Bomb scares and flooding at Wits

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’

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

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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