Witsies uncover new dinosaur species in South Africa

RAIN LIZARD: Discovered by Wits PhD students, this is artist’s impression of what the newly described Pulanesaura dinosaur would have looked like. Photo: Provided.

RAIN LIZARD: Discovered by Wits PhD students, this is artist’s impression of what the newly described Pulanesaura dinosaur would have looked like. Photo: Provided.

A NEW species of dinosaur, the Rain Lizard, discovered in the Free State by a Wits team has revealed an exciting new picture of dinosaur development in South Africa.

Wits PhD student Blair McPhee, described it as a new species after he and Dr Jonah Choiniere, from the Evolutionary Studies Institute at Wits University, worked with a team unravelling the mysteries of the ancient creature.

“We used to think that only two species of dinosaur were present in South Africa. Now we know that the picture was much more complicated, with lots of species present. But the Rain Lizard is still special because it was doing something that all these newly discovered species weren’t,” McPhee said.

The discovery of the new dinosaur, Pulanesaura eocollum, meaning “Rain lizard”, shows the first evidence of dinosaurs making the transition to walking on four legs and browsing on the ground.

Pulanesaura was an early member of the long-necked sauropod lineage of dinosaurs, famously represented by Brontosaurus and has been described as small at about eight metres in length and 5 tonnes in body mass.

“This dinosaur showcases the unexpected diversity of locomotion and feeding strategies present in South Africa 200 million years ago. This has serious implications for how dinosaurs were carving up their ecosystems,” said McPhee.

Why is it called the “Rain lizard”? For one thing, it was pouring while they were excavating the skeleton. “Pulane” was also the childhood nickname of Panie Bremer, daughter of the owner of the farm where the dinosaur’s remains were found. And what does Pulane mean? It is Sesotho for “comes with rain”.

#BuildaPresident campaign comes to Wits

The #BuildaPresident campaign, inspired by former president Nelson Mandela, will kick off at Wits University this Tuesday, July 21. As part of Mandela day, event hosted by Drama for Life, will appeal to staff and students to make a pledge to good citizenship. Event activities a display a 3 000 citizen-driven image collage reflecting what the ideal South African president should be.

The #BuildaPresident campaign, inspired by former president Nelson Mandela, will kick off at Wits University on Tuesday, July 21. The Drama for Life department will host the event and plans to get the staff and Witsies to pledge to good citizenship.

Anzio Jacobs, event coordinator and Drama for Life student, said the pledge was created to honour the legacy of Mandela. Jacobs said he hopes the event will “draw attention to pertinent issues we face as a country”.

#BuildaPresident: 3 000 images, like this one, will cover the wall behind the Wits Art Museum facing Jorissen Street as part of the ongoing campaign aimed at fostering quality future leaders of South Africa. Photo: Evans Mathibe.

#BuildaPresident: 3 000 images, like this one, will cover the wall behind the Wits Art Museum facing Jorissen Street as part of the ongoing campaign aimed at fostering quality future leaders of South Africa. Photo: Evans Mathibe.

Part of the activities will include rebranding the wall at the university entrance on Jorrisson Street behind the Wits Art Museum (WAM). The rebrand will involve a collage of 3 000 images shared by people and showcasing their views on what an ideal South African president should be.

“We will rig a stage for keynote addresses from various stake-holders,” Jacobs said. “These addresses are intended to voice the university’s pledge to being a good citizen.”

Jacobs added that everyone in attendance will be asked to “record their pledge in order to show the overwhelming commitment of Wits University to a better South Africa.”

The event, which will begin at 13:15, will be hosted in collaboration with Wits Functions and Events, campus radio station VoWFM and the SRC (Student Representative Council).

“We trust that this will be the beginning of a great narrative of Wits doing its part in building a better nation for all,” Jacobs said.

For more information on the event visit the campaign website  or their Facebook page.

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Blind student opens up about attack on a Wits bus

Wits student Sisanda Msekele, who was attacked on a Wits circuit bus and hospitalised since last Friday night was discharged yesterday morning. She chatted briefly to Wits Vuvuzela about her ordeal. Wits University’s Campus Control Director, Robert Kemp, said the SAPS and Campus Control Investigations Section are investigating the matter. 

Wits Master’s graduate Sisanda Msekele, who was attacked and hospitalised last Friday night, was discharged yesterday morning after recovering from the severe injuries she sustained in the attack.

STRONGER: Sisanda Msekele and her guide dog Romy on the steps of Great Hall after her graduation at Wits University yesterday. Photo: Samantha Camara.

STRONGER: Sisanda Msekele and her guide dog Romy on the steps of Great Hall after her graduation at Wits University yesterday. Photo: Samantha Camara.

Msekele, who was discharged from Milpark hospital in Parktown yesterday morning, said she sustained a “severe bite on her upper lip”, had marks on her legs and bite marks on her hand and nipple.

“The girl who attacked me tried to go for my nipple,” Msekele said. “She was going for my nipple,” she reiterated.

Msekele, who is usually accompanied by her protective guide dog, Romy, said she was with a friend when the incident occurred and had left her dog at home. Msekele has declined to reveal the identity of her friend.

Robert Kemp, director of Wits Campus Control said that the incident was reported around 21h30 on Friday night.

“It is believed that the suspect is also a student,” Kemp added.

Kemp said Wits Campus Control officers went to Milpark Hospital, to gather details of the incident from Msekele on Friday night.

“The matter is currently being investigated by the SAPS [at Hillbrow police station] and Campus Control Investigations Section,” Kemp said.

Msekele told Wits Vuvuzela that “the experience has been very overwhelming” and that she needs some time before she can talk about it more openly.

Romantic hot spots on campus

If you are a romantic or just trying to build your credibility as one, here are some places on Wits East and West Campuses where you can ignite the flame or keep it burning.

Many students look for love and find it on campus. Witsies can grow that love by taking that special person to the romantic spots on campus.

1. Impress your date by taking her/him to the Olives & Plates on West Campus. The old architecture, fountain and beautiful garden makes this spot perfect for a romantic date.

olives

2. The grassy comfort and towering trees on West Campus lawn is the perfect setting to have a picnic or just relax with your Boo Boo.

tree

3. Have a smooch on the bridge when the waterfall on West Campus comes to life during summer and spring.

bridge

4. Feeling passionate? head to one of the quieter libraries for a little lunch time hanky-panky.

books

5. The fountain in front of the William Cullen Library on East Campus has a romantic tone with an intriguing garden with pink roses. Go sit on the benches and take in the picturesque scene.

will cullen

Witsie performs to raise tuition fees

Peaceful Thulare, a first year drama student, used her theatrical skills and performed to a paying audience on Saturday night in order to raise the balance of her tuition fees. She was denied a bursary to study and on the evening of the show, left in darkness due to load shedding. Surprisingly, she was thankful for the ambiance of the candlelight and the support from her family and friends. 

Load-shedding did not deter a first-year drama student from performing last weekend to raise the balance of her tuition fees. Denied a student loan, peaceful Thulare resorted to her childhood love, theatre, to help her pave her way.

As a little fourth grader, she wandered around Michael Mount Waldorf School with a picture version of Shakespeare’s play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She decided her class would perform the play, appointed herself director and assigned roles to her classmates. She performed her way through high school and found herself at Wits University eight years later.

Thulare needed to reach her goal of R4 000 after a very rocky start at Wits.

She applied to Wits, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the University of Cape Town (UCT), however due to financial constraints decided it would be best to remain closer to home.

Financial woes

Thulare applied for NFSAS funding and by January was told she was unsuccessful.

“I just tried to contact every person who could possibly help me,” she said.

Thulare was raised by her mom, a domestic who worked for Gwyn Dawson, who Thulare described as her “other mom”.

After Dawson moved to Cape Town in 2007, Thulare moved in with Tasha and Paul Tollman whom she described as “foster parents”.

Peaceful Thulare, 1st year drama student in character from Foursight, the play she performed last weekend to raise the balance of her tuition fees. Photo: Riante Naidoo

Peaceful Thulare, 1st year drama student, in character during Foursight, the play she performed last weekend to raise the balance of her tuition fees. Photo: Riante Naidoo

Financial hope arrives

Thulare’s mother managed to raise her registration fees from various family members and some of her own savings.

“My mom would do anything to get me into varsity,” Thulare said.

“Paul enjoyed listening to Hot 91.9,” Thulare said, “During that period they had a programme called Wings of Change and Tasha said we should email them with my story.”

After several months the radio station contacted Thulare to find out more about her story and sponsored her tuition with more than R 22 000.

With additional aid from two more family friends, Thulare required R4 000 more to reach her total.

“Tasha suggested the idea of a show to raise money” and Thulare said using her skills to raise the funds seemed like a “viable option”.

Despite load shedding, which left Thulare in candlelight on stage, about 40 people attended which helped her reach her R 4 000 target.

“Everyone was so generous,” she said, “people who didn’t even attend offered to donate money.”

“The candlelight added ambiance and I couldn’t have thought of a better way to have performed the show,” she said.

International student’s memo drafted

The SRC has drafted an international student’s memorandum which highlights their issues surrounding registration, the application process and up-front tuition payments among several other concerns. The memorandum will be handed to Deputy Vice-Chancellor Vilakazi on May 26.

The SRC has drafted a memorandum highlighting some concerns faced by international students at Wits.

The memorandum is said to detail issues which were raised at a meeting held by the SRC on April, 23 which invited international students to voice their grievances.

Students highlighted the registration fee, application process and 75% up-front tuition fee payment as some of their serious concerns.

Tanya Otto, the SRC’s international affairs officer, said the complaints were raised more strongly as a result of xenophobic attacks last month.

“The anger of international students came across when they said that these issues have been happening forever,” Otto said.

“The violence is an aftermath of what has been happening and institutionalised xenophobia is what’s allowing it to happen.”

The memorandum was compiled by Otto and other international student representatives.

SRC FOR CHANGE: Tanya Otto (left) and Shaeera Kalla (right) discuss fine tuning concerns for the international student's memorandum which they will present to the DVC later this month. Photo: Riante Naidoo

SRC FOR CHANGE: Tanya Otto (left) and Shaeera Kalla (right) discuss fine tuning concerns for the international student’s memorandum which they will present to the DVC later this month. Photo: Riante Naidoo

Shaeera Kalla, acting president of the SRC, described the initial meeting as “hostile” and said her concern is to get international lecturers at Wits to help “push the agenda for international students at Wits and their own issues”.

“I am looking at this memorandum as a first step to negotiations around international issues,” Kalla said.

“The SRC aims to create a platform for international students to feel comfortable enough to speak about their issues without feeling it is just going to be dismissed,” Kalla said.

The SRC felt there was a lack of response from international students at the initial meeting and said she saw the current memorandum as a “working document”.

“There needs to be more issues addressed in the memorandum that relate to other stakeholders,” Kalla said. She said these were international lecturers and international non-academic staff at Wits.

The SRC aims to have events throughout the year in which they can promote international cultures in order to “create a safe environment where international students feel like they are heard,” Kalla said.

Kalla added that the extent to which local students are willing to get involved in international students’ issues and assist them also needs to be acknowledged.

Otto said the memorandum was compiled last week Friday and the SRC will present the memorandum to Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Zeblon Vilakazi on May 26.

Otto and Kalla said of the 15 international student associations on campus, only four have responded and provided input for the memorandum.

“We can’t blame it on unresponsiveness and say that that is the reason for not addressing issues,” Kalla said. “What we need to do is create a space to encourage participation where international student societies don’t feel as though they don’t want to be involved.”

Kalla said the SRC is focused on creating an environment which can foster discussion.

She said they aim to eventually extend the memorandum to focus on broader issues regarding international students and academics issues with home affairs and issues faced by all international visitors.

“We want to contact other universities to discuss these issues and do something about it.”