UPDATED: Cracks in Wits 11 unity

I WON'T BE PUNISHED:  Tokelo nhlapo, one of the Wits 11, is fighting his sentence of 130 hours of community service.  Image: File

I WON’T BE PUNISHED: Tokelo Nhlapo, one of the Wits 11, is fighting his sentence of 130 hours of community service. Image: File

UPDATE: Tokelo Nhlapo has confirmed via Twitter that he received 130 hours of community service and not 80 as reported in this article.

The statementreleased by the vice-chancelllor Prof Habib last year indicated that while all of the Wits11 received 80 hours of community service, “one of these students has further been found guilty of not obeying a lawful instruction issued by a University employee, and will be required to perform an additional 50 hours of community service for this offence.”

The identity of this student was not known to Wits Vuvuzela previously. We apologise for the error.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Some members of the “Wits 11” – the students disciplined last year after they disrupted a concert by an Israeli pianist – have agreed to accept their punishments, in spite of declarations to the contrary.

The Wits 11 were charged and found guilty of misconduct for interrupting a concert by pianist Yossi Reshef, as part of a pro-Palestinian protest, and were ordered to perform 80 hours of community service.

Tokelo Nhlapo and Pearl Pillay told Wits Vuvuzela the Wits 11 were united in opposition to their sentences. Pillay said the Wits 11 were not going to comply with the sentence because the ruling was “unfair”.

However, Wits spokesperson Kanina Foss said Wits 11 member Apelele Pindani had already made arrangements with the office of the vice chancellor to complete her prescribed community service.
If Pindani did not, she “will not be issued a certificate of good conduct”, which was necessary if the law student wished to practice in the legal profession, said Foss.

“Some people have complied and some people haven’t complied with the requirements of the sentencing.”

Contacted by Wits Vuvuzela, Pindani declined to comment on her own punishment, but confirmed the Wits 11 were divided over complying with their punishments. “Some people have complied and some people haven’t complied with the requirements of the sentencing.”
Foss said the university expected the Wits 11 to comply with their sentences before they finished their degrees. “The university would expect the students to complete the community service as soon as possible, but definitely before they complete their studies.”
But Pillay said she did not believe refusing to complete her community service would hinder her graduation. She said the judgement against them did not state that non-compliance would mean they could not complete their degrees.
Nhlapo told Wits Vuvuzela the 11 were pursuing every option available to continue to fight the sentence. He said they were in contact with a Constitutional Court judge, who was willing to review their case.
“We are not prepared to do business with Zionists who kill Palestinian women and children.” Nhlapo said the university had used a policy dating from 1988 to charge the Wits 11. He believed the ruling was illegal and unconstitutional in the new South Africa.
Nhlapo, Pillay and Pindani were SRC members when they protested the pianist’s appearance in 2013. Other SRC members Sibulele Mgudlwa, Joy Phiri, Tasneem Essop, Justice Nkomo, Klaas Mokgomole and Norman Mashegoane as well as Wits students, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi and Feziwe Ndwayana, were also found guilty of misconduct for their part in the protest and all were ordered to perform 80 hours of community service.

 

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SRC review of new club “fruitless”: Project W

The SRC has agreed to review the decision to refuse recognition to Project W but the new organisation is already complaining the process is a “fruitless” exercise.

Initial decision

Project W’s Jamie Mighti complained that the process, which began with a meeting on Wednesday, will be unlikely to reverse the initial decision, made by the Progressive Youth Alliance-led SRC.
Earlier this month, Wits Vuvuzela reported that Project W and Wits Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) had been refused official recognition as clubs and societies by the SRC. Both organisations said their exclusion was politically motivated.

 The review
The decision to exclude them is now being reviewed by the SRC.Dean of Students Pamela Dube told Wits Vuvuzela the SRC had “committed themselves to providing an opportunity for the relevant CSO’s[clubs and societies] to present themselves following the dissatisfaction with the outcome of the Initial process,” she said.

[pullquote]“So what is the point of having a review, if you are not going to review and if you are not actually going to follow the letter of the rules,”[/pullquote]

A pre determined outcome?

But Project W SRC member Jamie Mighti, claimed the process will be a “fruitless”exercise because SRC clubs and societies officer Sarah Mokwebo declared at the Wednesday meeting about appeal process that “I’ve already made my rulings and I’m going to stand by them” “So what is the point of having a review, if you are not going to review and if you are not actually going to follow the letter of the rules,”Mighti said.

“We’re going to make presentations before three or four SRC members, but only one [Mokwebo] decides what happens and makes recommendations. The one person who makes recommendations is the very same person who declined the societies in the first place,” said Mighti.

SRC Responds 

Mokwebo told Wits Vuvuzela that she could not respond to allegations made against her since it was an “internal matter”. She referred questions to SRC president Shafee Verachia and SRC secretary Michlene Mongae. Verachia said he was in meetings and could not comment. Mongae did not reply to requests for comment.

Even if Project W is refused recognition, they may still have a reprieve Dube said the final endorsement of the SRC’s decision on clubs and societies would come from her office with some input from the vice-chancellor’s office.
Wits EFF member Tokelo Nhlapo said they were not aware of the review process and would not participate in it since they were not invited to by the SRC. Instead, they would be appeal directly to the dean of students.

[pullquote align=”right”]“We were told that if we didn’t reach quorum, we would just make recommendations to the SRC, but how can we make a recommendation to ourselves?”[/pullquote]

Project W SRC member Jabulile Mabuza told Wits Vuvuzela that the meeting the SRC held on Wednesday to review applications was problematic. She said the meetings did not have a quorum and so could not take decisions, only make recommendation.“We were told that if we didn’t reach quorum, we would just make recommendations to the SRC, but how can we make a recommendation to ourselves?”she asked.

Ghost form 6
She added that new forms needed to apply and not been provided to Project W. The form in question “Form 6” was not given to Project W at their initial application.

Mabuza added that the form does not exist, “Nobody knows where it is, or who has it,” she said. Mighti said that Project W would still make their presentation despite their complaints with the process. “We will follow their broken system, but we will point out that their system is broken,” he said.

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VC probes SRC clubs

WEB

APPLICATION DENIED: Vuyani Pambo, chairperson of Wits EFF, was upset by the SRC overplaying their hand. Photo: Nomatter Ndebele

[pullquote]”Some of these people have political ambitions to lead ANC provincial structures, so they want to be seen to be shutting down the ANC’s opponents,” Nhlapo said.[/pullquote]

ACCUSATIONS that the SRC is abusing its powers against political opponents have resulted in a review by the vice chancellor’s office.

The SRC, which is led by the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA), is responsible for officially recognizing Wits clubs and societies, including political organizations.

Two political organizations, Project W and Wits Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), have been refused recognition.

Both organizations have appealed their rejections and accuse the PYA of playing dirty politics.

Dean of Students Pamela Dube confirmed the SRC would hear the appeal and the vice-chancellor’s office “is looking into reviewing the process by which [clubs and societies] are approved.”

SRC secretary Michlene Mongae declined to comment to Wits Vuvuzela on the accusations.

Jamie Mighti, a Project W SRC member, said the PYA did not follow correct procedure during the application process.

“The SRC must give applicants a model constitution to fill it, but they didn’t do that,” said Mighti. He said Project W’s constitution was later rejected by the SRC because it was not in line with the model.

According to Mighti, new clubs and societies must appear at an SRC general meeting as a final step before being officially recognized or rejected.

But he said this was not done for new clubs.[pullquote]”Some of these people have political ambitions to lead ANC provincial structures, so they want to be seen to be shutting down the ANC’s opponents,” Nhlapo said.[/pullquote]

Mighti accused SRC president Shafee Verachia and Club and Society portfolio holder Sarah Mokwebo of making the decision to reject new clubs without consultations.

The SRC is made up of eight PYA members and six Project W members.

Project W accused the PYA members of the SRC of “banning” them to stop it from interacting with students during O-week.

Chairperson of Wits EFF, Vuyani Pambo, said their organisation applied two days before the application closing date but they did not even appear on the list of clubs and societies who had applied.

“It was as if we never applied,” Pambo said.

He said that when Wits EFF inquired about why they were not on the list, they were given contradictory explanations.

SRC internal vice president internal Paul Ndiweni said they applied late while Mokwebo said they had not applied at all.

Former SRC vice president Tokelo Nhlapo, who defected from the PYA to Wits EFF last year, also agreed that proper procedure had not been followed.

“The SRC is simply a ceremonial structure. It does not follow constitutional obligations,” he said.

“Some of these people have political ambitions to lead ANC provincial structures, so they want to be seen to be shutting down the ANC’s opponents,” Nhlapo said.

The PYA is an alliance between the ANC Youth League, Muslim Students Association and South African Students Congress.

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SRC election battle escalates to legal war

By Thuletho Zwane and Nomatter Ndebele

The SRC elections could soon become a legal battle as the PYA (Progressive Youth Alliance) and Project W take legal action against each other. Tokelo Nhlapo, SRC vice president internal, has laid an official complaint with the Wits Legal Office following a confrontation with Jamie Mighti, Project W candidate and former debating union chairperson.

The incident that led to the complaint.

[pullquote align=”right”]“He said I must be careful and I am skating on thin ice.”[/pullquote]

Nhlapo alleges that Mighti told him to be careful and watch his ways.“He said I must be careful and I am skating on thin ice.This happened when Nhlapo and Mighti had a political debate about an article Mighti had written about “blacks being lazy”. “My contestation with him is that he can’t say blacks are lazy because of our history,” Nhlapo said.

Nhlapo said he was also uncomfortable with the sexist remarks Mighti made a few months ago on the Wits Debating Union facebook page. Nhlapo told Wits Vuvuzela that he had lodged the complaint in fear of his life. “What I want from him is that he must stay away from me… he’s violent.”

Project W responds.

Accused: Project W member Jamie Mighti pictured here with Henry Masuku  may have legal action taken against him.

Accused: Project W member Jamie Mighti pictured here with Henry Masuku may have legal action taken against him.

[pullquote align=”left”]“He [Mighti]] is being crucified. They bring out his history and they try to score cheap political points,” [/pullquote]

During an interview with the Project W campaign manager, Cebo Gila, a female student approached him and said, “Guys, please control Jamie… he can’t go around picking fights”. Gila said Project W needed to “protect” rather than control Mighti. “He [Mighti] is being crucified. They bring out his history and they try to score cheap political points,”

Gila said the opposition was preoccupied with personal attacks against Mighti for allegedly being violent and sexist , using his “history” to undermine Project W instead of engaging with the manifesto of the student action group.

“When he is being provoked on a daily basis to the point that he is being crucified, he is going to react,” Gila said. Gila said that members of Project W were being intimidated to the point where “I feel uncomfortable wearing this T-shirt”.“Do you understand that we have been bullied, we have been forced to change strategy, we have been victimized, our volunteers are told we are puppets,” he said.Gila also raised concern that Project W posters were being torn down.

Project W allegedly receives financial assistance from management.

[pullquote] “completely false

accusations” [/pullquote]made against it.

SRC treasurer, Justice Nkomo, claimed that Project W had received R500 000 from Wits management. He said Project W misled the students because it presented itself as humanitarian.“They ran it [Project W] as a charity campaign but it has a political agenda,” Nkomo said. “They are collecting cans [of food] now; were people not starving in March and April?”

Project W is considering seeking legal avenues to deal with the“completely false accusations” made against it. Gila said that Project W never misrepresented itself. “The misconception is an incompletion of how they [the PYA] understand Project W,” Gila said.

Mighti declined to comment on the incident with Nhlapo and referred Wits Vuvuzela to Gila. Gila said the incident was “regrettable, from both parties”. Wits Vuvuzela was not able to reach the Wits Legal Office for comment.

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Tirade mars anti-gender based violence campaign

WHILE University of the Witwatersrand students were signing pledges for an anti-gender based violence awareness campaign, a male member of the Student Representative Council verbally abused a female Wits Vuvuzela reporter.

Tokelo Nhlapo, SRC  vice president internal, swore and shouted at journalist Emelia Motsai before other students told him to back away.

Motsai covered the campaign on Friday for Wits Vuvuzela. She was approached by Nhlapo who showed her a copy of the Wits Vuvuzela  opinion article she had written.

“He shouted ‘Fuck the hell out of here’ and he shouted I must never take their pictures again”, she said.

According to Nhlapo, the reason for the outburst was an opinion piece written by Motsai that argued the SRC was using the students to further their own cause. Nhlapo said he was “taken aback”.

SRC secretary Tasneem Essop confirmed the outburst but said she didn’t think it was a gender-based incident. “It was an incident based out of anger based on a certain article,” she said.

Nhlapo admitted that he should have addressed his issues with Motsai better. “What was meant to be an attack on her views became an attack on her as a person,” he said.

“I acted out of frustration, anger and impulse. My act was foolish and I will apologise.”

Nhlapo said his outburst was personal and not in his capacity as SRC vice president. “It was me. I was hurt. I personally felt anger about the article.”

SRC president Sibulele Mgudlwa said the SRC denounced any form of assault, verbal or otherwise, on anyone.

SRC members face charges

ELEVEN members of the Wits community, including eight SRC members, have been charged for disrupting the performance of an Israeli-born pianist.

“The university can confirm that it has charged 11 members of the Wits community for a possible contravention of the university’s codes of conduct,” read a statement issued by Vice Chancellor Prof Loyiso Nongxa.

SRC Internal Vice President Tokelo Nhlapo said eight of the 11 people are SRC members. Five of those SRC members charged are also part of the executive: President Sibulele Mgudlwa, External Vice President Joy Phiri, Secretary Tasneem Essop, Treasurer Justice Nkomo.

Nhlapo is also a member of the SRC executive and is among those charged.

Nhlapo said members of the Palestinian solidarity movement on campus had also been charged.

Nongxa said the matter would not go before a Student Disciplinary Committee and, instead, senior counsel had been appointed “to chair the hearing, and to carry out all of its functions and to exercise all its powers.”

The vice chancellor said the university did not want to make any judgement about the outcome of the investigations as the legal process needs to take its course.

The disciplinary proceedings are the result of a protest during a March 12 performance by Yossi Reshef, a pianist who was born in Israel. Members of the Progressive Youth Alliance, Muslim Students Alliance, Wits Palestinian Solidarity Committee and the SRC entered the venue singing songs, blowing vuvuzelas and brought the concert to a halt.

Nhlapo said the charges against them were without basis and were “in the interest of racism of Zionism.”

“Not only is the university threatening us with charges but doing so in the interest of racism and Zionism. Legal office has become a political tool in which Nongxa and his cronies can continue to sing and play pianos while Palestinians die,” said Nhlapo.

He claimed the charges had come only after the SRC complained of racial profiling at the concert.

“Only white people were allowed into the venue and our colleague who had bought tickets was not allowed in because she was Indian and presumed Muslim,” said Nhlapo.

He said the protestors had been called names such as “barbarians, terrorists and many other degrading terms by the organisers of the event.”

Updated: SAUJS sets the record straight

Update: 12 March 2013

SAUJS has written to Wits Vuvuzela retracting allegations of hate speech against Tokelo Nhlapo, as explained in the original article below,  and offered a formal apology.

SAUJS further said that Nhlapo painting over the mural was not “against university regulations”.

The organisation attributes their initial allegations to “an unfortunate internal error in communication within SAUJS”. Wits Vuvuzela quoted SAUJS media officer Gabriella Tobias throughout the article below and according to SAUJS national liaison officer Harry Hoshovsky an “erroneous and incorrect” release was sent from Tobias’s email address “without her knowledge”.

 

“SAUJS fundamentally respects Mr Nhlapo’s right to freedom of expression, even though we may not agree with his opinions regarding Israel. Thus, we wish to sincerely apologise to Mr Nhlapo with respect to this dubious accusation being erroneously published on our behalf,” Hoshovsky said in an updated statement.

Hoshovsky added that SAUJS did not intend to accuse Nhlapo of hate speech, despite him calling the mural “racist and wrong”.

[hr]

Original: 11 March 2013

The South African Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS) have accused an SRC member of hate speech, following what they label as “racist remarks” uttered during Israel Awareness Week.

Earlier this week Wits Vuvuzela reported that SRC vice president Tokelo Nhlapo and a fellow student painted over the mural as the duo believed that the mural was “racist and wrong”. Nhlapo also said: “most of these countries (portrayed on the wall) have signed a peace treaty with Israel”. SAUJS maintains that only two Arab countries (Egypt and Jordan) have signed peace treaties with Israel.

“As it stands, Nhlapo has been given a clear platform to spew his totally inaccurate, virulent and defamatory hate speech,” SAUJS media officer Gabriella Tobias said in a statement sent to Wits Vuvuzela.

SAUJS painted the wall in conjunction with an exhibition to raise awareness about Israel’s small geographical size compared to its hostile neighbouring states and Israel’s existence among students.

Nhlapo further alleged that if Israel wanted peace it “would stop the illegal occupation of Gaza”, a comment which SAUJS has rubbished.  “This is factually wrong as Israel unilaterally and totally withdrew its military presence in Gaza in 2005 along with all its Jewish population.”

“Currently Israel maintains a UN-supported blockade on Gaza so as to prevent military material reaching Hamas terrorists,” Tobias added.

According to Nhlapo, the Muslim Students Association (MSA) and Palestinian Solidarity Alliance (PSA) have lodged a complaint with the Dean of Student Affairs Prem Coopoo, “who approved the artwork”.

Tobias said that Nhlapo contravened Wits regulation when he painted over the mural, as the wall was not booked by any society. However the Dean of Student Affairs Prem Coopoo said: “The time that SAUJS had booked the wall had expired. The next day onwards, it was booked by the MSA and that’s the reason for clearing the wall”.

 

 

Politician kicked out of O-week

Access denied: Democratic Alliance spokesperson Mmusi Maimane was denied a scheduled speaking slot because it allegedly violated O-week protocol.

Access denied: Democratic Alliance spokesperson Mmusi Maimane was denied a scheduled speaking slot because it allegedly violated O-week protocol. Photo: Provided

A speech by Democratic Alliance (DA) spokesperson Mmusi Maimane during O-week was cancelled, allegedly because the party’s Wits youth wing failed to follow university procedure.

The alleged violation of protocol by the DA Student Organisation (DASO) resulted in Maimane being denied a speaking slot shortly before he was scheduled to address students.

Tokelo Nhlapo, SRC vice-president, told Wits Vuvuzela Maimane did not get permission to address students.

Prem Coopoo, dean of students, said she approves all society events of a political nature and does not allow any political speakers on campus during O-week. She added that the new executive committee may not have been aware of the procedure.

Maimane claimed censorship

Maimane said he was not allowed to speak at the clubs and societies’ marquee on the Great Hall piazza, although DASO had confirmed a 15-minute time slot the day before. The SRC drew up a timetable to give different societies the opportunity to promote themselves throughout the week.

In a press statement, Maimane described the incident as “anti-democratic bullying” by the “ANCYL-run Wits SRC”. Fourteen of the 15 elected SRC members belong to the Progressive Youth Alliance, a coalition between several student organisations including the Wits ANC Youth League.

“This is yet another example of how the ANC is attempting to close down the democratic space at our universities. There is a growing intolerance in the ANC of differing views,” he said.

"Signing up for membership" - photo posted by @MmusiMaimane on Twitter during his visit to Wits on Tuesday February 4.

“Signing up for membership” – photo posted by Maimane (@MaimaneAM) on Twitter during his visit to Wits on Tuesday February 4.

[pullquote]”He cannot expect to be given red carpet treatment here because he’s opposition”.[/pullquote]

Tshediso Mangope, Wits ANCYL chairperson, accused Maimane of “cheap politicking”.

“This ‘Robin Hood style’ of manoeuvring is not going to assist us … he cannot expect to be given red carpet treatment here because he’s opposition,” Mangope said.

In e-mail correspondence, DASO Wits requested a speaking slot with Apelele Pindani, SRC Clubs and Societies officer, over a week before the start of o-week.

But after Maimane’s arrival, Luyolo Mphithi, DASO Wits leader, said he was informed by the SRC that the society had not received the necessary clearance to have a political figure address students.

“They were telling us that we didn’t get permission to get him inside Wits and that he was not allowed to be inside.”

 Published in Wits Vuvuzela (2nd edition), 15th February 2013

Congratulations, it’s a scam!

A Witsie was conned into buying R180  airtime which was meant to activate her ticket to win thousands of rands.

A week after she registered her new SIM-card, she received an SMS saying she had won money from Rica.

“Congratulations! Your number won R250.000 from Nokia-Rica promotions. Ticket no 0166,” read the SMS.

Excitedly she called the number to claim her prize. A man asked her to transfer the airtime to his number to “activate the ticket”. After hours of waiting she called but the cell phone was off.

“I feel so stupid and embarrassed, I guess it’s the love of money,” said the first year engineering student who asked not to be named.

She said she did not want to open a case but she had learnt her lesson.

MTN telephone operator, Zoliswa Nojilana, confirmed the number was registered but said the service provider could not trace the owner or where the airtime voucher was used.

“It’s a scam and the only way to find out is through the police,” said Nojilana.

Warrant Officer Maleka Chauke, from the Hillbrow police station, said the student could open a case of theft under false pretences but it would be difficult to trace the suspect.

“The suspect is unknown, that’s why it’s hard but we can’t investigate if there is no case,” said Chauke.

Wits Vuvuzela called the number from the university. The call was answered by a man who asked where the call was from. He then quickly said he couldn’t accept private numbers.

“We don’t have an office number, give me your numbers,” said the man.

A few hours later this  student received another SMS which said the number had won R120, 000.

“It’s unclear how they get the numbers but customers must be cautious of such texts. Our competitions are advertised everywhere so people would know,” said Nojilana.