Former Wits manager arrested in US

Former Wits manager arrested in US

A former senior manager from the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute (WRHI) was arrested last week in the United States on allegations of money laundering.

The university would not reveal the identity of the manager but according to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) statement he has been identified as Dr. Eugene Sickle.

The Dr. was arrested in Washington DC in connection with misappropriation of funds of HIV/AIDS programmes in South Africa being supported and funded by USAID. Approximately USD 230 000, about three million in South African rands was misused.

Wits University released a statement saying the bulk of the funds would be covered by insurance and that the “project will not suffer any reduction in funding and there will be no direct loss to USAID.”

Dr. Sickle resigned last year from his position as Deputy Executive Director for the WRHI program following discovery of his potential involvement in the submission of fraudulent documents to WRHI by a third party. When he was questioned about this, he immediately resigned from his position.

According to Wits University spokesperson, Shirona Patel, as a precautionary measure, the WRHI have undertaken to review all grants and activities and no other irregularities have been found.

A criminal case has also been opened against him with the South African Police Services.

Cool kid on campus

Cool kid on campus


Being bold: Dancer, Xola Phakane shows his fierceness for the camera.                                   Photo: Olwethu Boso

Lights! Camera! Action! This is the life Wits first year student Xola Phakane has become accustomed to as a professional dancer and make-up artist.

The twenty year old studying towards a BA (Music) degree, hails from Meadowlands Zone 6, Soweto, exudes sass and has an energetic aura to him.

Growing up his mother didn’t want him to pursuit dancing but his persistance saw him grow as a professional dancer to working with the likes of one of South Africa’s most talented choreographers and entertainers, Somizi Mhlongo.

Xola, or rather Sasha as he prefers to be called on stage, had his first professional dancing gig at the 2010 Soccer World Cup opening ceremony stage, where, as a child from the streets of Meadowlands, he met the likes of R Kelly and other celebrities he’d only ever seen on television but never dreamt he could ever share a stage with. Last year, Phakane toured the country as a dancer with gospel group Joyous Celebration.

Phakane says he is inspired the most by his people, gay people, and the LGBTI community as a whole because “these are people who’ve struggled to find themselves in society and to be accepted. We all fight for acceptance.”


Parkour: the art of movement

Parkour: the art of movement

ALL TIME HIGH: Dyllon Davidson leaps for the wall by Wartenweriller Library, Wits University

ALL TIME HIGH: Dyllon Davidson leaps for the wall by Wartenweriller Library, Wits University

He looks at the distance to the bottom and at the wall in front of him, visibly making mental calculations. He walks back to the low-standing wall behind him and prepares himself for the jump.

He leans forward on the balls of his feet, makes a run for the wall, every part of him poised for a leap. In the blink of an eye, Dyllon Davidson shoots into the air, and ends up clinging onto the wall by the Wartenweiller Library, no suction gloves in sight, just his calloused hands grasping at the rough-surfaced wall.

Students watch and gasp in awe at the Spiderman-like display.

Most of us walk around Wits university’s main campus only seeing the buildings for what they are, cold concrete, but there is a group of people who see these buildings and its surroundings as a playground, a concrete jungle-gym of sorts.

These people are Parkour practitioners. Parkour is a form of training that was developed in the 1980s in France. The sport involves flips, vaulting, jumping, swinging and other movements to get from one spot to another.

Angelique Reichel who started out training a year and a half ago says that the sport teaches you to distinguish between healthy fear and crippling fear. “You learn what your limits are and how far you can push yourself. If your gut feeling tells you not to take the jump or flip then you learn to work with that and understand where it’s coming from.”

Parkour is about training the human body to be able to overcome any obstacle that it comes across, a survival mentality and freerunning is about moving efficiently while doing it in an expressive way. “They are both examples of the two sides of the coin of movement, because we move to get from a to b or we move to express ourselves,” says Davidson, co-founder and trainer of Concrete Foundation Crew.

Even the stunts you see in movies are put together by parkour athletes such as Davidson, who has worked with a number of movies in the past couple of years, namely, Resident Evil, Mad Max and The Avengers, to name a few.

Davidson says Wits University has been one of, if not the only, university in South Africa to be supportive of the sport by allowing athletes onto its campus to train and “jam”.


Bid farewell to me

Bid farewell to me

Let me say upfront, I’ve never been to a soccer match in my life! So there I was on Tuesday evening, sitting on a wet audience stand (I think that’s what they call it), at Bidvest Stadium, Wits University watching home side Wits hammering Ajax Cape Town. While the big bosses and co. sat in a fenced off area on cushioned seats shielded from the rain wearing their team’s regalia, I was not a happy camper at all.

My editor asked me to make this piece a “how to survive guide” but to be honest, I barely survived the game myself, so that option’s out the window.

As a first timer at a live soccer game I was accompanied by a colleague, who, like myself was a first timer, but, unlike me she seemed excited for what the evening had in store. I suspect that being able to document the moment on Snapchat, selfies and all, was what kept her sane throughout the game.

WALK-OVER:Wits hammered Ajax Cape Town by 5-0 on home ground

WALK-OVER:Wits hammered Ajax Cape Town by 5-0 on home ground

If you are not a fan of noise, I suggest you stay away from watching games at the stadium. You hear the same noise on the TV but there is nothing that compares to hearing it live and in person. The Bidvest brass band kept the tunes rolling in throughout the game despite the noise from the crowd but I am convinced that this kind of assault on the senses should come with a warning of sorts.

On the field, everyone was running up and down under the lights, and, every once in a while, a ball ‘accidentally’ goes in followed by a crowd going wild. I say ‘accidentally’ because have you ever noticed how surprised the players themselves are when that ball hits the back of the net? You mean to say you were not expecting it to go in when you kicked the ball? Talk about pure luck!

I couldn’t but notice the high numbers of couples at the game. I actually think I had missed the memo for date night. I watched a couple sit down with their snacks and the woman sat next to her boyfriend trying to converse here and there, while said boyfriend immersed himself in the game. And they say cell phones kill relationships?

In all honesty though, I found that as much as I was supposed to watch the goings on, on the pitch, I was more entertained by everything else around me but the game. I cannot even tell you who scored the first goal or the last of the match never mind the ones in between, all I know is that our side won. This is as much of a match report that I could file, maybe next time will be better.