Wits Alumni Momo Matsunyane is a theatre practioner, actress, director and the co founder of the comedy sketch group, Thenx.
THENX BATHONG: Wits Alumni Momo Matsunyane is a theatre practioner, actress, director and the co founder of the comedy sketch group, Thenx. Photo: Michelle Gumede
What is Thenx??
Thenx is a sketch comedy group which was created in 2008. We wanted to create a voice for ourselves through which we could address pertinent socio-economic and political issues affecting us as the youth.
What’s the one thing you hate about Thenx/directing/acting?
It can be very demanding when we hit a creativity block while in process, but somehow the work is always ready on time. There’s also the desire to tell your story in the best way possible in order for it to affect your audience in the most successful way – that’s why sometimes when an idea isn’t coming together it can be very frustrating.
Your last piece Kulneck was controversial, was that the intention?
Yes. Otherwise why are doing this? We need to remember though that it’s not just about controversy, the play was addressing some touchy issues about race, women, relationships, poverty and religion. These are things that everyone talks about and the play brought them to the surface, we weren’t trying to sugar-coat anything. We wanted to make people uncomfortable get them to deal with these issues. That’s the main function of art, to make us question life and the systems that govern us, as well as to get people talking and probing.
Can you tell us about this new genre you are pioneering?
It’s not really a new genre but more a hybrid of stand-up and sketch – it was meant for the show Kulneck which ran at POPArt Theatre. I was trying to package the show in a way that would slightly differ from the conventional methods we have seen with stand-up comedy performances. It’s interesting, however, that a lot of the audience felt like they hadn’t seen something like that before so maybe it’s a bit futuristic.
The arts scene in SA is struggling and artists aren’t taken seriously. How do we, as a country correct this?
It’s so disheartening to see artists battling similar challenges to those they fought against 20 years ago. I’m realising that artists need to start taking themselves more seriously. By that I mean, we need to stop doing work for free in the name of exposure. The industry needs to regulate who can act and who can’t by establishing whether people are qualified to be in this field. In the same way that I can’t wake up one day and decide to perform heart surgery on a patient as I’m not a qualified surgeon.
How do you choose to take up a role?
It needs to appeal to my aims as an artist and affirm what I stand for artistically, whilst adding value to my craft. At times, one ends up taking work for the sake of putting food on the table due to the increase in non-performers who get more work than qualified ones because they’re ‘cheaper’ or more popular on social media.
A feeding scheme on campus is tackling hunger among students in a big way (more…)
Protest action in Braamfontein causes violent disruptions with rocks hurled at bystanders. (more…)
The deadline for students who signed the waiver form is fast approaching, students have until March 31 to sort out their financial arrangements with the university .
TIME IS MONEY: Students have less than a month to get their finances sorted. Photo: Michelle Gumede
The nearly 9 000 students who signed a contract to waive their registration fee at the beginning of the year have less than a month to pay their debt of R 9340.
Students who had provisional offers for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding for 2016, those with external bursaries and those with a Wits University scholarship did not have to make upfront payments for registration at the beginning of this year.
Instead, students who didn’t have adequate funding at the beginning of the year signed an Acknowledgement of Debt (AOD) form which stated that they are entering into an arrangement for the payment of the upfront fee as well any interest from the date of the signature.
Some of the original signatories of the acknowledgement of debt have since been helped and funded by the SRC’s #Access Campaign and some have since appealed and received approval for NSFAS.
But many students have not been so lucky.
“I’m thinking of deregistering because there is nothing I can do,” says Onkarabile Mokoto, a returning third-year student who signed the contract to waive his registration at the beginning of this year.
Mokoto was previously studying at Wits towards a Bachelor of Education degree from 2008. The young man from Kagiso, in Mogale City on the west of Johannesburg, was previously able to afford his tuition through the NSFAS and the Gauteng Department of Education bursary. He dropped out of university in 2010 due to “personal reasons.”
But Mokoto did not inform his faculty that he would not be continuing with the rest of the academic calendar for 2010 and his marks for that year resulted in academic exclusion.
“Because of lack of knowledge I didn’t know I was supposed to do that [deregister].”
Due to his previous record of exclusion NSFAS rejected his application for funding for 2016 even though he does qualify for NSFAS. With the help of the SRC, Mokoto went through the appeals process but his appeal was also rejected in mid-February. He has since been left with no option but to deregister. Mokoto says although the SRC were initially helping him to secure funding, in the end there was not much that SRC did for his cause.
“They told me to focus on my studies and try to look for other funds.” Mokoto says.
According to a statement put out by the university in January, students who cannot pay registration in full by March 31 should notify the university by completing and concluding an AOD before the end of March.
Provided a student has done that, and fulfils their obligations as set out in the AOD, they will not be charged additional interest on any amounts outstanding in respect of tuition fees.
According to the fees office, all students who have not settled their accounts by March 31 are legible to pay a 1.3% interest on their balance, whether they have signed the AOD or not.
But for students like Mokoto who haven’t been able to secure funds the situation looks dire. He says he plans to deregister because he cannot pay the registration, and cannot afford his textbooks. Mokoto told Wits Vuvuzela that even as he signed the waiver he had no idea of where to get the money to pay his fees.
Vice chancellor Adam Habib told Wits Vuvuzela that he was concerned that if fees are not paid, the university will not be able to keep the lights on. “I wish I didn’t have to charge fees,” says Habib.
Habib said the university was underfunded by the state, with only R1.4-billion in funding coming from the government while it costs R3.4-billion to operate the university.
Habib said that those students who signed an acknowledgement of debt saying that they were going to have the money by the March 31 have to pay, and if they can’t, it means they signed the form under misleading conditions.
According to the SRC’s general secretary, Fasiha Hassan, the university cannot deregister students due to financial exclusion. Only students can deregister themselves.
“No student can be deregistered unless you are academically excluded,” says Hassan.
Rape- A South African nightmare is a book that is written by Professor Pumla Gqola, the launch was on campus this week.
AFRICAN Literature Professor Pumla Gqola finally had her book launch at the event hosted by the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) after delays caused by student protests of 2015.
Chaired by African Literature lecturer, Dr Danai Mupotsa, the panel discussion included poet and historian, Sarah Godsell and Malebo Gololo, of the Developmental Studies and International Relations department sharing their viewpoints on how rape is perceived.
“This book is the kind of writing that is dense with thinking feeling,” says Mupotsa.
The book explores various issues associated with rape. Rape—A South African nightmare considers rape and unpacks the complex historical relationships that South African men and women have with rape.
Gqola says she tried to contribute to a shift to end gender-based violence in society, like who we hold accountable. “All of us have a beloved who is a rapist,” says Gqola.
She highlights that rapists are usually people who are well known to the victim and this often intensifies the complex relationship between the perpetrator and the victim. Gqola’s research explores the notion that rapists sometimes have backgrounds involving abuse and sexual violence. “I wanted to contribute differently, to think about how rape victimises. We make it unacceptable to claim victim status” she explained.
SPEAKING OUT: Sarah Godsell spoke about sexual harassment claims made by students and staff on campus. Photo: Michelle Gumede
The book also looks at high-profile rape trials and accusations of President Jacob Zuma, Bob Hewitt, Makhaya Ntini and Baby Tshepang. The book also takes on the notion that rapists are only poor and violent men. She highlights various rape cases that involve well off men as the perpetrator, including the case of South African president Jacob Zuma.
Gqola says when she wrote the book she was sick and tired of being sore about rape and how much time it took up in her life.
“I felt increasingly that everyone was talking about rape and those conversations were very different from the ones I was having,” says Gqola.
Godsell in her presentation read the moving poetry of Thandokuhle Mngqibisa and she spoke at length about how it is also important to talk about the violence on our campuses. “There have been accusations of sexual harrassment at the hands of private security. These accusations have been discredited, ignored and silenced.” says Godsell. She said that instead campus should be a safe space for all, a space for everyone to be able to speak openly about their experiences with harassment.
Mupotsa shared with the audience that a student had told her that an unknown man came up to her on Monday and said, “When I look at your eyes I’m already fucking you”.
“We live in a society where rape is normalised and there are no consequences for raping,” Gqola says.
The book seems to have been well received by members of the audience in attendance at the talk. There were serious engagements going on with what the book discusses whilst others proposed solutions to dealing with rapists in South African communities, like socially shaming rapists or bringing back the death penalty with “lynching”.
Some of the audience members spoke to Wits Vuvuzela about the event.
“I came to the launch to enhance my knowledge about patriarchy,” says Ugandan student Ibrahim Tamale, who is currently studying African philosophies at the African Youth Academy.
Predatory publishers are stealing the intellectual property of postgraduates and the university.
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY THIEVES: Predatory publishers stalk postgraduate students for their academic papaers and then rip them off. Photo: Michelle Gumede
Postgraduate students have been warned about “predatory publishers” who lure academics eager to publish and charge them fees while making money from the published work.
“They’re essentially making money off free material,” says Wits Wartenweiler scholarly communications librarian, Denise Nicholson.
Nicholson is part of the Wits Open Access movement which seeks to create an alternative to for-profit academic publishing by removing copyright and licensing barriers to academic work.
Nicholson says that “predatory publishers” exploit students and academics who want their work published.
These predators go on the hunt at African institution repositories where they harvest already freely available dissertations and theses from open access websites. Wits has such a repository where all academic theses and dissertations go up and can be openly accessed.
The predatory publishers then write to the author congratulating them, saying they would like to publish their work. When the unsuspecting victim agrees the process of “publishing” commences.
They sometimes promise royalties, which Nicholson says postgrad students never get.
“All they do is put a cover on it. They don’t edit it or take it for peer reviewing,” Nicholson said.
“You never hear from them again as a student,” she adds.
Librarian and Open Access activist, Jefferey Beall explains in his online videos how predatory publishers are exploiting the open access model to trick authors.
Beall highlights six ways to identify predatory open access journal publishers. These include last minute author fees and no formal editorial review boards.
Normal publishers have a set of criteria with which candidates have to adhere to. Firstly, they accept papers, they don’t generally go looking for papers. They also use editorial boards and peer review.
Predatory publishers disregard all international standards and codes.
There are accredited journals which the Department of Higher Education and Training endorses. The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), an online directory that indexes high quality journals, lists over 11 000 journals and over 2 million articles. These are high impact journals that are recognised internationally and where authors receive grants or subsidies for their work. The university also receives a sum of money every time a student publishes in one of the listed accredited journals.
“That funds more research,” adds Nicholson.
Nicholson recommends that students who receive invitations to publish with disreputable publishers to write back to them saying “thank you” for the invitation but the intellectual property belongs to Wits and they should contact the university.
Nicholson adds that asking for payment for publishing work is not limited to predatory publishers. She says there are reputable publishers who will charge anything from US$2 000 to US$15 000.
“Recently, one lady who is an academic here paid R34 000 for an article,” Nicholson said.
Students and academics who contribute to academic books can also get royalties when they use a reputable publisher.
According to a publishing assistant at Van Schaik, Thokozile Machika, with academic publishing there is often more than one author and very often the book is the brain child of the editors and publisher. Contributors are chosen according to the specialty, course they teach, and institution the work for.
“So naturally editors get a little more than every ones else because they came up with the idea and the have to work through all the chapters,” says Machika.
According to Machika, most companies allocate a percentage per chapter for royalties. For example if an author is offered 2% per chapter and they write two chapters they get 4% of the royalty cut.
On Wednesday this past week, the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research kicked off its year with a conversation regarding the role female student journalists played in the protest. The talk was titled “Inter sectional writing in times of protest: Conversations with young woman journalists”
February is commonly known as the month of love. But for me, love is not only about red roses, fancy dinners and cuddly teddy bears. Love is what spurs us on to act on some of our deepest passions. Love, for one’s people and the world, is the basis of all revolutions.
South Africans are a people fueled by passion. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we are the model state with no foibles, psychopaths or greedy leaders. We are far from it. But we love. For the most part we love our food, our cultures, our soccer teams and our music. But most of all we love our constitution so much that we witnessed over 2 000 people marching to the Constitutional Court in defence of our Public Protector and our constitution this week.
Love is a peculiar thing. It ignites a flame in the hearts of those it imposes itself upon, breathing hope into the minds of the numb and giving a renewed sense of courage and self-sacrifice in the souls of the weary. Love fuels humanity’s drive to better itself in a system that is designed to belittle it.
Apartheid was a system that the National Party preferred to describe as a way of self-preservation. Preserving Afrikaaner culture, language and the material wealth that they violently acquired. As sick as it sounds, it’s a gluttonous love of self that fuelled the colonial project of separate development.
On the other hand it is also love that gave Bantu Steven Biko the will to write what he liked. Love spurred Hector Peterson on to march towards the bullets that fatally martyred him. Much like how love urged the miners of Marikana, and the students of the #RhodesMustFall movement to stand up for what they believe in. Love can bring people together for a diverse range of reasons, no matter how strange and taboo they might be.
The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual community has had to endure prejudice, persecution, rape and abuse to be able to openly love. While Black girls still need to explain why they want to have safe spaces solely for themselves. Across the continent states are still illegitimatising homosexuality and ostracising those who love to love other people.
It is a love for education that kept students in South Africa marching on even in the blistering sun, protesting for free education during the #FeesMustFall protests. It is a love for our living environment that keeps activist groups ready to defend (and sometimes remedy) some of the wrongs done to the earth. And it is love for our fellow man that has sparked mass outcry against the killings in Palestine, Black America and Burundi.
Eusebius McKaiser once told a class I was in, “don’t be afraid of your own biases.” And we shouldn’t be afraid to love. If we had to take notes on love, comradery and passion, they are the excellent lessons to be taken from our global history. If there’s one thing I wish everyone on Valentine’s Day, its that we may all find something that moves us and we are passionate about. Something to love.
By Thabiso Modiba
My name is Thabiso Modiba and I grew up with my two sisters, mother and father in rural Limpopo, Mabopane district. And I’m the only guy, the first-born. It was tough, with no electricity and running water, life is tough. The only truck that brings water is the one from the municipality that comes once a week. You have to take a bucket and go queue for water.
Since I was young, I have always wanted to be a doctor. When I was young, my mother got sick. We were living in a rural village and whenever we’d go to the clinic they’d say, “The doctors not here”, sometimes for days. I would get angry because my mom would be very sick and there was no doctor to help her. But when you come here, to the city, there are many. But that side where I’m living they are scarce.
HIGH HOPES: If he can find the money to pay for his tuition Thabiso Modiba hopes to become a medical doctor one day. Photo: Michelle Gumede
My father earns about R5900 and sometimes is working at a construction company that deals with tenders. They build schools and those sort of things.
I don’t wanna lie, I never slept that day before matric results came out. I was watching TV on the fifth and they were announcing the results officially. There’s no electricity in the area but we take chances and connect cables, just so we can get an update on what’s happening with the matric results.
Through the post office, I applied in 2015 to five universities UP, UL, UJ, SMU and Wits. I got the application form to come to Wits from my father. He knows one of the security guards from Wits. I posted applications and the money required for each too. Costs differ from tertiary to tertiary, at Wits it was about the R100 and other universities it was R200 or R300. It’s like betting for the lotto, you don’t know when or where you’re going to win.
I was stressed on January 6 because Wits had said they’d send me an sms as soon as the matric results came out. I was anxious about how my results were gonna be. I was praying the whole day and night.
In the morning I got my results from my school, but still no sms from Wits. I preferred Wits because the communication was good. They communicated with me throughout the year through email. The other universities just sent me sms’s saying they acknowledge my application and will await my matric results. They also said that I have to submit my results face to face, whereas Wits just got them through the system.
So I was panicking. It was only on January 7 when I received an email from Wits with an offer to study chemical engineering and medicine. I accepted medicine so they said I must come and pay the registration fees of about R9340 before the day of enrolment.
Immediately, I called some of my relatives, for money. They were happy because my matric results were good, so they managed to put the money together for registration plus R400 for a bus.
I arrived in Johannesburg for the very first time in my life on Thursday January 8. My father who was in Soweto at the time had no idea where Wits was, so I had to ask people for directions at Park Station. They told me to walk to Bree then I would find the campus after crossing Nelson Mandela Bridge. I walked this by foot with my R9340 registration fee in my bag. That’s when I found myself in Wits. The big buildings were intimidating, I was afraid. I’m a rural boy and it’s the first time that I saw so many different people in such a busy place.
HALF WAY THERE: Modiba has registered at Wits but is yet to come up with the money for tuition. Photo: Michelle Gumede
When I got here I was directed to the enrolment center where I was shown to the financial office. I paid registration and made my four-hour trip home. When I left Wits I was a little bit happy because it was promising that I’m in. I got home and my parents were panicking that I’d just paid and only been told to come back to Wits on Monday. You know when parents pay money they want to see proof that something is happening. R9340 is a lot of money, they’ve never had that kind of money in their hands before.
On Monday I had to wake up early in the morning to catch the 4am bus so I could be here by seven. When I got to Hall 29, students had blocked the way saying #FeesMustFall. We were told to go back home or do it online. Eish, I felt like the world was turning against me because I came from so far. I didn’t understand what was going on and neither did my parents when I called them to tell them. I went back home again coz there was no place to stay so I had to spend more money.
At home my parents didn’t trust what I said about the strike, they thought I was deliberately wasting money.
MONEY WOES: His parents didn’t trust what he said about the #FMF2016 strike, they thought he was deliberately wasting money. Photo: Michelle Gumede
On Tuesday, January 12, I got an email saying I could come and fetch my student card anytime and I heard from the news that registration was happening on Wednesday. I was there preparing money to travel again. It was only because I did so well at school that even my high school teachers and neighbors helped to put together money. They just want to see me at Wits doing medicine.
I arrived in Joburg at 8am on January 14, collected my student card and registration bag. I’m happy but worried at the same time.
Although I applied for funding from NSFAS they said I don’t qualify. I also applied for funds at the Limpopo Department of Health last year and the Motsepe Foundation this year but I still don’t have funds for my tuition and accommodation. I’m gonna be contacting the department telling them that I got accepted at Wits, maybe they can help me and speed up my application. I have until February 8. If fees had fallen maybe it would be better.
As told to Michelle Gumede
Update: The university has since vehemently denied claims of any students being assaulted. See the full statement here .
By Masego Panyane and Michelle Gumede
About 60 private security guards were used to evacuate protesting students from Solomon House concourse in an act protesters have called disproportionate
Around 60 private security guards in riot gear were used to “moerskont” and remove nine protesting students in the early hours of Tuesday morning from Solomon House, according to the students.
HIRED FORCE: The university hired private security in riot gear to evict protesting FeesMustFall students. Photo: Michelle Gumede
“They moerskonted us to a point where we could not see,” said Wits Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) chairperson Vuyani Pambo.
The students, who are part of the Wits #FeesMustFall movement, have been occupying Solomon House, also known as Senate House, since January 3. The students had said their demands have not yet been met by Wits management and as a result, they would not move.
According to the students, in the early hours of Tuesday, Michael Mahada of Campus Control woke them up and read them a notice signed by Prof Tawana Kupe, deputy vice chancellor for advancement, human resources and transformation. The notice said the students need to evacuate the premises by the end of business on the previous day, Monday, January 11. Campus Control also had in their possession, dossiers on four of the protestors which had pictures and personal information of the students.
The students were given five minutes to leave Solomon House but they refused. The six Campus Control security guards who had been present throughout the night then stepped back and the private security guards, wearing body armour, wielding plastic shields and batons, sprang into action. Two separate groups of security entered the building from two different sides, physically throwing students out of the building and taking their cellphones. See the footage of the eviction here
BRINGING OUT THE BIG GUNS: Armed private security could be seen at various locations on east campus. Photo: Michelle Gumede
“In that 30 – 45 minutes, they started locking up the exits but they wanted us to leave,” said one of the protestors, who did not want to be named for fear of victimisation.
When questioned, one of the private security guards told Wits Vuvuzela that he was struck on the head with a bottle by one of the students. A protestor claims that this was in self-defence and they started using anything from the dustbins outside Senate House in order to keep the private security guards who had been physically assaulting them at bay.
Students were chased all the way to the parking outside Men’s Res area where they were then cordoned off.
Student protestors also said that female protesters had been grabbed around their breasts by private security guards evicting them from Solomon House.
Amadla!: Wits EFF Student Command leader Vuyani Pambo addressing protesting students and workers outside the cordoned off Great Hall. Photo: Michelle Gumede
When asked about this a private security guard responded: “When you are removing people from a space, you are not checking where the lady’s breasts are.”
On SABC’s Morning Live today, Vice Chancellor Adam Habib said that the university cannot be held hostage by twenty odd students.
The university’s senior executive team sent out a statement confirming that students were evicted because they “effectively disrupted the university’s registration process yesterday.” The statement goes on to say the occupation was an infringement of the rights of students who wanted to register and that face to face registration will continue on January 13.
Joburgers are serious about going green, it’s not just the latest fad. It’s an alternative hipster lifestyle that separates the the cool peeps from the (global) warmers. It’s safe to say Joburg is not just a pretty city, its an environmentally sensitive zone. And green is definitely the new black in the city of gold. Its going greener everyday and most of the city’s inhabitants embracing global cooling in very cool ways.
Many cool peeps in Jozi wear vintage or second hand clothing. Thrift markets are popping up everywhere and Joburgers love them because they are affordable and trendy. Thrifting allows styles to be shared and limits to be broken. At such affordable prices, why not.
Shopping the green way
Shopping malls are getting greener and greener, one such space is 27Boxes. This mall is made of shipping containers, it has an edgy and sleek look that will make any shopper happy to spend money there.
SHOPPING THE GREEN WAY: Jozi shoppers, enjoy shopping the environmentally friendly way. Photo: Michelle Gumede
Snazzy shopping bags
Reusable shopping bags can be seen hanging off the shoulders of the trendiest peeps in Joburg, from celebrities to ordinary Witsies. These bags are fashionable and eco friendly- made from recycled materials.
GEORGEOUS RUBBISH: Trendy shopping bags made from recyclable materials are hot in Jozi. Photo: Michelle Gumede
All naturelle body care
Earth friendly body products are the “in” thing for the ladies of Joburg. The Africology range of beauty products is popular because not only is it cheap but they use natural ingredients to make their lathering body creams and scrubs. Having started their company in Johannesburg, the brand can now be found in hotels and spas across the world.
Healthy eating is healthy living
Most peeps in Joburg enjoy eating healthy because ‘green’ food is no longer rabbit food. Restaurants like Kauai are creating tasty and trendy meals for the everyday person. They have awesome smoothies made from “super foods’ which are healthy fruits and veggies that give you a boost when you need it.
Everything is going digital! The postal office is becoming an endangered species because Jozi is going digital. Even students get their fees statements online, people are shopping online, even cabs like Uber are using the digital space to do business.
In a bid to reduce paper usage, internet in Johannesburg has gone viral! Everyone uses internet, for EVERYTHING from online shopping to online school fees statements. According to the City of Joburg, internet usage has trebbled to over 12 million since the year 2000. Nine of the 12 major internet service providers listed Internet Service Providers Association by are based right here in Jozi.
Even our money in Joburg is going green
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY: Our banks are going green. Graphic: Michelle Gumede
Banks like Nedbank are committed to climate change through their Corporate Social Investment programs. As a a signatory to the Carbon Disclosure Project, Nedbank received an A-minus rating for transparency and performance. This bank is leading in sustainable business practices as their policy is strongly focused on climate change issues and sustainable banking.
51% of Jozi buildings in the commercial sector are expected to be going green by the end of 2015 according to the McGraw and Hills World. There are long term financial benefits to going green for corporate companies including increased rental rates and asset value, reduced risk of depreciation, and higher tenant attraction and retention rates. The Green Building Council South Africa uses a green star rating system to determine how environmentally friendly buildings are built and operated.
The WWF Building in Braamfontein is one of the most cutting edge green buildings in Jozi, they have their own water purification system, light sensitive blinds and the building itself is made up of reused material.
In an initiative to reduce carbon emmissions, the City of Joburg has embarked on a campaign to promote cycling in the city. Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau launched Cycle week in March to demonstrate the city’s commitment to cycling.
Designated cycle lanes have been set up to allow for cyclists to travel safely. Cyling lanes are patrolled and monitored by a patrol unit which is set up by the Metro Police. 31 people have been fined for parking in the cycle lanes while six cars have been impounded. Other forms of public transport like the Gautrain and the Rea vaya rapid bus system contribute to lower carbon emissions in the city.
CYCLING IN THE CITY: Joburgers love cycling and our Mayor Parks Tau agrees. Photo: Michelle Gumede
The arbor city
Johannesburg is an arbor city which means that majority of the trees found in the city are planted. If there were no humans were settled here then there would literally be no trees in this semi arid space. Arbor week is celebrated from 1- 7 September every year.
EVER GREEN CITY: Luscious plants cover every corner of Johannesburg. Photo: Michelle Gumede
Eco friendly vehicles can be spotted all over Johannesburg. These cars emit less harmful fumes into the environment and have a positive
The Nissan Leaf, the Toyota Prius and the Porche Panamera S e-Hybrid are some of the popular environmentally friendly cars around. The Nissan Leaf for instance runs on electricity and its laminated lithium ion batteries can be charged at home or at any other electrical station. It has zero emissions and a low internal combustion engine allowing it to reach high speeds. The Eco mobility world festival is currently happening in Johannesburg until the end of the month.
ECO DRIVING: Earth friendly cars can be spotted across the city. Photo: Provided
Businesses reducing their carbon footprint
Energy saving measures are business as usual as retailers like Woolworths. By using Energy efficient store lighting, natural gas refrigeration and solar power theyre business model is built around the concept of being green. Their farming for the future initiative is a campaign to save water and have less chemical runoff through their farms. Fabric suppliers also adhere to high standards of sustainability when it comes to dyes, materials and chemicals.
RESPONSIBLE BUSINESSES: Sustainability is a large part of most businesses in Jozi. Photo: Michelle Gumede
Schools going green
Schools in Johannesburg are going green by planting veggie gardens. Today’s primary school students, like those of Sunward Park use the digital medium to interact with learning material. saving paper saving the trees!!
GREEN KIDS: Vegetable gardens can be spotted at many Joburg schools. Children in Jozi are enthusiastic about saving our planet. Photo: Michelle Gumede
Is big business in Jozi for both the rich and the homeless. This trend is one that helps the homeless in Jozi make ends meet while businesses get to enjoy the long term benefits of responsible recycling.
SMART CITY DWELLERS: Recycling helps homeless people make extra money in Joburg. Photo: Michelle Gumede
RECYCLE, REDUCE, REUSE: Joburgers dispose dangerous batteries in safe and environmentally friendly ways. Local supermarkets put out these boxes to assist communal recycling. Photo: Michelle Gumede
Residential spaces like Alexandra township have taken to installing solar geysers in their homes. This has resulted in lower electricity bills and of course a greener city.
GREEN HOUSEHOLDS: Many homes in the city supplement their electricity supply with solar power. Photo: Michelle Gumede
Chill out spots are greener than ever
The city has dedicated a whole department to oversee the 20 000 hectres of green open spaces that hosts over 2000 recreational parks, cemeteries and botanical gardens.
Currently, the Zoo has 326 species consisting of 2 096 specimens housed within 54ha area. The collection consist of 20 Amphibia (Frogs), 5 Arachnida (Spiders), 128 Aves (Birds), 47 Reptilia (Reptiles), 25 Osteichthyes (Pisces- Fish) and 101 Mammalia (Mammals).parks. this includes botanical gardens, the city zoo and cemetaries.
GREEN PUBLIC SPACES: Johannesburg has a variety of places like the Johannesburg Zoo, where people of all ages can hangout and spend time close to nature. photo: Provided
The way Joburgers are so serious about going green, even the financial hub of Africa, Sandton City, is shutting down for the entire duration of October to cut down emissions. The EcoMobility World festival and exhibition is an initiative that aims to close down all roads. Only public transport, cyclists and pedestrians are allowed to use the streets.
ECO MOBILITY IN THE CITY: The streets of Sandton, the economic hub of Jozi, will be shut down in October. In a bid to cut down harmful emissions caused by heavy traffic. Photo: Provided
Woolworths Urban fashion store RE: has mannequins that are made from recycled materials. Now if that is not eco friendly then, what is?
EARTH FRIENDLY FASHION: Looking good and taking care of the environment are not mutually exclusive concepts in Johannesburg. Photo: Provided
Enough talk about green talk, Joburgers LOVE a bit of color!
World rhino was celebrated on September 22. Rhinos are in serious danger due to continuous poaching. This year alone, almost 800 rhinos have been slaughtered for their horns in South Africa. Wits Vuvuzela takes a look at some of the methods currently being used by various organisations to save the rhino from extinction.
- Anti-poaching patrols
This is the most commonly used method of conservation. Rangers drive and walk around reserves policing fence lines and serving as the first line of defence for the rhino.
Robin Cook, MSc. Candidate in Ecology at the University of the Witwatersrand says the only challenge with this method is that there is a continuous stream of poachers entering the parks and so it feels as if it is a never ending battle that the anti-poaching rangers have to deal with.
Established in 1992, the Protrack Anti- Poaching unit was one of the first anti-poaching units in South Africa. Volunteers undergo an anti-poaching course that allows them to provide specialist rural security services to farms.
Anti-poaching ranger patrols reduce the levels of poaching and increase the chances of catching rhino poachers. Photo: SaveTheRhino
2) De-Horning Rhino
Rhino’s horns are removed to stop poachers from killing them for their horn. This method has been met with mixed responses.
Sceptics feel that this technique removes the animals’ main characterising feature and poachers still kill the animals even when they’ve been dehorned. According to Save the Rhino, this is often attributed to the stub of horn that is left after removal. If the horn is cut too close to the germinal layer, this could damage the horn base and lead to deformed horn re-growth. Although poaching is made less profitable by dehorning, poachers will still kill for a horn stub due to its high value.
Dr Joseph Okori of the WWF says the horns usually grow back at about 3-4 inches every year, which means there is regrowth every 3-4 years, which means dehorning again and again.
While there have been success stories in both Namibia and South Africa. From 1989, Namibia started dehorning rhino to protect them from poachers. This project was successful as none of the dehorned rhino were poached. In Mpumalanga, South Africa, (excluding Kruger NP) out of the 33 rhinos killed from 2009-11, only one was a dehorned rhino.
DEHORNED: There are pro’s and cons to dehorning rhino’s. Photo: Brent Stirton
3) Treating rhino horn
With this method the rhino horn is treated with a visible pink dye that is meant to deter poachers.
Cook explains that a compound made up of ectoparasiticides and indelible dye that contaminates the horn and renders it useless for ornamental or medicinal use is injected into the horn. The dye can also be detected by airport scanners, even when the horn has been grounded into a powder.
However, research by the SANParks shows that the poison may not infiltrate into the entire horn, and therefore the horn may still be usable in the market. Also human ethical and legal risks are involved when it comes to treating the horn while consequences on the welfare and health of the animal remains uncertain with this method.
RHINO DYE: Horns are treated with chemicals to make render them valueless. Photo: Provided.
4) High tech and Innovative Systems
Technology has is also being used in efforts to save the rhino. Drones, high tech fencing and various other gadgets are helping to beef up security for the animals.
Cook says, “It provides conservation management with a new tool for anti poaching as drones can see far more than what humans on foot can.”
Helicopters and sniffer dogs are included in the technologically advanced methods of conservation. Although these gadets are are quite expensive . In 2014, SANParks had received an initial grant funding of R254.8 million to establish air mobility capacity and purchase a helicopter in the Kruger National Park. This year they received a second helicopter to assist in the anti poaching effort.
EYE IN THE SKY: Drones have been successfully used in other parts of the world for conservation efforts.The Kaziranga National Park at Kaziranga in Assam state, India, has been deploying this technology since 2013. The drones have cameras onboard they are faster and have a greater range than ground patrols. Photo: Anupam Nath
5) Rhino trophy hunting
Due to the high expenses incurred in rhino conservation efforts, rhino hunting is used as a method to pay for the care of other rhinos. One rhino must die for others to live.
“It is a touchy subject, as many people are anti-hunting, especially when it is a rhino considering just how many are being poached.” Says Cook.
This method has the potential to ensure that reserves with an abundance of rhino can secure funds to back conservation efforts.
TROPHY OF DEATH: Rhino conservation is expensive and wealthy hunters are willing to fit the bill. Photo: Provided
“We believe that there is no single solution to the poaching crisis in and a range of related activities are needed right along the illegal trade chain.” Says Mxhalisa.
The WWF has developed a National Rhino Programme which focuses its efforts on boosting rhino numbers, benefiting communities around rhino reserves, breaking illegal trade networks, building bridges and working together across borders and bursting the bubble of demand in Asia.