EFF to lead shutdown of Tshwane

EFF CIC, Julius Malema adressinf media at the headquarters in Braamfontein. Photo:Olwethu Boso

EFF CIC, Julius Malema addresses the media at the EFF headquarters in Braamfontein.     Photo: Olwethu Boso

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) commander in chief, Julius Malema has called upon South Africans to join the EFF in shutting down Tshwane.

Malema was speaking at a press briefing at the EFF headquarters in Braamfontein earlier today. He called on South Africans of all creeds and colours to unite in massive protest action in Tshwane on November 2, to defend South Africa’s democracy against state capture and strengthen the call for free education.

Malema said the EFF intends to shut down businesses in Tshwane for the day as the party works towards securing a list of demands.

The first demand that the party intends to make is that the South African government must provide free quality education at higher education level from 2017 onwards.

“Jacob Zuma must immediately step down as President and Head of State in South Africa as well as Shaun Abrahams‚ the NDPP of Zuma‚ must immediately step down from the National Prosecutions Authority,” said Malema.

Finally, the party will demand that the Guptas be disconnected from all state related contracts and must immediately leave South Africa.

Commenting on the current Fees Must Fall protests, Malema said he guarantees that the EFF would continue providing logistical, political, moral and legal support to student activists around the country.

“The only reaction the ANC is willing to give towards the conversation of free education is violent suppression,” he said about President Zuma setting up a task team which consists mainly of the security cluster.

During the briefing Malema announced that he was aware of the police outside the offices to serve him summons for things he had said in Mangaung in 2014.

“They are charging me with the attempt to hide their own inequities.”


Eight Wits students arrested during protest released on warning

The eight students that were arrested during protests on Monday  at Wits University were released today on warnings at Hillbrow Magistrates Court and will be required to reappear in court next month.

The charges brought against them include public violence, contravention of a court order, malicious damage to property, assault and possession of a dangerous weapon.

Fellow students and families sat behind the dock awaiting for student protesters Zimbali Ncube, Marola Mathabatha, Siyabonga Bongani Mathebula, Edwin Mokhali, Jonathan Paoli, Sabelo Melane and Thabiso Nhlapo to be called upon.

The courtroom responded in shock and tears were shed by loved ones as the  young men were handcuffed on entrance.

Court proceedings started out with the state opposing bail for the eight young men as some of their residential addresses were not verified.

But the students’ lawyers, Advocates Sizo Dlali and Andries Nkome argued successfully that since some addresses could not be immediately verified then their proof of registration would suffice as evidence that they were not flight risks.

Accused number two, Zimbali Ncube, would have spent another night in custody as the verification of his address was not as successful as the others. Magistrate Herman Visser was adamant that he did not want any student to stay in custody unnecessarily.

The state then proposed that each student be released on R1000 bail but this was argued against by Nkome.

“I don’t want to start sounding like a broken record your Honour but these students cannot afford bail,” argued Nkome. The students are still dependant on guardians and parents he said.

The magistrate then released them on a warning. As the eight walked out cheers could be heard outside and fellow students welcomed them in song.

However, The Wits 8 are to return to court on November 2 as the police are said to still be investigating their cases.


Bomb scares and flooding at Wits

Following two days of violent clashes between police and student protesters, Wits university spokesperson, Shirona Patel has confirmed that a total of six petrol bombs have been found on campus since last night.

Three petrol bombs were found on West campus on Wednesday morning. “The bombs were found in a backpack by Raikes Gate,” she said.

Last night two petrol bombs were found outside John Moffatt building and another was in the basement of the architecture building. It was set alight but authorities managed to contain and extinguish the fire.

Campus control called in the SAPS at about 5:30am on Wednesday after they had found the backpack containing the 3 three petrol bombs in a dustbin said SAPS spokesperson, Brigadier Sally de Beer.

“The discovery of petrol bombs on campus is an indicator of people wanting to incite violence,” said de Beer.

De Beer could not confirm what case had been opened but said that it could possibly be of public violence. The police investigation continues.

The university also confirmed that on Tuesday there was a false alarm resulting in students being evacuated after reports surfaced that a bomb had been found on campus – it later turned out to be a fire cracker.

Taps in the Central Block bathrooms were left open overnight which led to flooding in the area.

Ten years of photographer Zanele Muholi’s ‘Faces and Phases’

Photo series participant, Lerato Dumse through her phases. Photo: Olwethu Boso

Photo series participant, Lerato Dumse through her phases.                               Photo: Olwethu Boso

Visual artist and photographer Zanele Muholi’s new exhibition, Faces and Phases, centered around queer bodies opened on Thursday at the Stevenson Gallery in Johannesburg.

The exhibition opening comes two days after South Africa marked a decade since the introduction of the Civil Union Bill in the National Assembly. The bill legalised same-sex marriage and civil partnership throughout South Africa.

“It feels like I’m a part of something great, part of history even though at the time I didn’t know it would be this big,” said Shirley Ndaba, a participant who has been documented by Muholi over the past ten years as part of the Faces and Phases project.

Muholi admitted that working on a series of this magnitude can be emotionally and physically exhausting but is humbled by the participants as they have taken risks with this project. Some come from oppressive African countries when it comes to gender and sexual rights and have dedicated their faces and time to the series.

The internationally-award winning photographer is currently focused in producing follow-up photos of her participants as they encounter the new phases and progress in their lives.

Muholi marks the course of each of her participants’ growth by exhibiting the initial portraits alongside those recently taken, allowing for a continuation in the storytelling of her participants – as she refers to them – lives and journeys. The photographs feel confrontational, the subjects stare into the eyes of the viewer as though to ask, “why are you looking at me?”

“‘Faces’ express the person, and ‘Phases’ signify the transition from one stage of sexuality or gender expression and experience to another. ‘Faces’ is also about the face-to-face confrontation between myself as the photographer/activist and the many lesbians, women and transwomen and transmen I have interacted with from different places,” said Muholi.

Wits virtual learning leap

LEARNING LEAP: Wits launches suite of free online courses. Photo:Stock Image

LEARNING LEAP: Wits launches suite of free online courses.                               Photo:Stock Image

Wits University has become the first university in Africa to develop and offer online courses with global virtual learning platform edX.

The collaboration is the first of its kind between a major international Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) provider and an African university.

Wits will introduce these free MOOCs between August and October, with plans to have short courses and full online degrees available next year.

Director of the Centre for Learning, Teaching and Development, and Head of WitsX, Prof Christine Woods, said that the idea to go virtual with education is because the “university aims to increase access to higher education and promote an ‘anywhere, anytime and any device’ approach to learning, as well as increase the institution’s educational footprint locally, nationally and internationally”.

A 2010 World Bank report on financing tertiary education in Africa reported that the total number of students pursuing higher education in Africa tripled between 1991 and 2006, from 2.7-million to 9.3-million. The edX and Wits partnership will help bridge this gap by delivering education opportunities to students on the continent and beyond.

Woods said the online courses will be designed in such a way that learning materials and assessments will be downloadable when the student has internet access allowing them to continue studying ‘offline’.

The three courses offered, namely System Dynamics for Health Sciences, Research Methods: An Engineering Approach and Results-based Project Management: Monitoring and Evaluation will be niche courses that reflect Wits’ expertise in specific areas and respond to particular challenges in the country such as healthcare education.

“This is a pioneering, innovative project that is unlocking new opportunities for South African universities. We will continue to develop course content to enable students from around the world to access our international expertise in fields ranging from the paleo-sciences to infectious diseases and deep-level mining,” said Professor Adam Habib, Vice-Chancellor of Wits University via a statement released by the institution.

The MOOCs offered by WitsX are free (https://www.edx.org/school/witsx), although a certificate of completion can be purchased for approximately $49 (approximately R720.00 at the current exchange rate).

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Wits becomes first African partner of leading online course provider

Cool kid on campus

Coolest kid on the block Mamello Thulare Photo:Olwethu Boso

Coolest kid on the block: Mamello Thulare                  Photo:Olwethu Boso

Look no further, there is a new cool kid on the block. Mamello Thulare, 21, is a third year LLB (Law) student, Golden Key member and women empowerment activist at Wits University.

Thulare, founder of #BeingAWildflower, admits that the concept for the outreach campaign came about because of her own lack of self-worth and self-esteem as a young woman. She realised that she is not the only female that is faced with this issue.

“The greatest fight every woman faces is the one against herself. On how she looks, what she thinks people think of her and where she sees herself in the future,” says Thulare. #BeingAWildflower focuses on building a sense of self-worth and self-actualisation in order to develop young women so they may reach a level of contentment with themselves. The organisation launches at the end of July with a discussion “aimed at addressing the ‘pull-her-down’ syndrome that women are faced with.”

Thulare says she hopes she can get #BeingAWildflower to eventually reach out to women in the corporate sector and especially within the law fraternity where there are a number of females who pull each other down in order to climb the corporate ladder.

“Women need to build each other especially in such environments which impact their success and lives,” says Thulare.

Outreach is something close to Thulare’s heart, as she is also on the organising committee for the South Point CEO Sleepout that will be taking place in a few weeks’ time. This initiative aims to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless and hopes to collect clothes and food.