saturday. The winning car must travel the longest distance in eight days. Photo: Provided

Witsies will race a solar-powered car from Pretoria to Cape Town in an eight-day challenge starting later this week. The Wits solar car is hoping to go the distance in this year’s Sasol Solar Challenge, a race based on the distance covered and not speed.

Solar cars are raced all over the world, but the South African race is unique in that it is based on distance covered said team manager Kamil Midor.  Midor is a visiting lecturer in the Wits School of Mechanical, Industrial and Aeronautical Engineering.

The cars will travel a distance of 2000km on the main route with campsites every 230km.  Cars can expand the distance travelled up to 6000km by doing loops that vary between 58km and 132km.  “The final winner is the car that travelled the longest distance during the period of eight days,” said Midor.  Each day the cars must reach the designated finish line by 5.30pm.

Racing history

Wits participated in the race for the first time in 2012 and came fourth.  Learning from the previous race, they built the new car with improvements.  “It’s much lighter, much more energy efficient than before,” said Midor.

“It’s like a bicycle, just with more energy”

This is one of the cheapest cars in the competition, and it cost R130 000 to make it, said Midor.  The car can convert 22% of the sun’s energy into electricity.  This is an improvement from the previous race where it could only convert about 16%.

The car uses less energy than a hairdryer and can reach a top speed of 120km/h. “It’s like a bicycle, just with more energy,” he said. 

Solar team
Besides other South African universities, Wits will also compete against international teams from India, Turkey, Iran and current world champions, Holland.


No contest for SRC leader: PYA

The choice of Mcebo Dlamini for Student Representative Council (SRC) president was not contested within the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) , one of the organisation’s leaders said.

“There’s no one who contested presidency, Mcebo was elected unopposed,” Wits Young Communist League secretary David Manabile told Wits Vuvuzela. The Young Communist League is part of the PYA.

Last week, Wits Vuvuzela reported that there was disagreement within the PYA over who should be SRC president. According to one of the PYA leaders interviewed in the article, there was a struggle to decide between Dlamini, Amogelang  Manganyi and Senzekahle Mbokazi for president. There was disagreement over their different levels of experience and ability to carry out their duties.

But Manabile rejected this claim and said only Dlamini was mentioned as a potential president at the PYA’s deployment committee meeting and the following branch general meeting (BGM).

“We adopted recommendations of the deployment committee as they were. The only name raised for presidency was Mcebo Dlamini,” said Manabile.

“Those faceless people you interviewed might have had a different view but rest assured in the meeting we had, no one raised any other name for presidency.”

Sharing the same view, incoming president Dlamini said PYA members who believed there was a contest for SRC president were “lying”.

“There wasn’t any contestation for presidency, the sources were lying. I do not know if they were in the same BGM that we were in,” Dlamini said.

Although presidency was uncontested, Manabile said that PYA members in the BGM, which is the organisation’s highest decision making body, had differences over who would be Dlamini’s deputy.

“We did have different views as to who must deputize him but at the end we reached consensus, we left the meeting united, believing in the leadership that the BGM has agreed upon,” said Manabile.

A deployment committee list seen by Wits Vuvuzela listed Dlamini as president and Manganyi as vice president. The house reshuffled Manganyi to deputy secretary general and Shaeera Kalla from secretary general to vice president. Mbokazi who was initially given CSO and Student governance, was moved to secretary general.

Dlamini said although the vice president and secretary general portfolios were contested, that should not be seen as though “we are fighting”.

“It’s not like we are fighting when we contest. Contestation is fine and is allowed. It’s wrong for people who were in the BGM to witness this contestation and say that there is bad blood,” said Dlamini.

Activist and inspiration: Yusuf Talia dies due to illness

GREATNESS: Witsie Yusuf Talia has left a proud legacy through his short life.

GREATNESS: Witsie Yusuf Talia has left a proud legacy in his 25 years of life. Photo: Facebook

An activist. A leader. An inspiration. Those are some of the words used to describe Witsie Yusuf Talia who passed away today at the age of 25.

The wheelchair-bound Talia, who battled with muscular dystrophy, was a familiar face around campus where he actively involved in politics and societies. He was part of the Disabled Students Movement and the president of the Muslim Students Association (MSA).  He was also an energetic activist for Palestine.

Talia was elected to the Student Representative Council (SRC) under the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) banner and served as deputy president on the council in 2010.

“Today is a sad day for everybody who knew the gentle soul that was Yusuf but also for Wits in general,” said outgoing SRC president Shafee Verachia.

Verachia said Talia had dedicated his life to service and was a role model for others.

“He was the perfect example of what it means to serve humanity,” Verachia said.

The 2013 SRC president, Sibulele Mgudlwa, said Talia was someone who always had time to help his fellow students.

“One thing which sticks out about Yusuf is the ability he had to avail himself whenever he could to assist students and give of his time, despite his physical condition and pressing academic commitments,” Mgudlwa said.

“He was sociable and approachable while at the same time dignified and respectable,” said Mgudlwa, “We will miss him.”

Talia was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy at an early age though very few people knew about his life-threatening disease because of his work ethic.

Talia was named as one of the top 200 young South Africans by the Mail & Guardian in 2013 for his contribution the higher education system and his work to improve conditions for disabled students.

“He was sociable and approachable while at the same time dignified and respectable,”

In an interview with Wits Vuvuzela at the time, Talia said of the recognition, with his trademark humility, “I feel so honoured. It was so unexpected.

He told Wits Vuvuzela that the youth should work towards improving society: “The youth need to adopt an attitude of helping those in need in their societies. We can do anything we put our minds to.”

Talia was studying towards an honours degree in Physiology and hoped to be a doctor one day. He had already earned a BSc and a degree in Actuarial Science.

On behalf of the outgoing SRC, Verachia wished “the Almighty to grant strength to his parents, brother Waseem and to all those touched by this amazing human being”.


INFOGRAPHIC: A decade of good news

This year marks 10 years since Wits Vuvuzela was first published. The award-winning community newspaper first launched its website in 2005 and since then, has gone on to publish its content on other forms of social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and  YouTube.

by Roxanne Joseph and Lameez Omarjee


10 years of Wits Vuvuzela



Arts in the name of climate change

Art-Activist: Neo-soul artist Nicole Daniella lends her voice in the fight for climate change. Photo: Palesa Tshandu

ART-ACTIVIST:  Neo-soul artist Nicole Daniella lends her voice in the fight for climate change. Photo: Palesa Tshandu


The arts came alive in the fight for climate change in Johannesburg’s Newtown last night as part of an initiative calling for African governments to prioritise the issue.

The concert, hosted by 350Africa, involved a number of Witsies who used their artistic talents to contribute to the evening’s line-up.

Second year Wits psychology student and neo-soul artist Nicole Daniella lent her voice to the fight against climate change. Daniella said it was “an honour” to be part of an organisation that advocates for the betterment of the environment.

She said, “we need to have events like this to raise awareness because we aren’t as aware as the northern hemisphere, so we need to become aware because it’s affecting us as its affecting them.

Third year BA student and poet Lebohang Nova’ Masango who performed her popular To Do List for Africa poem said, “the way our socio-economic system is set up is that anything that happens in terms of climate change will hit us the hardest”.

350Africa and Arab world team leader Ferrial Adam said the event was more about awareness than entertainment.

“It’s not so much a celebration as it is about creating awareness and I think there is so much strength in music and poetry that we also want to revive that in our campaigning, so this is only the beginning”, said Adam.

The concert comes just after the organisation staged a march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Thursday, to deliver a petition to the President asking him to address the issues of climate issues for South Africans when he meets with global leaders in at the United Nations in New York next Tuesday.

“ Yesterday we handed in a petition to the presidency to say, look we know South Africans is going through these talks, these are our demands, said Adam”.

It’s not so much a celebration as it is about creating awareness and I think there is so much strength in music and poetry that we also want to revive that in our campaigning, so this is only the beginning.”

Adam confirmed that climate change is not at the top of the agenda for African governments, however said that the impact of climate affects change is going to affect the poorest and “it’s something we need to deal with”.

Campaigner at 350Africa Amir Bagheri confirmed that the organisation is due to open the first ever university branch at Wits at the beginning of next year.

“We have already collected over 40 signatures in support of starting the 350Wits group, which is enough to be recognised by the Wits Student Representative Council and admin”, said Bagheri.

INFOGRAPHIC: Party smart, party safe

It is party season at Wits with res parties and the Engineer’s Breakfast still to hit campus.  But with dangers of date rape, theft and drunken fights threatening festivities, Witsies have developed their own ways of safe-guarding their after-dark activities.

First year, BSc student Xiao Liang always makes sure to hold her drink in her hand at all times and when dancing, makes sure no one dumps anything inside.

Wandile Ngwenya, 2nd year BAccSci said “I’m holding a bottle and if I’m not looking I put my thumb over it.”

Melissa Kabanguka, 2nd year BA Psychology  said it’s important to go out with friends you trust. “Don’t stay alone with someone you are not comfortable with”.

Witsies are encouraged to drink responsibility to avoid dangerous situations.



Recognition for the women of Marikana

Asanda Benya, a sociology researcher and Phd student speaking on women in Marikana. Photo: Percy Matshoba

WOMEN POWER: Asanda Benya, a sociology researcher and Phd student speaking about the role of women in supporting Marikana. Photo: Percy Matshoba

A Wits researcher is challenging dominant narratives about Marikana by highlighting the role of women in the community after the shootings of local miners on August 16, 2012.

Speaking at a seminar at Wits University this week, sociology researcher Asanda Benya said “the voices of women have been silenced in the narrative about Marikana.”

Benya said that when the male miners lost their jobs in 2012 the women used their stokvels and other saving schemes to fund the men and the strikes that subsquently took place.

She said that although they were not directly involved in the strikes, the women sustained the protests by cooking and raising funds. The women also worked to secure the release of 270 miners who were arrested in the aftermath of the shootings.

She said that the notion that “women have not been active in the strikes” is not true.

“Women of Marikana are active agents,” she said emphasising that the women did not only support the miners but also actively taking charge in order to ensure the wellbeing of their community.

“The women of Marikana’s lives are ordered by the mines” said Benya. “The victories and challenges at work is what they talk about every time”

“The mine forms their way of being, their way of living”

Master’s student in Industrial Sociologist, Patricia Ndlovu said that the injustices happening in Marikana were not unique to other economic issues faced by other people living in informal settlements.

“There are a lot of informal settlements in South Africa operating like Marikana,” she said.

Asked about what needs to be done in Marikana Benya said “everything”. She said the living conditions of the people in Marikana does not resemble a constitutional South Africa.

“The government needs to do something to help the people of Marikana, it’s their responsibility,” she said.


Wits Great Hall stairs vandalised

Racial statements were found written on the Wits Great Hall stairs on Friday morning. Photo: Luke Matthews

Statements were found spray-painted on the Wits Great Hall stairs on Friday morning.
Photo: Luke Matthews

CORRECTION: The article originally omitted the word “building” giving the impression that Umthombo is a student residence. Additionally, the term “racial statements” in the photo caption has been changed to “statements”.


“Black power, Biko lives” and “fuck white racism” were the words that greeted Witsies as they approached the Great Hall this morning.

The graffiti appeared overnight, sprayed in black paint, on the steps of Wits’ most iconic building.

Student residences Sunnyside, Mens Res and the Umthombo building were also targeted in separate but apparently related incidents. The graffiti appeared to favour the renaming of buildings on campus. Mens Res residents found their building sprayed with “Robert Sobukwe Hall” while students at Sunnyside res found their res had been “renamed” after Winnie Madikizela.

Susan Laname, a Sunnyside resident, claimed that the EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters) may be responsible for the tagging of the buildings as the renaming of campus buildings was part of their election campaign.

Other buildings vandalised were Umthombo, Mens res and Sunnyside res. Photo: Luke Matthews

Other buildings vandalised were Umthombo, Mens res and Sunnyside res.
Photo: Luke Matthews

EFF chairman Vuyani Pambo confirmed members of his organisation were not involved in the spraying of the graffiti, saying he had only found out about it through social networks.

“We are not responsible for the tagging, we engage the university directly as we did about our campaign, he added.

“I, for one, think it’s telling, maybe the pressure the students are feeling, and this is one way in which they are finding expression,” said Pambo.

Wits Campus Control say they have no strong leads and little evidence as to the guilty parties.

“So far we have received the complaint and we have seen the graffiti and we are taking it very serious and we are doing own investigation,” said Lucky Khumela, Campus Control’s security and liaison manager .



Q & A with Arabile Gumede

AFTER graduating from the University of Johannesburg with a BCom in accounting, Arabile Gumede, accepted an internship at CNBC Africa. He rose swiftly through the ranks most recently becoming a permanent financial news anchor last year at eNCA at the age of 25.

He spoke to Wits Vuvuzela about his career and being employed as a young person.


What was your motivation for getting into financial journalism?

The important thing for me is to be able to actually give you the underlying story of how important your money really is, not just for yourself but to the South African consumer [as well].


Has it been something that you always wanted to pursue and for what reason?

I guess, a lot of it is because it’s not a huge segment in South African journalism. I really wasn’t even keen on journalism to begin with because I did a lot of accounting in varsity. I actually have an honours degree in accounting. A lot of it for me was being able to tell that story.

Q&A 2

Financial news anchor at eNCA, Arabile Gumede, talks about his career and youth unemployment. Photo: Luke Matthews


What challenges have you had to overcome while pursuing your career?

Well, I think there are still challenges every single day. [When] one is a young, black financial journalist, people look at you with a sense of “he’s too young to know certain things” or “he hasn’t reached that level of experience to understand certain elements”. That continues to be your stumbling block and you continue to take it and say “well, I’m going to grow from this and I’m going get to speak to people who will help me get to understand those concepts a whole lot better”.

Recently Stats SA released figures that 25,5% of youth are unemployed, 15% of these are black youth. Would you say this is a result of the quality of education South Africa has, specifically to disadvantaged black youth?

I’m 25 and that lifetime in itself doesn’t mean we have solved every single problem that has been faced in terms of creating jobs and creating an ability for a family to continue to create jobs. Understand that how a family creates jobs is being able to [in the Western context] take their kid to high school and varsity and that ultimately leading to an education, leading them to a job.


You are an exception to the statistics, how would you advise black youth to create a better future for themselves?

Nobody is going to do it for you. It starts off at a point where if you want to get to a certain place you are going to have to get there yourself. Nobody is going to give you favours, nobody is going to give you hand-outs, and if you do then you better grab those with all your might and all your strength and run with it. It gets really difficult and one thing for sure, what you get given, if you can produce that tenfold you are likely to succeed no matter what industry you are in. It’s about making what you feel is important to remain important.


SLICE OF LIFE: ‘Black is the colour of my true love’

“I HAVE black friends”: a phrase that some white people wear as armour before entering into a racial battlefield, hoping  it will save them from their history.  It doesn’t. Instead it reminds us that black people are tokens in the claim for racial neutrality.

Apartheid’s residue left a culture of people struggling to reconcile what it means to be black with the people they really are. Some even reject this compromise, not wanting to identify with blackness because our history is so loaded with injustices. They do not want to wear the trauma of our past.

We can all agree that apartheid should never have happened, but it did and now we are dealing with its ramifications the best way we know how. And that means owning our blackness. Class_2014_001

Consciously black  

Being black is one of the most magical things you can be.  Being aware of your skin colour means having a deep understanding of the injustices that our forebears suffered under apartheid, despite how foreign that time seems to us now. This gives me a greater awareness of the inequalities we face on a day-to-day basis, even in a supposedly non-racial South Africa.

Black Twitter has afforded us a culturally loaded space where black people converge to launch a coup d’ètat against white supremacy and to find humour in the worst situations. This free space to discuss issues is perhaps one of the best things about being black.

When we deny being black we are in essence rejecting the part of ourselves that affords us the sanctity of knowing.

Using social media as a platform to express our hurts, fears and anger against racism, we make the decision to claim our struggle, label it and place it accordingly, without the misdirection of white supremacy.

Our melanin gives us the ability to soak in the natural goodness of the sun and colour ourselves with the light of the world, showing off the beauty of our skin tone. Our blackness affords us a space in two different worlds. We are able to go from suburb to township and understand our positions in these two worlds without being restricted by our own blackness.

Denying colour 

Admittedly, ours is a society with people from different backgrounds and with different experiences of race and racism. It is part of our diversity that we are able to claim our own identities and celebrate them without judgment or fear.

Being black should therefore not be a default condition where we fear claiming our blackness because it’s loaded by stereotypes. We should rather marvel at this melanin cloak and wear it with pride.

When we deny being black we are in essence rejecting the part of ourselves that affords us the sanctity of knowing.This knowing allows us to see past the hidden agenda of white entitlement which caused disillusioned black people to believe whiteness was something people should aspire to.

Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie once said: “Racism should have never happened and you don’t get a cookie for reducing it.” But race denialism … well, that is an even worse atrocity.

About those stacks of bricks you’ve seen on the Wits campus

IMG_7030 - Copy (2)

HOME DÉCOR: Masters Students Jamy-Lee Brophy and Megan Heilig exhibit recreations of the home environment at various venues in and around campus. The displays are part of their new project which focuses on creating what they call ‘institutions’, which explores and examines what we as multicultural beings experience as an institution and the effects of this experience. Photo: Provided

You’ve probably seen the stack of bricks arranged outside the Wits School of Arts, the Great Hall and other random places around campus and been curious and confused about why they’re there.

As part of a new project, Wits Fine Arts students Jamy-Lee Brophy and Megan Heilig have collected unused bricks from campus and around Braamfontein and built small-scale structures they call ”institutions”.

The project focuses on exploring and examining the idea of what different institutions, especially homes, mean to us in Johannesburg and as students on campus.

“We’re questioning the ideas of institutions, and how institutions reinforce ideologies and constructions and we try and challenge them,” said Brophy. “We have collected bricks … and what we do from this is basically try to build an institution, one that can create a conversation in different spaces and one that’s kind of transitory.”

Heilig added: “I think an institution is an experience, so in everyone’s lives we experience things such as race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, cultural background, and all these things amalgamated within the city and especially in Johannesburg.”

Brophy and Heilig collected the bricks for free from people who wanted to get rid of them, but they also “stole” materials some of them from campus. Heilig said they stole materials because Wits wouldn’t give them funding for their project.

The duo also want to challenge and question the idea of claiming space on Wits campus. The current installation placed outside the Great Hall, which appear to be a pile of bricks, is seen as a “cornerstone”, the implication that there’s an institution outside of another institution. They move the bricks around to rebuild these institutions in various locations so that people will start talking about it and about why they’re doing it.

The focus of their project is somewhat political, and they look at political parties as institutions in themselves and what they represent or how they misrepresent. They created the Halfa Pitchca Party, which is their own organisation and which helps them examine the idea of the relationship between politics and art.

“I think that art is political, and that what’s happening here can be political and it can be social, and it can relate to other people,” said Heilig. “This thing is not just about art for art’s sake, we’re not painting to look how nice paint looks on a canvas, that’s not what all people do here.”

They want to encourage other students on campus to go to exhibitions held at places like the Substation and the Wits Art Museum and know that art is for everybody and something everybody can relate to. Their current project is a way of getting out on the streets and getting talking.

“We want people to know about it [exhibitions],” said Heilig. “We don’t want it to be this underground thing where only if you’re cool and in with the art kids you can come and check out their stuff, that’s bullshit. We need something fresh, something new, and we want to open up spaces in the city on the street and have spaces that we create, especially in the city.”