By Brian Tebogo Mashego, third year BA student
Last week Thursday I was chilling with a group of friends at the Matrix building at Wits University, and hell broke loose when one of my friends made a reckless statement about a fellow gay student.
Within a wink of an eye we then interrogated his thinking around the issue of homosexuality, and as we were having this conversation I realised that although our South African Constitution theoretically ensure equality for all, social acceptance of homosexuality and homosexuals is generally lacking especially by those of us who grew up in traditional and religious families.
The discussion reminded me of a heart breaking event that happened to a fellow student, Thabiso; who was a colleague of mine when I was studying at the Vaal University of Technology.
Thabiso was contesting the student elections when his opponents found out that he was gay. The entire election campaign then became focused around his sexuality, throwing his campaign into chaos. By the time voting began students didn’t want anything to do with him. My heart was broken because students didn’t judge him on the basis of his competent leadership skills, but on his sexuality.
That event robbed us of a having a potentially talented student leader. As I began the discussion of the unfair treatment of Thabiso at my old campus I was met with criticism, losing some of my friends along the way.
Many talented students who are capable of leading the student community are denied that opportunity based on their sexuality.
Our discussion at the matrix continued to raise questions about the prejudices that prevail today, especially amongst the student community.
Chunks of the student population on our campuses still embrace hostile attitudes and unfair treatment towards gay students.
Of greater concern than the utterance of my friends’ homophobic remarks, is the fact that – like Thabiso – many talented students who are capable of leading the student community are denied that opportunity based on their sexuality. Our broader society has not only influenced this negative thinking, but have also lead us as students to belittle and disqualify them based on their sexual orientation. We are told that it is “immoral” and “unafrican” to be gay or lesbian. Our selective morality is revealing.
I think we are facing a challenge of creating a supportive society that is inclusive and respectful of gays and lesbians.
Homosexuality is a topic around which our culture still gets awfully skittish. This became visible to me when I was talking to a few homosexual students. Most of them feel that greater hostility is shown to them by ‘traditional’ and religious people.
Thabiso’s case teaches us that there is a great need for our student communities to begin embracing sexual diveristy on our campuses. This must start with our student leadership.
They must breakthrough barriers and speak out against this unjust treatment on behalf of gay and lesbian students. They must do this because it’s their obligation as student leaders and are supposed to represent the entire student body.
Aspasia Karras, editor-in-chief of Marie Claire South Africa. Photo: Facebook
Aspasia Karras is the editor-in-chief of Marie Claire. Wits Vuvuzela spoke to Karras about this months “Naked Edition” of Marie Claire which is a yearly publication whose proceeds are donated to charity.
What are some of the difficulties that come with being an editor for a monthly women’s publication?
I wouldn’t say difficulties. Because it’s a monthly publication, what you put in the magazine has to be carefully considered, edited and curated. As media we are very fortunate because when you curate a brand like Marie Claire you have a website and Twitter that allow us to communicate things all the time for our readers which gives them a 24/7 experience of what’s happening and that can keep us very busy.
What are the origins behind the “Naked Issue” of Marie Claire?
The “Naked Issue” was started nine years ago. At the time doing a naked edition of a magazine was pretty dramatic stuff. I mean now you see celebrities like Helena Bonham Carter naked with a fish. This shows that naked has become a popular means of drawing attention to a particular cause. And that was the idea with the naked edition then and it still is the focus now.
What charity was used for this year’s edition and why?
This year’s campaign was for Blow the Whistle and it draws attention to, essentially, the terrible plague of violence that affects women and children in this country. So we felt that working with Blow the Whistle and getting amazing celebrities with real calibre and integrity to pose in the most vulnerable way really associated themselves with the victims. When you pose naked you are exposed and exposed to the entire nation. You become vulnerable like the victims.
Were you aiming for the same kind of response as last year’s #BoityReaction?
We haven’t had the Boity affect this year. The reason behind this is the seriousness of the campaign. I feel this year people have actually just understood what it was for and so we’re also celebrating this edition as well. The other thing that was moving about this year’s edition is the men who participated. They really exposed themselves and it’s a very brave act. They’ve really embraced the campaign.
by Riante Naidoo
It seems to me that for most young couples today, sex has become an integral part of relationships.
Although I believe it is entirely up to each individual as to when they start having sex, the general trend has certainly picked up in recent years, leaving our generation with the attitude that it is a relationship norm or requirement.
I beg to differ. I only discovered the general view of most students on campus when a friend assumed I had been sleeping with my boyfriend of four years. Dumbfounded by her assumption I sat and gave the notion serious thought. ‘Did they not see me as normal’ and ‘how can people just assume that’ were the questions that raced through my mind.
I wondered why girls complained endlessly about their ‘bae’ not being romantic or thoughtful enough, when they were all too excited to respond to his ‘booty call’.
On the flip side however, I find it is not only guys who centre their relationships around sex, but girls too.
Although, in some instances, it may be peer pressure or the need to feel desired that may push one to have sex, I feel it is directed more at a lack of self-respect or ignorance.
Sex is certainly not a need. As educated people, we have the ability to empower ourselves by whatever means necessary.
No matter your gender, whether your partner threatens to leave or pulls the ‘do it to show me you love me’ line, leave. Leave with your dignity still intact and your morale a little stronger.
After all, if you are the kind of lady who expects your husband to be pure enough for you, you do not want to be walking into that relationship with a hideous reputation or trail of ‘baby daddies’.
For those who are mature enough to maintain relationships which exclude the ‘sexual requirement’, there are so many perks of being young and in love. It is the time to enjoy the sillier side of life with your partner.
When I was 18, holding his hand, hanging out with friends together, sneaking into his lectures and waking up to his texts every morning was what made it exciting.
Our generation needs to re-discover what it is like to be embarrassed over being called out in his lecture and being teased by friends instead of falling pregnant after a drunken hook-up.
The idea of sex bogs me down with seriousness. Call me old-fashioned, but yes, it does carry a sacred value and level of intimacy I can wait for. Let it be something special you experience, one day with the most important one.
Despite all the aspiring Christian Grey’s or Anastasia Steele’s out there, who believe they are in their sexual prime, I assure you, there will be enough time for handcuffs and rose petals in between the sheets.
It is completely normal for young couples to be in relationships without sex. It is possible to be together where the other is not ‘getting it someplace else’ just because the two of you are not sleeping together.
This is the time to make memories. To go on road trips with friends, join campus societies and hike a mountain or invent something crazy. After all, Facebook was invented by a group of university students.
Make the real moments matter and just imagine what a legend you will be at graduation!
Tendai Dube and Lutho Mtongana
The Wits Varsity Shield team is back with a competitive bang, sitting top of the log with three wins and a draw in their first four matches of the season.
FNB Wits has been unstoppable since the season kicked off a month ago and this week was no different when the boys drew 37-all against the University of the Western Cape (UWC) at home.
Wits captain and flank Richard Crossman said the team has been fortunate in getting this far in the Cup.
“It’s been a huge transformation, we have a whole bunch of new guys, new management, and they are all fresh from matric. We only have two or three senior guys,” said Crossman.
Although they are currently leading the log, the team still have to work hard to stay ahead of the game and, according to Crossman, are training intensely.
“Our weaknesses is that we are young and inexperienced but that could also be our strength because our guys are young and are willing to learn,” Crossman said.
In their first game of the year the Wits boys went head-to-head against a normally challenging Fort Hare, and defeated them with a solid 39-24 win.
They then proceeded to squash the TUT Vikings with 71-36 in their next match on February 19.
CROSSING THE LINE: Richard Crossman, Wits Rugby Captain, flank Photo: Tendai Dube
On March 9 Wits will be playing against Fort Hare on the Wits Rugby Field and Crossman is determine that they will come out on top once again with their home ground advantage.
There are five teams in the Varsity Shield this year: UWC, Wits, Fort Hare, University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). Wits needs to finish at the top of the log at the end of the season to secure a chance to move back into the Varsity Cup.
FILL IN: A student fills in a NSFAS form to apply for university funding from the government. Photo: Ilanit Chernick
LERATO Morake* lives in a two-bedroom apartment in Pretoria. She drives a sleek, silver Audi to her job, where she earns R440 000 per annum.
She also has no plans to pay back the almost R200 000 she owes to NSFAS because no one has been around to collect.
Frustrated students across the country have protested a lack of funding provided for needy students by the National Student Financial Aids Scheme (NSFAS).
NSFAS is suffering a shortfall due in part to students not repaying their loans and replenishing the fund’s coffers.
But former students who are now successful say there is no reason to repay NSFAS because the scheme does not try to collect.
Morake started working in 2008 and said NSFAS has not attempted to reclaim any funds from her.
“They are not even trying to do anything, they aren’t even trying our phones, my number is the same number I used when I applied and they never even tried to call me,” Morake said.
They could’ve just used my ID number and the details of the people that owe them, then through that they can get us to pay back.
According to the NSFAS website, once a student starts working and earns more than R30 000 a year, they must pay back part of the loan. Meaning you would only pay back R900 a year on a salary of R30 000 a year, or R84 per month. A small price to pay considering the interest charged on the loan is subsidised at 80% of the rate that commercial banks would charge.
Students sign a legal contract to repay their loans and the scheme promises to “contact all students who graduate or stop studying to give consent for repayments to be deducted from their bank account every month,” according to the NSFAS website.
But this hasn’t been the experience of Morake: “I don’t think they tried to find me, I read somewhere in the papers that they were trying to find people but, because they are a government financial institution, if they wanted to catch us out, they could’ve gone to SARS, [SA Revenue Service]” she said.
“They could’ve just used my ID number and the details of the people that owe them, then through that they can get us to pay back,” she said.
Morake only knows how much she owes because of a statement she once saw at her cousin’s house in Croydon a few years ago. Her cousin has moved three times since then.
“My aunt also went through this programme, I think about seven years ago and she still hasn’t finished paying for it, so it’s just like donating money and no one sees where it’s going,” Morake said.
NSFAS receives a budget from government, which it then uses to provide a scholar with funds to pay for tuition, accommodation and books.
NSFAS was introduced by government in 1996 to provide poor matric-holders access to a university education. Students have their annual tuition paid and receive the rest of the amount for books and other course material as credit, not as cash, to avoid misuse.
NSFAS offers an income-dependent loan, meaning the student only begins to repay the loan once they start earning an income.
Morake received her undergraduate degree in corporate communications and development studies at the University of Johannesburg in 2008 and since then has worked at three different companies.
Her studies have resulted in her getting a job as a corporate communications consultant for a popular fast food franchise.
At the time she applied for NSFAS, Morake’s mother was unemployed and looked after their home in Alexandra township. Her dad could not afford to pay for her schooling as he did not earn much as a handyman and electrician.
I told them to send the banking details and stuff but they didn’t bother so I didn’t pay.
The cost of paying back a loan is burdensome, especially for an individual just entering the workforce and trying to start out their lives.
“When I first started working I worried, I said to myself, ‘okay, this is your first job, they said you have to pay them back or else they’ll find you’, so I called the call centre, they proofed my details then they told me I had to pay 10 percent of my salary and it was a ridiculous amount for me at the time,” Morake said.
Still, Morake told NSFAS to send her the relevant details to begin repaying her loan. However, the scheme never followed up with her.
“I told them to send the banking details and stuff but they didn’t bother so I didn’t pay,” she said.
“I just didn’t want to be the only one paying.”
Lerato is planning on studying further. She wants to do her honours in management but does not plan on using NSFAS again.
“This time I’ll pay for it myself, it would just be greedy otherwise,” she said.
*not her real name
Wits Vuvuzela, The devil wears NSFAS, February 27,
FIRST-YEAR BSc Astronomy and Astrophysics student Saul Hurwitz was born and bred in Johannesburg and wants to go to space one day. His plans for the year include passing and getting into his degree’s “restricted courses”.
Hurwitz also plays the piano and says his favourite constellation is Taurus, because that is his star sign.
Why did you choose this degree?
I definitely didn’t want to go into business and even though I considered a BA, I needed to think about the future and a career, so I chose this. By the end of this degree, I’ll either be able to go up into space or send stuff into space. So that’s pretty cool.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve learnt so far?
In physics, we learnt how to prove one of Einstein’s equations using dimensional analysis. It proves that the faster you go, the slower you age. But at our speed it kinda means nothing.
Is everything that happens in Interstellar accurate?
No [laughs]. It was very cool though! But, I wouldn’t try it at home, don’t fly into a black hole. Those guys were trained professionals, so they knew what they were doing.
What’s the best part of being at Wits?
The chips at Sizzlers. They’re incredible.
What’s your favourite science or science-fiction movie?
Interstellar, then Cloud Atlas, but I also like Predator. My all-time favourite would have to be Star Wars: Episode III though, because that’s when it all goes down.
What would you wear under your space-suit?
Can you even wear anything under a space-suit? I’d wear socks, because it probably would be really uncomfortable to not wear them. So, yeah, socks and underwear.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Advice is a form of nostalgia, unpacked from the dumpster of the brain, wiped off and sold for more than it’s worth. Basically, advice is crap.
WORK IT: First year BSc student Neo Khokhone stretches her work out
partner during bootcamp. Photo: Ilanit Chernick
Wits SRC campus wellness officer Jamie Mighti has challenged Witsies to “get fit” with the SRC’s fitness campaign.
The campaign, which launched on Monday in conjunction with Virgin Active aims to combat obesity and unhealthy lifestyles amongst students, and features a three-week fitness progam.
“We are trying to save lives and create long term longevity of Witsies,” Mighti said.
He encouraged Witsies to join the three-week exercise program as a way of enriching their lives and to create discipline.
“Gyming consistently creates a discipline that will trickle down into both your academic and social life,” he said.
Mighti told Wits Vuvuzela that students are careless about their health and fitness.
“It’s in our twenties when we mold our bodies. We pick up bad habits like smoking, drinking and reckless sex which can affect us for the rest of our lives.”
Mighti encouraged all students both fit and unfit to join because “something is better than nothing”.
“So far we’ve seen around 50 students attend the fitness training but we want to push this to at least 300 students.”
“It’s in our twenties when we mold our bodies. We pick up bad habits like smoking, drinking and reckless sex which can affect us for the rest of our lives.”
His vision together with the SRC is to see Wits becoming the “healthiest university in the world.”
Promoting healthy eating and engagement with physical, emotional and social wellness are on the agenda for this year.
“Wellness is going to be a massive criteria for the university. We want happy and healthy students on our campus.”
Mighti is also working on a “shared bicycle” initiative, which sees students being able to ride bikes around campus to different lecture halls especially when they are far from each other.
By the beginning of the second quarter, Mighti hopes that there will be at least 50 bikes on campus available for students to share-ride and use around campus.
Healthy eating on campus is also a major concern for Mighti. “We need to create a conscious awareness about healthy food especially at the vendors and the food halls at residence.”
“The university hasn’t been serious about health issues and it is time they walk-the-walk. They must take initiatives to improve health on our campus,” he said.
The fitness program will be taking place for the next two weeks on Monday and Friday from 6.30 am to 7.30 am on the Library Lawns.
BOOK SMART: Second-year student Bhaso Ndzendze reads a verse of his newly
published book Africa: The Continent We Construct. Photo: Ilanit Chernick
Bhaso Ndzendze is not your average 19-year-old.
The second year BA student already has a book professionally published. His book Africa: The Continent We Construct looks at how Africa attempts to define herself too much by comparing herself with the rest of the world.
Ndzendze wrote this book for the same reason “silkworms make silks” meaning that it is his “responsibility as an individual” to understand and make sense of the environment “in which we function” and be productive in it.
“As Africans we are still finding our feet,” he said.
The youngest of four brothers, Ndzendze grew up in both parts of KwaZulu-Natal and parts of the Eastern Cape and finally settled in Johannesburg when he was 16.
“My parents moved around a lot for work related reasons so when they moved we moved with them.”
“As Africans we are still finding our feet,” he said.
He describes his upbringing to be one of “pious Catholicism”.
Ndzendze who is currently studying psychology, politics and international relations at Wits hopes to be a journalist one day.
“If that doesn’t work out than I hope to be involved in public service. I want to get involved with charity organisations like UNICEF and the World Health Organisation to help make life easier for Africans.”
When Ndzendze is not writing books, he enjoys reading, writing poetry computer programming, listening to music and visiting museums and art galleries.
His vision for Africa is one that does not aim to settle its predecessors “score” but rather focuses on fighting for its’ children and its future.
“We should not be focusing on what we want and what was done to us, we should focus on what needs to be done,” he said.
Ndzendze has a strong message for Witsies and hopes they will “embrace equality and contribute for the betterment of our society”.
“Whatever you are doing, you should always act in a way where no harm will come from it.”
MUSIC ROYALTY: Cassper Nyovest leads the nomination pack with seven nominations.
By: Thembisile Dzonzi
ALL bets are in to see who will take top prize at the 2015 Metro FM Awards, which will be held this weekend.
The 14th annual Metro FM awards in Durban is an extravaganza themed “celebrating greatness”.
As one of the countries largest urban radio stations, Metro FM will be awarding South Africa’s hardest working artists of the past year with a prestigious silver trophy.
It seems Hip-hop is ruling the roost this year with rapper Cassper Nyovest having received six nominations, followed by AKA and K.O, who each received five. Newcomers Beatenberg also received five nominations, including Song of the Year and Best Group.
Wits Vuvuzela asked Witsies who they thought would be crowned King of the Metros by taking home the most awards. Cassper Nyovest is clearly a campus favourite, with a unanimous vote of confidence.
“I think Cassper, he has a broader appeal and he’s a lot more innovative in his music.”
“Between Cassper and AKA. I’m torn because they both had a good year, but I’ll go with Cassper,” said Bongiwe Mazibuka, a fourth year BA student in performing arts.
Aslam Bulbulia, a Development Planning Masters student, agreed and said,“I think Cassper, he has a broader appeal and he’s a lot more innovative in his music.”
Lebohang Tsotetsi, a first year BSc student said, “It will have to be Cassper, many people love him, even Kwesta said so. Plus he has so many hits.”
One of the most sought-after accolades of the awards is the Song of the Year category. Reactions on who would take home the award were mixed.
Third-year BA student, Lesego Kgado thought Call Out by DJ Fisherman should win.
“I think Fisherman because he had the number two song of the year,” Kgado said.
Tsotetsi predicted that it will be between Black Motion and Fisherman.
“It has to be Cassper Nyovest’s Doc Shebeleza. It was the song of the year last year,” added Mazibuka.
The award ceremony will be held at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre (Durban ICC) and will be broadcast live on SABC 1 at 8pm this Saturday, February 28.
STEWING BEEF: WITS’ cheapest eatery Kara Nichha’s has been accused of exploiting its employees after a failure to register them as employees. Photo: Palesa Tshandu
Rushing her way through a buttered six slice polony sandwich, she anxiously nibbles while taking breathes in between each bite to tell her story, “This is my tea time,” says *Primrose Moloi speedily.
Moloi has been an employee at Wits’ take-away restaurant, Kara Nichha’s for the past five years and has not yet been registered as an employee.
“I have not been registered and we work the whole day with one 30 minute lunch break and another 15 minute tea break,” said Moloi.
Moloi confirms that the Kara Nichha’s staff are solely made up of women who have to carry stock from the loading truck to the kitchen of the restaurant, which she describes as “wa kgathatsa” (tiring) referring to the labour intensive task.
“If something is missing even if it’s two samoosas, he makes us sign a document.”
Kaushik Mistry, manager at Kara Nichha’s denies that his workers have not been registered, saying that he has recently applied for them to be permanent employees so that they can receive benefits, and was told by the previous owner it would be confirmed in the next two weeks.
Mistry claims that the manager before him did not register the employees and confirmed the shop is still run by the same owner.
According to Moloi the staff are forced to sign a stock inventory document when a customer has changed an order to account for the stock.“If something is missing even if it’s two samoosas, he makes us sign a document.”
The Kara Nicha’s staff are each paid R540 per week, which Moloi complains is not enough to feed her family of five but says that the“issue is the same with the employees from the Chinese shops.”
An employee from Chinese Take-Away who has been working there for the past 10 years also complains about having no worker benefits.
“We don’t have a Provident Fund, no paid maternity leave. We work but there’s no set-aside time for lunch – we also don’t have UIF (unemployment insurance),” said an unnamed source. “What I would like to see, is for us to be registered, we are not permanent staff – but once someone dies no one receives anything,” said the unnamed source. She said another staff member passed away last year and his family did not receive remuneration from his employer and the workers could not go to his funeral because they were working.
Chesa Nyama employee Salina Motsoeng who has been working there for five months says the situation at their eatery is similar, as they are also employed on a contractual basis, but have signed a contract that stipulates that “if a person gets hurt during working hours – we are liable to cover their medical cost.”
Moloi said the general treatment of workers by Mistry at the eatery is not good, saying that he shouts at them in the presence of customers.
“Issue is the same with the employees from the Chinese shops.”
Mistry dismissed the question of the alleged exploitation of his employees saying, “No you can’t say it like that, we follow the law…whatever we need to do with the staff we are doing, so it’s not like we are doing nothing for them.”
*Primrose Moloi – not her real name
NO POWER: Outsourced electrical workers at Wits have not been paid since January and have not returned to work for several weeks. Photo: Roxanne Joseph
Electrical workers employed by a Wits contractor allege that they have not been paid for six weeks, but they will not be getting any help from the university administration.
The outsourced workers, who are employed by MJL Electrical, have complained to the Wits Legal Office and activist groups but have not yet seen their back pay.
Trouble started for the workers when they noticed they had not been paid for the month of December, with both their salaries and bonuses outstanding.
According to one of the workers, Aubrey Saku, they were eventually paid in early January, but not the full amounts they were owed. Since then, they have not seen a cent from MJL Electrial.
A three-way dispute
Prof Beatrys Lacquet, the deputy vice chancellor of infrastructure and operations at Wits, said the university has paid what it owes to MJL Electrical two weeks ago.
She said the responsibility for paying the workers is with MJL Electrical and not Wits.
“MJL management is responsible to run the company and comply with all legislation and regulations,” she told Wits Vuvuzela.
When reached for a response, MJL Electrical owner George Cresswold told Wits Vuvuzela that he does not want to comment on the dispute until he has met with the university and “given the process proper opportunity to take its course”.
“There is a solution,” he said. “And we are committed to making this work.”
A month later they were again not paid and have not worked since February 9.
The workers also allege that when they were paid for the month of December, they were not paid in full.
“We all worked for 10 days, but some of us were only paid for eight, or seven … We all had money deducted from our salaries,” Saku said.
Saku said Cresswold assured them they would be paid in full and the electricians continued to work for another month.
However, a month later they were again not paid and have not worked since February 9.
Cresswold again promised they would be compensated on Monday this week, but that deadline came and went without payment.
Chowing on taxes
The workers allege that Cresswold had been deducting tax from their salaries but they said they have never received IRP5 documents, the proof that their taxes had been paid to SA Revenue Service (SARS).
When confronted, workers said Cresswold admitted that he has never submitted their withheld money to SARS but promised he would, according to Saku.
“He has been chowing it,” Saku said.
The workers said in January that MLJ Electrical, which had been contracted for electrical repairs for the university, had run out of supplies which left them unable to do their jobs conducting necessary maintenance to Wits electrical system.
Lacquet said MJL is not the sole provider of electrical services at Wits and if they cannot do the job, the university had other outsourced companies at their disposal.
“If MJL cannot deliver a specific service at a time, Wits can get an alternate provider and vice versa regarding another service provider.”
The workers responded to the lack of materials and previous payment issues with a go-slow, at the beginning of January.
On Friday February 6, they arrived at work to find they had been locked out.
Cresswold continued to refuse to pay them and did not provide a reason, according to Saku.
Two weeks ago they were temporarily suspended.
During a meeting with the Wits Legal Office several days later, were told the process to suspend them had been unfair.
“We [the workers] were in the right … Cresswold said that we were striking, but we weren’t,” said Saku.
Wits Legal Office declined to comment to Wits Vuvuzela for this story.
Dr Shireen Ally of Sociology, an activist with the Wits Workers Solidarity Committee, told Wits Vuvuzela that after the university intervened, Cresswold and the workers reached a verbal commitment that the suspensions would be cancelled and the workers “indicated this was subsequently received in writing”.
However, Saku said they would not return to work until they have been paid.
The workers have returned to Wits a number of times to try and resolve the issue and are “frustrated” with not having been paid.
Additional reporting by Reuven Blingnault.