Q & A with Shandukani Mulaudzi

 

Wits Journalism alumnus and former Voice of Wits (VOW) FM presenter Shandukani Mulaudzi, tells Wits Vuvuzela of her dream of changing the world and telling stories via multimedia. Mulaudzi is currently a journalist at City Press. (more…)

EDITORIAL: Powerful storytelling

PEOPLE speak of being investigative journalists and as we learn and aspire to become some of the best journalists of our generation, we look at these journalists as representatives of the “cream of the crop” in the field. This may ring true, based on our biases and the invisible journalism hierarchy, but French journalist Luc Hermann said it is a tautology to refer to “investigative” journalism.

In his talk Spinning health: How big pharma sells drugs he said every story we write we need to investigate and interrogate, investigative journalism is not a special category where this happens exclusively. In everything we do we must remember our mandate, which is to tell stories accurately and to inform people.

Info-porn

When people think of data journalism the first inclination is to switch off because we all know that “three in one journalists cannot count”.

New York Times investigative reporter Ron Nixon reminded delegates in the data journalism seminars that it is not only about mathematics but about sharing information and helping people understand that information. As journalists we fall into the trap of taking our information, throwing it onto a pretty visual and calling that journalism. A delegate referred to this as “info-porn” and reminded us that we need to remember that even through data we must tell a story.

Data journalism will play a vital role in the 2014 national elections in South Africa. The general public will need accurate and intricate breakdowns of how the polls stand and what that means for the electorate. In the data journalism discussions this was an important topic which served us well as journalists who will be involved in the coverage.

[pullquote]As journalists we fall into the trap of taking our information, throwing it onto a pretty visual and calling that journalism[/pullquote]In our “Your voice” section, we asked delegates what the most important skill they learnt was. For example, sitting in Heinrich Böhmke’s cross-examination for investigative journalists – he spoke of a tool he calls “inherent probability”. The basic principle of this is to question how believable your story is which will determine the amount of tangible proof you will need to have along with your story.

For example, if someone tells you they are late because they were stuck in traffic for 20 minutes you are more likely to believe that excuse from someone in Johannesburg than from someone in a small town like Springbok. The burden of proof on the person in Springbok is higher.  In his opening speech Alex Kotlowitz said: “As a writer your best friend is chronology. If you have it, use it and if you don’t go out and find it.”

Empathetic rather than sympathetic

Kotlowitz said it was important for journalists to be empathetic rather than sympathetic.  In South Africa we are fortunate to experience a broad media freedom. Although there are threats to this freedom we do not routinely experience death threats and corrupt editors as in some other countries.

Idris Akinbajo, a reporter from Nigeria who was central to investigations into oil corruption, spoke about his experiences. A sentiment that most of the Nigerian delegates shared was the negative consequence of exposing the evils of government and large corporations.  As young journos we learned from industry’s greatest and how to think on our feet.

If there is one thing you need to help you write better stories it’s to connect with people and make great contacts.
The Power Reporting conference was the best place to network. Reporting requires one to be courageous and work hard to tell the best story possible.  In the words of Kotlowitz: “Stories open apertures into dark corners of the world.”

Visually impaired with a vision

As a sixteen year old Tsebo Lephoto was a typical high scholar who enjoyed sitting at the back of the class with his friends. But one day he realised he could not see what was written on the board. He went to the bathroom and washed his eyes. When he got back to class, he still couldn’t see clearly.

For weeks, he copied his notes from friends refusing to believe that anything was wrong with his sight. For years Lephoto wore glasses but they did not help. His eyesight kept deteriorating and optometrists kept giving him stronger glasses.

[pullquote]“He was at a point where his eyes were deteriorating and he had started looking into whether he would have to start learning Braille.”[/pullquote] It was five years later when Lephoto was diagnosed with Keratoconus – a rare disease which leads to the quick deterioration of one’s vision. Lephoto was told in some cases the disease it could lead to blindness.

Lephoto, currently an intern at Discovery Life, was studying towards his BComm in Finance at Wits when he received a bursary from Studietrust administered by First National Bank (FNB).

Dr Murray Hofmeyr, National Director of Studietrust said: “We had always funded disabled students but we received so few applications. So we went to the disability unit at Wits which is how we got Tsebo.”

Hofmeyr said when they started working with Lephoto he was at a very difficult point in his life.
“He was at a point where his eyes were deteriorating and he had started looking into whether he would have to start learning Braille.”

Hofmeyr said the bursary did not cover medical issues as it was solely for educational purposes but they were intent on finding a solution for Lephoto.

“I spoke to someone at FNB who helped Tsebo make contact with Dr Mark Deist, an eye specialist.”

Deist is the founding member of the Sandhurst Eye Centre, Johannesburg Excimer Laser Centre and the Laser Vision

[pullquote align=”right”]”This is a rare disability. My contacts are straight from overseas they are not manufactured here.”[/pullquote]Laboratory.

Lephoto said once he started working with Deist they were able to help him get special contact lenses which he has been wearing to improve his eyesight since 2011. Without his contacts, Lephoto can only see silhouettes of people.

With his contact lenses however, his eyesight is improved like that of a short sighted person who wears glasses. Although this is so, he still needs to relax his muscles every so often as bright light strains his muscles.

“This is a rare disability. My contacts are straight from overseas they are not manufactured here. So it costs a lot. I have to buy eye drops and all those things might cost about R3000 a month.”

He does not have medical aid and his parents could not cover all the costs for his treatment. He therefore started small businesses and investments while in residence at Barnato.

“I had a little tuckshop and I also had small investments (in a friend’s construction company) and other business connections.”

Lephoto still invests and is currently saving money to have surgery so he does not go blind and can have normal vision.

Hofmeyr said Lephoto would need a retina transplant which could cost up to R80 000. Lephoto said his doctor had offered to pay for half of the surgery.

Lephoto dreams of starting an investment holdings company and a school for children who are disadvantaged and have potential to do well academically.

“You get kids out there who are really smart but because they do not have the financial means to develop their education so they end up becoming nothing. So I just want to make a lot of money and have a school for children like that so that they can also become something, whatever they want to be.”

Hofmeyr said he was very proud of what Lephoto had achieved and hoped that he would make enough money to get his surgery.

Wits sexual harassment inquiry complete

 by Shandukani Mulaudzi and Caro Malherbe

 

Prof Bonita Meyersfield outlines some of the findings from the report. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

Prof Bonita Meyersfield outlines some of the key findings from the report. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

Wits has pledged to undertake a multidimensional approach to issues of sexual harassment on campus by formulating a special task team initiated by the vice chancellor’s office. These measures and others were announced today at a press conference called to make the findings of an independent inquiry into issues of sexual harassment at Wits University.

Vice chancellor Prof Adam Habib said he takes full responsibility for the abuses that happened at Wits and that the report highlights the failure of the university’s system to address rumours and allegations decisively.

Habib added that the university welcomes the recommendations and will form a Senior Executive Team to start a plan of action on how the issue of sexual harassment will be dealt with, in line with the culture of the institution.

Special Task Team 

The special task team will originate from the VC’s office and comprise various experts from within the university including gender specialists, the transformation office, sexual harassment advisors, legal expertise and student representatives.

Habib said student representatives will not be solely from the SRC but from various sectors of the student body.

[pullquote align=”right”]“The inquiry was one of the most difficult tasks for the whole team to undertake because we were dealing with our own university. But it was important and totally worth it.”[/pullquote]

 

Vice Chancellor, Adam Habib and registrar  Kirti Menon deliberate questions from the media. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

Prof Adam Habib, Kirti Menon and Prof Andrew Crouch field questions from the media. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

Difficulties of investigation
Prof Bonita Meyersfeld, the director of the Centre of Applied Legal Studies at Wits was part of the team who compiled the report together with lawyers from law firm Norton Rose. She said this was one of the most difficult inquiries to undertake.

“The inquiry was one of the most difficult tasks for the whole team to undertake because we were dealing with our own university. But it was important and totally worth it.”

Meyersfeld said students and members of staff were initially reluctant to speak to them but in the last two months of the inquiry they were more willing to come forward.

“The emotion involved in both students and staff alike is evident throughout the university and administration. Students felt they were not listened to and not taken seriously.”

[pullquote align=”right”]”There were other perpetrators discovered during the inquiry.”[/pullquote]

Meyersfeld said the students were also worried about following the legal process as they were worried about being re-traumatised by speaking to various entities about the same incident.

Members of staff, although they shared the same sentiments also worried about the threat posed to their careers if they came forward.

Continuing investigation 

Two cases have already been dealt with and the accused persons have been dismissed. Habib said there are two other cases that are on-going.

“Two have been dismissed and another who began investigations will hopefully be released to me tomorrow. The fourth is yet to begin.”

The on-going investigation is that of Prof Rupert Taylor, while the one that has not yet begun is that of Dr Lord Mawuko. This was confirmed by a reliable source who did not want to be named.

SRC President, Sibulele Mgudlwa answers a question from teh audience. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

SRC President, Sibulele Mgudlwa answers a question from the audience. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

Meyersfeld said while there were other perpetrators discovered during the inquiry. However cases were dealt with on a confidential basis and unless students asked for their accusations to be pursued, they were not.

Habib added: “We pursued various other avenues to get to the bottom of it [new cases]. But in those instances our findings yielded no further investigation.”

Habib thanked the media for blowing the whistle on issues of sexual harassment as this forced the university to take immediate action.

 

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Wits Business School journey back to #1

by Caro Malherbe and Shandukani Mulaudzi

After the resignation of Professor Wendy Ngoma, Director of the Wits Business School (WBS), Professor Adam Habib plans to fix the leadership “crisis” in order to restore the school to its former glory.

Habib said it was imperative to fix leadership first before trying to fix structural challenges, enrollment and reputation.[pullquote]“It is no longer the number one school and that is not acceptable. We cannot have a situation where the number one school is not in the heart of the economy.”[/pullquote]

“To fix a problem, you first need to fix the leadership. Because you can have the best structure in the world but if you have the wrong leaders, it’s not going to work.”

No longer number one

Habib said the school was number one in the country a few years ago but has lost its place and that needed to change.

“It is no longer the number one school and that is not acceptable. We cannot have a situation where the number one school is not in the heart of the economy.”

Ngoma resigned earlier this month leaving the school without leadership. Habib said he was shocked as they had discussed her plans to resign however prior to her announcement there had been no formal agreement. “It took me by surprise when she announced it to the school and didn’t talk to me first because we wanted to manage the news flow around the issue.”

Leadership crisis

[pullquote align=”right”]“It hasn’t been able to keep its directors, its directors hasn’t found it to be a happy place, staff are unhappy as such.”[/pullquote]Wits Vuvuzela previously reported that leadership problems had contributed to the loss of MBA enrollment which the communications manager Jackie Mapiloko denied.

Habib however, said leadership was a crisis before Ngoma’s tenure and still continues to be. “I can say that we have had a problem with leadership, and it’s not only Wendy’s fault. I think that the problem with the business school is that it has had a leadership crisis for a number of years.

“It hasn’t been able to keep its directors, its directors hasn’t found it to be a happy place, staff are unhappy as such.”

MBA enrollment- A “technical glitch”

Habib blamed the low number of MBA student enrollment on a “technical glitch” but said lack of leadership led to the issue being insufficiently handled. He said WBS will not lose its international accreditation as enrollment numbers cannot affect accreditation based on a single year.

WBS has complained about there being a lack of autonomy from the main university when it comes to making decisions and financial management. Habib said the right leader is first needed before discussions of autonomy can be held. “Find the right leader. Then we’ll benchmark the autonomy required for this school compared to all the other business schools in the country and in the world and we’ll implement.”

The business school will be searching for candidates both locally and globally to fill the directorship over the next two weeks.

 

 

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WITH VIDEO: SRC and Habib share Wits vision

Wits’ new vice chancellor and its SRC president have similar visions for the future of the university in the next ten years which they expressed in different ways yesterday at Professor Adam Habib’s installation ceremony.

Habib was officially appointed as Wits’ vice chancellor and principal in a ceremony presided over by Wits chancellor Justice Dikgang Moseneke. SRC president Sibulele Mgudlwa stole the show with his light-hearted speech that struck the right chords.

SRC President 2023 writes a letter

Mgudlwa, said his speech from the perspective of a letter written to him by an SRC president leading in the year 2023.

Mgudlwa’s fictional 2023 SRC president wrote the letter from her flat in Soweto off her iPad that she received for free at registration. She told “dear Sibu” that the university’s WiFi had a reach across the city of Johannesburg.

In 2023 there was no such thing as discrimination based on race and poor students were taken care of to the extent that no students were sleeping in libraries, or sleeping with empty stomachs. Mgudlwa said in 2023 sexual harassment was a myth. He had the audience laughing loudly when he said that the Wits University of 2023 did not charge students for protesting, alluding to the charges against 11 Witsies for their involvement in a protest.

Habib’s equality vision

In Habib’s speech, he referred to inequality as South Africa’s Achilles’ heel. Habib said his vision was for an “Afropolitan dream” to drive South Africans and all at Wits University.

Habib said the essence of this dream as defined by Wits Humanities scholar, Achille Mbembe, is: “A commitment to the country, continent and globe; where we are at one with being African and human”. Habib said Wits was committed to addressing issues of transformation and diversity and apologised to those who had faced discrimination of any kind in the past.

Wits “World class university”

Habib also spoke about what it means for Wits to be a world class university. He said it was important for Wits to compete in its own right without imitating the foreign. “It is the responsiveness to one’s contextual specificities that enhances a university’s ability to make unique contributions to the global corpus of knowledge.”

Mgudlwa said in 2023 Wits would sit firmly in the top 100 universities of the world.[pullquote align=”right”]“We trust that you will lead this university to greater heights and if you do not, we have you on Twitter.” [/pullquote]

Hope for student-focused Wits

Mgudlwa said he hoped that Habib would focus on students and listen to students on university issues. He said if Habib was not accountable to students, they would express themselves one way or the other.

“We trust that you will lead this university to greater heights and if you do not, we have you on twitter.” The ceremony was attended by a number of local and international dignitaries including Ahmad Kathrada, vice-chancellors of a number of South African and African universities, Advocate George Bizos, Dr Mamphela Ramphele, Moeletsi Mbeki, and the Minister of Science and Technology, Derek Hanekom who delievered a speech as well.

 

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Supreme matric deception

DSC_0025

Matric learners at the Supreme Educational College in Braamfontein have accused their school of short-changing them by only registering them for five subjects instead of the seven required for a matric certificate.

Wits Vuvuzela interviewed six Supreme College learners, who asked not to be named.

“They are saying we must do five subjects this year and do two subjects next year. This means we cannot apply for university now,” said one of the learners.

The learners said the college’s deputy principal demanded that the they sign a form promising to only take five subjects. The deputy principal threatened to de-register them if they did not sign, according to the learners.

Part-time versus full-time

Nkululeko Ncube, principal of Supreme College, said the school has full time learners who are taking seven subjects and part time learners who are taking only five subjects.

The learners provided Wits Vuvuzela with forms listing the schools full-time and part-time “candidates”. They said they were full time learners however their names appeared on the list for “part-time”.

“We did not sign for part-time. They told us that it is because we will not be able to manage the workload. I don’t understand because we are still taught seven subjects but we will only write five for finals,” another learner said.[pullquote align=”right”]“Every time we ask what is happening we are sent to a different person in management. They all say it is not their concern.”[/pullquote]

Management does the shuffle

The learners told Wits Vuvuzela they asked school officials about why they were only taking five subjects but were refused a direct response.

“They told us ‘that is for us to know’,” one student said.

[pullquote]“The school fee is R800 per month. Learners who agreed to the five subjects are only paying R600. I am still paying R800 but now I am being forced to be part-time.”[/pullquote]Another student added: “Every time we ask what is happening we are sent to a different person in management. They all say it is not their concern.”

The learners said some agreed to take only five subjects because they received a discount on their school fees.

“The school fee is R800 per month. Learners who agreed to the five subjects are only paying R600. I am still paying R800 but now I am being forced to be part-time,” the learner said.

The learners said the school had disregarded their right to choose and did not take their financial status into consideration. The learners admitted that they had become disheartened and had nothing “driving” them to attend classes.

Wits Vuvuzela spoke to a parent who did not want to be named in order to protect her child.

“My child’s education is suffering. She is getting old now. She cannot return again next year. This is not fair.”

Department of Basic Education response

Wits Vuvuzela approached the provincial department of education with the learners’ allegations but were told that regulating independent school’s like Supreme College was difficult. However, the department said that it had made enquiries at Supreme and it found “no evidence” to support the learners’ allegations.[pullquote align=”right”]’You guys think you are clever going around telling people what is going on at the school. Why are you doing that? When you have a problem with your father do you go around and tell the neighbours?’[/pullquote]

“Departmental documents indicate that all 47 learners are registered to write seven subjects this year,” the department said in an email to Wits Vuvuzela.

Intimidation

Following enquiries by the department, the learners alleged that Ncube gathered the matrics and accused them of stirring trouble.

“’You guys think you are clever going around telling people what is going on at the school. Why are you doing that? When you have a problem with your father do you go around and tell the neighbours?’,” the learner recounted.

The learners said their parents were even confused as to what was happening.

“My dad went and asked. They confused him with long answers,” the learner said.

Learners accused the school of fabricating their marks. They said they had not written a third Afrikaans examin June but had still received marks for it.

Ncube told Wits Vuvuzela that the third Afrikaans exam was not written as the teacher left. The marks on the learners’ report card for the third exam reflected an aggregate of their marks throughout the term.

shandu@witsvuvuzela.com

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Cool Kid on Campus: Tom Revington

LOL: Thomas Revington laughs as he tells Wits Vuvuzela more about himself. Photo: Shandukani Mulaudzi

LOL: Thomas Revington laughs as he tells Wits Vuvuzela more about himself. Photo: Shandukani Mulaudzi

Thomas “Tom” Revington is a long-haired indie kid, who is a student by day and a rock star by night.

The fourth year film student is the guitarist and ukulele player in indie-bele band Shortstraw. His other talents include beat boxing and playing on an electric drum kit.

He lives in a commune in Emmarentia with other musicians, which allows him to jam whenever the urge arises.

Why did you choose to study film?

‘Cause it’s cool. No I’m joking. I wanted to do architecture, but apparently my maths marks weren’t good enough so film was the next best thing. Glad I did though, I get to experience life in its entirety and love the creative process and being able to produce a product at the end.

How did you get involved with the band Shortstraw?

I used to be in a band called The Uncut, but that ended. I just posted a Facebook status saying that I was bored and wanted to jam with people looking for a guitarist.

Jason Heartman, the band’s ex-guitarist, saw it and let the guys know and, yeah, two and a half years later, I’m still the guitarist.

 

GANGSTA: Tom says throwing gang signs is a talent he has. Photo: Shandukani Mulaudzi

GANGSTA: Tom says throwing gang signs is a talent he has. Photo: Shandukani Mulaudzi

 You just went to Oppikoppi with the band. How was that?

It was awesome, dusty and crazy, but I managed to survive it. I particularly enjoyed the performances by Manchester Orchestra and Matthew Mole. He’s a buddy of ours. Also our show was crazy cool, just an amazing experience.

 How do you juggle being in a band and being a full-time student? 

Yo, it’s hard hey. I do that and I have to work to pay for rent and stuff. Last year my first day of exams coincided with the band’s first day of tour, so I had to fly back and forth a lot and did a lot of studying on planes.

But everything works out somehow.

Are girls very forthcoming with their advance because you’re in a band?

Ha ha ja, but I‘m just not that kind of guy. I have signed a boob though. There’s a lot of temptation I suppose, but I am single and I’m just really awkward anyway. My awkwardness generally just puts girls off.

What are some of your favourite spots in Braamfontein?

There’s so many, I like Great Dane, Kitcheners, Father Coffee – actually just everything on Juta. The urban renovation is awesome, I hope it keeps growing so everyone can come party in the city.

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GALLERY: Oppikoppi 2013

By Caro Malherbe, Pheladi Sethusa and Shandukani Mulaudzi

This year’s Bewilderbeast festival treated 20 000 fans to a wide range of local and international acts. Team Vuvu got to experience it and documented it with their lenses.

Mo fayah, no fire drill

WARNING: Notice advicing students and staff about faulty lifts Photo: Nokuthula Manyathi

WARNING: Notice advicing students and staff about faulty lifts
Photo: Nokuthula Manyathi

by Nokuthula Manyathi and Shandukani Mulaudzi

Work in University Corner was disrupted on Tuesday afternoon when a fire broke out in the lifts on the 13th floor, and Wits Vuvuzela has since discovered that no fire drills have been held in the building since at least 2010.

Brigitte Reid, fire marshal for the 11th floor, said that since Journalism & Media Studies moved there in 2010, there had been no fire drills and no official training. “I don’t even know where we are supposed to congregate in the event of a fire.” During the fire, there was some confusion about where the fire was and whether occupants should evacuate.

We just heard the alarm and knew it must be a fire so we left

Theresa Sithebe from the Wits University Press on the 5th floor said they were confused about what to do as they had not had fire drills since moving to the building last year. “We just heard the alarm and knew it must be a fire so we left.”

Zandi Bekwa, an intern with Drama for Life on the 17th floor, said they contacted Emergency Services when they heard the alarm, but were advised to stay put. However, when they saw a great deal of smoke coming from the lift, they decided to leave. She said no officials came up to tell them about the fire.

The lifts in University Corner have been the subject of complaints for some time. During the July vac, a start was made on replacing them.

Tawana Kupe speaks

On Wednesday afternoon, Deputy Vice Chancellor Prof Tawana Kupe, sent an e-mail to the Wits community, apologising for the poor functionality of the lifts. He said he would “make every effort to ensure that all the lifts remain in service, that they are operational, and that the safety of users is prioritised at all times”.

Some of the University Corner community, however, has become disheartened and felt this focus on safety has come a little late.

Michael Smurthwaite, VoW fm station manager, said he had also lodged complaints with PIMD  (Property And Infrastructure Management Division) about the lifts prior to the fire. The first concerned lift buttons that were not working and the second a lift “jumping between ninth and tenth floor”.

[pullquote]I don’t even know where we are supposed to congregate in the event of a fire[/pullquote]

“Last week, we had to carry an analogue machine down nine flights of stairs. Its takes just one guy to trip downs the stairs and then we would have had a lawsuit.”

Another occupant, who asked not to be named, complained about the lift doors’ failure to open again if they started to close when someone was entering or leaving.

Carlo Mombelli, famous South African bassist and Wits music teacher, said he was not surprised there had been a fire in the lifts. He said he had complained about them in the past and nothing had been done. “I used to come here in like 1987 and I used to play up on the eighth floor and they had the same lifts,” he said.

 

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VIDEO: Melinda Bam at Wits

Former Miss South Africa Melinda Bam was the keynote speaker at Wits’s Student Development and Leadership Unit (SDLU)’s networking connection seminar on Wednesday. Bam spoke to students about the importance of networking and also following their passions. Bam said she was passionate about inspiring young women. Bam who is also part of the National Executive for the Miss South Africa pageant encouraged Witsies to enter this year’s pageant.

Camera and Voice over
Shandukani Mulaudzi

Editor and Script writer
Nokuthula Manyathi

Interviewer
Nolwazi Mjwara