Wits DRU and PIMD working together to make the university safe for blind students. (more…)
The Willam Cullen and Wartenweiler libraries were flooded overnight after bathroom taps were left open during the water outage yesterday.
Michele Pickover, the principle curator for the historical papers research archives, said that the staff arrived this morning to flooding on the third basement of the William Cullen library where the archives are kept. Not all the archives were affected but the extensive collection of press cuttings used by researchers was damaged by water.
The collection covers the periods from 1940 to 2000 and captures a lot of the South African history. They have been removed from the original holding area to be dried.
“In the event that they are too badly damaged we will have to try digitise them to make them useful still for researchers,” said Pickover. The Rivonia Trial documents, court papers from the trial of former president Nelson Mandela and others, are safe as they are kept in a separate location.
According to Pickover, the university will be providing dehumidifiers to help lessen the dampness and humidity in the basement. In the long run though the department is looking to move to a new building that will house the archives as the current one is not ideal.
William Cullen library was closed today on the advisement of Property and Infrastructure Management Division as they wanted to inspect the danger of water and electricity to the computers and equipment in the building.
Wartenweiler library was partly closed today. It had two of its floors affected by the flood and kept these blockaded as a safety precaution for the students. They are still in the process of assessing the extent of the damage said Paiki Muswazi, the deputy university librarian.
Both libraries will be open tomorrow.
Parking officers at Wits University have complained about the condition of their change room facilities since the renovation of Origins Centre. They were moved out on a temporary basis while the building was under construction but were promised they would return.
They have been filing several requests and suggestions for buildings they could occupy whilst they wait for their new change rooms but these suggestions have been ignored. Parking officers are starting to lose patience after receiving endless promises from the Property and Infrastructure Management Division (PIMD) on West Campus.
Other structures within Campus Control, such as security guards have received response to their request for new change room facilities. No one has been able to explain why the security guards are prioritised instead of the parking officers.[pullquote]“The building is caving in and water is seeping through it. Sihlala nama kati apha (We sit with wild cats here)” [/pullquote]
There is no electricity, the toilet facilities do not work as there is no running water and the drains are blocked. “This is not justice, we can’t change and drink our tea in these conditions,” a parking officer said. Inside the building there are parking signs stacked on the damp carpet and in the corner of rooms.
“The building is caving in and water is seeping through it. Sihlala nama kati apha (We sit with wild cats here),” another parking officer said.
Several requests have been sent to the deputy director of PIMD, Rias Adams, but have been not been attended to.
Adams acknowledged that he received these requests and said the parking officers would be located given rooms in the new science building which is currently being built on West Campus. This building is due for completion by the end of this year.
While this renovation continues parking officers are left with no option but to stay in the building. Adams said, “The university struggles with space and priority is given to education requests.”
He also told Wits Vuvuzela there are structures in place and if the parking officers had any complaints they would have to direct them to the head of Campus Control, Robert Kemp. He said the requests he received from the parking office were sent to the director of campus development and planning, Emannuel Prinsloo. Prinsloo was unable to comment on the matter.
Robert Kemp, the head of campus control, says the change room facilities for parking officers was going to be allocated near the new Maths building but this was allocated to contractors instead.
While renovations of the science block are taking place, he said, “going forward we look at temporary space near the squash courts on West Campus.”
In the long-term he hopes to secure adequate space through the space allocation office.
Wits Vuvuzela journalist Mfuneko Toyana was one of two students who were trapped inside a lift in University Corner Building for nearly three hours on Monday night. He recounts his experience here:
University Corner’s notoriously unreliable elevators struck again on Monday.
This time the newest lift, installed in a building that was almost condemned to demolition a few years ago, trapped two students inside for close to 3 hours.
The unexpected malfunction of the ultra-modern lift, a far cry compared to the two other battered lifts that service building, was compounded by a human malfunction.[pullquote align=”right”]The emergency phone button and emergency bell inside the lift yielded no results[/pullquote]
The lift technician called in to perform the straight-forward rescue told Wits Vuvuzela that he was twice given the wrong address, arriving at Braamfontein Centre two times before eventually finding his way to University Corner after 7pm.
Campus Control officers who were on the scene blamed Property Infrastructure and Management (PIMD) for the mix-up resulting in almost a 2 hour delay in reaching the lift.
Mkhacani Maluleke of Campus Control said that after the students had phoned Campus Control the matter was handed over to PIMD, who interacted with lift company Schindler from there on.
Maluleke and two other Campus Control officers arrived at the scene about 40 minutes after Wits Vuvuzela journalist Mfuneko Toyana and Drama for Life student Thoriso Moseneke used a cell phone to report the lift had become stuck on the 20th floor.
The emergency phone button and emergency bell inside the lift yielded no results, and the students resorted to calling from a cellphone as well tweeting about their plight, spawning the hashtag #freefuni in support of the two marooned Witsies.
It was nearly three hours later at 7. 10pm when Toyana and Moseneke where finally freed and thankfully driven home by Campus Control.
A MYSTERIOUS odour—reeking of rotting food on some days, human waste on others—is plaguing the Matrix.
The source of the persisting foul odour appears to be along the back entrance of the building and has made the use of the nearby walkway unpleasant for many.
In addition to causing discomfort amongst passers-by, the foul odour also plagues practitioners and patients at nearby campus health facilities and is near a loading bay for food suppliers.
Sister Yvonne Matimba, head of campus health, said the odour was something that affected their operation at the centre.
“It’s not ideal for a health facility. I talk about hygiene but then we are next to an unhygienic source. It’s not ideal.”
Matimba said they had notified the university about the odour.
“We have raised it with them, but…”she said before trailing off and shrugging.
The cause of this smell appears to be a matter of speculation and finger-pointing between several sources.
There has been speculation that the smell is caused by the sewage deposit point situated in the nearby area. However, these claims were rejected by Joe Nembudani, campus facilities manager at Property and Infrastructure Management Division (PIMD).
Nembudani said the only drainage in the area was in the form of a storm water channel used to prevent flooding.
But several cleaners based in the Matrix building claimed faulty piping from the Matrix toilets was causing the foul smell in the area.
One cleaner, Samuel Gafane, said: “You see these pipes have holes in them? When someone flushes the toilet upstairs the waste travels through these pipes and makes this area smell.”
Gafane pointed to a disturbing sight. Even on a dry day, puddles of water are present in the area. The constant dripping of fluid has attracted swarms of flies to holes in the pipes.
Nembudani countered that the only possible smell in the area was caused by the cleaners themselves as well as several shop owners in the Matrix, who he believed poured waste product in the storm water channels.
“I promise you it’s not sewage. It’s because of the fat poured by people who are lazy,” Nembudani said. “Even the cleaners they’ve been emptying dirty water into those channels.”
Gafane rejected this and said it was not possible that the soap water he used to clean could cause the odour.
James McCarthy of Phezulu Plumbing, a company often appointed to clean out the channels, said grease from the Matrix shops was a possible source for the foul smell in the area.
“The grease solidifies and ends up clogging the drain and smelling,” he said.
Nembudani said he was unaware of any problem with bad odours as nothing had been reported to him.
Suspected foul play has been ruled out as the cause of a fire in the Yale Road staff residential quarters on East Campus on Friday. The fire led to the death of David Sekhoela after he sustained critical injuries.
Sekhoela, a Servest worker, died in hospital on Saturday September 15.
The cause of the fire is still being investigated.
Most of the Yale Road residents are contract workers at Wits.
Richard Quinton, the responsible engineer at the Property and Infrastructure Management Division, said: “Many unsubstantiated rumours are being spread concerning the circumstances surrounding the case and [we are] considering conflicting statements received from various witnessing parties.”
Sekhoela’s former roommate, Paul Skotho, was in Germiston on the night of the fire. He was informed of the incident by phone on Saturday.
He remembered Sekhoela as “a joyful person who enjoyed laughing”.
“He wasn’t very vocal, like if someone made him angry, he would get angry but he would be laughing the next day.”
Chairperson of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) at Wits and Yale Road resident, Richard Sadiki, said Sekhoela had complained that as a contract worker he was not allowed to use just any pedestrian entrance to Wits.
Sadiki said Sekhoela had jokingly said it was better for him to go home because he was a “prisoner” at Wits.
“Maybe this wouldn’t have happened if he had just gone home,” Sadiki said.
Each room in the Yale Road residence traditionally contributes R50 to housemates who have suffered personal tragedies or to the families of those who die. Recently, R1100 was raised for the family of late resident Samson Makhunga. Sadiki said Sekhoela had not contributed to the fund for Makhunga.
Asking for donations for Sekhoela at a house meeting on Tuesday, Sadiki appealed for housemates to give voluntarily “in an African way”.
“Even if he made a mistake when he was alive, we cannot just punish him because he didn’t agree with us.”
Wits acting registrar Nita Lawton-Misra conveyed condolences on behalf of the university.
“Our deepest sympathies go out to the family, friends and colleagues of Mr Sekhoela, and those who knew him well.”
This tragic incident is being investigated by the SAPS in collaboration with the health and safety manager of the company the victim worked for.
Published in Wits Vuvuzela 25th edition, 21st September 2012
Graffiti artists painting the tunnel between east and west campus were interrupted by an off-duty campus security guard earlier this week.
The Palestinian Solidarity Committee (PSC) had organised the artists, known as Phloyd and Clark, to paint the tunnel for Israeli Apartheid Week. The security guard, Tatishe Moeng, demanded the PSC members who were present accompany him to Senate House as they did not have written permission.
PSC member Aslam Bulbulia said they did not think they needed permission.
Ziyaad Khan, a student development practitioner at the Student Development and Leadership Unit (SDLU), said students from clubs and societies do require permission to make use of the wall. Khan said the PSC should have followed the correct procedure.
While the PSC members chased paperwork with the Property and Infrastructure Management Division (PIMD), the graffiti artists continued to paint the wall undisturbed by security and without permission. By the afternoon, the “Boycott Apartheid Israel” artwork was up on the tunnel wall.
In case security came back Bulbulia carried an A4 piece of paper stating the PSC could paint in the tunnel issued by PIMD.
Students walked past and admired the mural. The artwork lasted less than 24 hours before it was vandalised. The vandals had blackened out the words “Free Palestine” and “Israel”.
Israeli Apartheid Week runs from Monday March 5 until March 9.