Silent protest breaks the silence on sexual abuse

Wits students took a stand against sexual violence Wednesday, showing solidarity for survivors and raising awareness.

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Witsies marched in solidarity at the Wits silent protest on Wednesday, lead by the organisers. Photo: Valerie Robinson.


Sexual abuse, violence and rape is something that is a reality. The person sitting next to you in class could be a victim or a perpetrator. This week’s silent protest took a stand to break the cycle of silence.

A 3rd Year Law student speaking to WitsVuvuzela told how she was raped at a party in March this year. The person was not a stranger but rather one of her boyfriend’s friends. “I am doing this to break the cycle. Knowing I have a voice, and other women have a voice” she said.

One of the major issues the protest dealt with is the ‘shaming’ that takes place, when the victim might want to report it.

The student said when she reported it to the police their response was, because there was alcohol involved it simply comes down to her word against his.

A second Wits honours student also told her story of Sexual abuse. She was subject to sexual abuse by someone very close to her over an extended period of time. The abuse began when she was just 11 years old.

Unlike the first student she did not report the incident to the authorities. She said she was too ashamed and insecure to be able to talk about it.

Neither of the students sought any type of counselling.  Bertrand Leopeng, an event organiser and an intern psychologist working at the CCDU said that they are starting a rape survivors group at the CCDU in order to accommodate students who require it.

The dean of students, Dr Pamela Dube, addressed the crowd at the start of the march, on Wednesday.

Reading a letter from one of the founders of the protest she said, “The testimony by survivors is eerily similar, whether it comes from a second year Wits student, or from a 70 year old Umlazi pensioner. All the stories speak of fear, of shame, of hopelessness. Very few of the stories feature the police, hardly any end with jail time for the perpetrators.”

Panel tackles customary law and traditional leadership

A discussion on property rights and traditional leadership turned its attention to the impact of customary law on local communities and women in particular.

Hosted by Wiser at Wits University on Monday afternoon, the panel discussion was part of the Public Positions on History and Politics series.

Director of the Rural Women’s Action Project (RWAR) Dr Aninka Claassens presented a paper which highlighted the negative impact of customary law on women.

She said these laws deny women their right to claim land because the law was formed pre-1994 in favour of a patriarchal system. According to Claassens, official customary laws deny ordinary citizens the right to exercise their democratic rights.

She told Wits Vuvuzela that these customary laws have serious repercussions on democratic rights for people in rural areas because they have to pay an annual tribal levy to show allegiance to their tribe.

“If you do not pay an annual tribal levy, you won’t get a proof of address letter from the chief and if you don’t have that you can’t get a child support grant, you can’t get an ID book,” Claassens said.

She said the situation is worsening with “people being forced to pretend to pay allegiance just to practice their rights as ordinary citizens.”

Gender activist, Nomboniso Gasa, from University of Cape Town, also weighed in on the customary law debate.

“… Government cannot say that because you live in Cofimvaba that this version of customary law must apply to you,” she said.

She continued to say that although she originally comes from Cofimvaba, a small remote area in the Eastern Cape, she thinks she should not be forced to obey certain customary laws.

Gavin Capps, from Society, Work and Development Institute at Wits, said living custom, which is not written in statute is not necessarily a bad thing but official customary laws underestimate democratic forms of decision-making.

However, he said, defining culture and deciding what part of it could be practised is a complex issue which cannot easily contested or changed.

“The point being then is the struggle over who defines culture, tradition and customary law and this has been an ongoing struggle ever since the project begun,” he said.

No quick-fix: NGOs provide little relief for women in India

SAVING WOMEN:  Dr Srila Roy, criticises the work of NGOs in India which fail to provide viable solutions to the problems faced by marginalised women. Photo: Bongiwe Tutu

SAVING WOMEN: Dr Srila Roy, criticises the work of NGOs in India which fail to provide viable solutions to the problems faced by marginalised women.                    PHOTO: Bongiwe Tutu


Marginalised Indian women are not likely to improve their lives through the intervention of NGOs (non-governmental organisations).

This is in the opinion of Dr Srila Roy who spoke at a seminar entitled ‘Saving Women from Themselves’, held this afternoon at Wits University.

Roy, Wits Sociology senior lecturer, reflected on her experiences at an event in Eastern India at the end of 2011, which was hosted by an NGO protecting young women from coerced marriages.

Women’s rights

6000 women from 40 villages were involved in the event but while the NGO was encouraging girls to go to school, they were not concerned with the state of the schooling system.

“The NGOs constantly say ‘send your girls to school. Young girls must no longer be coerced into marriage, they must go to school’, But when I asked them how the schools are, they said to me; there is nothing there.”

“It’s either the NGOs were disingenuous or really removed from their context” 

Roy said that the schools are poorly resourced, there is a lack of teachers, poor infrastructure and  high expenses which are unaffordable to the students. “So what exactly are they going there to do if they’re not learning?” she asked.

“It’s either the NGOs were disingenuous or really removed from their context,” Roy said.

The problem is that few or no NGOs focus on women’s education and literacy, she explained. The reason behind this was because Indian NGOs are micro-financed and focused on economic development.

The NGOs are getting small loans to start businesses and the goal is to generate more money.

“NGOs just want a quick fix,” Roy said.

The market therefore becomes the criteria, and having objectives such as educating young children would not generate any money for them as such, she explained.

The seminar discussions soon turned from India to the South African context.

South African women

A young South African Muslim woman and a Wits student said she could relate to the experiences of young Indian women.

She that of a group of 12 South African girls of Indian descent in her Polokwane matric class, she is the only one that has not yet married.

But she still believes that it is important not generalise: “We can’t assume by educating women they won’t choose to get married at a young age … a number of educated people make ‘morally unsound’ decisions,” she said.

“Education is only one of the solutions” she added.

Women caught in a political patriachy

South Africa is stuck in a space where women politicians are the target for unfair gender-based criticism and humiliation.

This was the subject of a discussion at Wiser on Thursday called“The trouble of being a female in politics” with a panel composed of Rebecca Davis from the Daily Maverick, Eusebius McKaiser from Power FM and journalist and Wiser fellow Khadija Patel.

Davis wrote an article for Daily Maverick last week on the special problems for women in politics. The article, which caused wide debate, addressed the way the South African media and society as a whole dealt with the merger between the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Agang and their respective female leaders, Helen Zille and Mamphela Ramphele.

The press conference was marked with a kiss between Zille and Ramphele, demonstrating their long friendship. But the panelists pointed out that the kiss soon became a meme, and was compared to acts of lesbianism and sexual provocation.

The merger soon failed but Davis noted that criticism of Zille and Ramphele made hay of the two leaders being women.

“Let’s face it, the DA-Agang merger was disastrous, but the fact that they were women should have been irrelevant.”

“This suggests that there is an illegitimacy to women owning the public space in South Africa,” said Davis.

Both the DA and Agang have also been criticized for being too “top heavy” with female leadership.

However, Davis said a political party with an all-male leadership is never recognized for its “weirdness” or criticized for being “too masculine”.

McKaiser believes that South African politics does not have a problem with a lack of female representation. He argues some of the best performing politicians are female, a fact that is often overlooked. McKaiser uses African Union chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as an example of a woman succeeding in politics. But McKaiser adds that she has yet to make a public mistake and therefore has been spared gendered criticism.

Patel said she was personally pained by the gendered discourse used on women. “It is already hard for a woman to be in politics without these remarks hoisted on you.”

An example of this would be the press referring to Ramphele as “gogo”, a term which helped describe her as an old and confused woman, when she is actually younger than President Jacob Zuma. The fact that he is old is seen as a political advantage and an indicator of accumulated wisdom instead of senility, Patel said.


Wits beat Crusaders

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by Jay Caboz

The influence of Witsies Demi du Toit and Jaime Martin proved too much for Crusaders B as the pair played a hand in every goal of a 6-4 win on Monday evening at the Fourways Indoor Stadium.

Crusaders made the first move of the game forcing Wits goalkeeper Zimisile Shanghe to make a save over the side line from a difficult angle. Crusaders continued to look dangerous going forward until Wits’ Urselar Lesar successfully snuffed out the threat.

In the 13th minute, du Toit was able to snatch the ball from a Crusader centre link to feed Wits’ Gabriela Garcia, who was left unmarked at top D. The striker calmly slotted the ball in the right of the net to put Wits 1-0 up.

Shanghe was forced into action a final time in the half when Crusaders took a quick free hit towards the goal. She was up for the challenge, ensuring Wits remained in the lead at halftime and kept Wits 1-0 up at the halftime break.

The game exploded in the second half when Martin stole a ball from the Crusaders defence within the first minute. She hit the right hand corner of the board, seconds after making a poor decision that could have won her a penalty corner. Her celebration was well deserved having made the goal from nothing and giving Wits a two goal cushion.

Martin, who was playing a high attacking role, was proving to be a handful for the Crusaders defenders. In the 26th minute, Martin added another to her tally after she deflected a wrong-side penalty corner drag- flick by du Toit.

In the 30th minute, Crusaders’ Yolanda Kruger converted to draw the score line back to 3-1.
Martin then neatly pocketed her hat trick by wrong siding the keeper with a delicately placed shot, rather than her usual powerful efforts from top D, that went into the keepers near side post.

Crusaders’ Kruger took advantage of an off-the-line clearance by du Toit which deflected, with force, off her stick to rebound over Shanghe and into the net. Kruger managed to find the back of the net again, scoring her own hat trick and putting the score at 4-3 to Wits.

Wits went with a decision to exploit the wrong side corner again when du Toit rammed home a drag flick into the top right hand corner.

With five minutes left on the clock Crusaders’ Deslie Lester managed to squeeze in a deflection from top D from a well crossed ball.

Wits kept possession of the ball in the last few minutes, frustrating the Crusaders bench. Martin’s dribbles found space once again at the top of the D and this time she opted to win a penalty corner with some neat stick skills. The wrong-side corner was once again utilised and du Toit obliged with her second goal of the match to put Wits 6-4 ahead and end the game.

How have the women done this season? Click to read more
Hockey Women vs St Andrews
Hockey Women vs Crusaders A
How have the men done this season? Click to read more
Hockey Men vs Jeppe A
Hockey Men vs Wanderers A

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Hockey Women fail to stand against Jeppe St Andrews

Shooting High: The Wits Hockey Women, in blue and yellow, watch as a shot by Jeppe St Andrews midfielder Jules Cass, in black and blue, goes toward the goal. Wits lost the game 6-3.

Shooting High: The Wits Hockey Women, in blue and yellow, watch as a shot by Jeppe St Andrews midfielder Jules Cass, in black and blue, goes toward the goal. Wits lost the game 6-3.

By Jay Caboz

The Wits Hockey Women lost their second Indoor Premier League match  3-6 against Jeppe St Andrews at the Fourways Indoor Stadium on Monday night.

Wits got off to a good start at the beginning of the game. They produced a number of neat plays along the board and managed to get behind Jeppe’s defence to test the keeper. The pressure continued to build for the Witsies and within the fourth minute Wits were rewarded with a penalty corner. Witsie and former South Africa U21 defender Demi du Toit stepped up to slam home a drag flick from the top of the D to put Wits up 1-0.

Jeppe managed to shake off the goal and soon after began to turn the tide against Wits.

Wits conceded a number of interceptions along the forward line which allowed Jeppe to counter attack in force. This proved too much to handle for the Witsies as they conceded a pair of penalty corners. In the 11th minute Jeppe’s Roxanne Turner drew the sides level with an un-saveable drag flick in the bottom right hand corner.

Jeppe’s Jules Cass, a former Wits student, added another goal from a penalty corner in the 15th minute.

One minute before halt-time, Wits manage to scrape the scores level after Witsie striker Jaime Martin found a gap in Jeppe’s defence to set up an easy tap in for Wits’ Gabirela Garcia.

During the second half Wits struggled to get the ball out from their own 16 yard hits, this was mainly due to a change in strategy from the Jeppe side who stepped higher in defence preventing most of the ball getting to the Wits forwards. Jeppe showed great composure and awareness and pulled any chance of a victory away from Wits.

In quick succession Jeppe scored two goals in the 22nd and 25th minutes to put Wits 4-2 behind.

Wits came back with another goal from Du Toit in the 27th minute, this time taken from a penalty stroke.

Wits goal keeper Zimisile Shange was peppered with a number of shots from all corners of the D. The students were lucky to leave just two more goals unanswered in the 29th and 33rd minute as Jeppe put the score line to 6-3.

Wits coach Peter de Lange threw in one final gamble by replacing Shange with an extra outfield player with three minutes to go. The change in strategy was ineffectual in returning a goal but did manage to stem the flow of goals as players were able pick up loose unmarked players.

After a comfortable 5-3 win last week Wits’ hopes of keeping with the top competitors in the league took a major knock after the loss.

Witsie defneders Kirsti Morely Jepson (left) and Demi du Toit (Middle) tackle Roxanne Turner from Jeppe St Andrews

Witsie defneders Kirsten Morley-Jepson (left) and Gabirela Garcia (middle) tackle Roxanne Turner (right) from Jeppe St Andrews


A Wits striker narrowly misses a shot to the far post during their match against Jeppe St Andrews




Gabriela Garcia watches the ball lift off a Jeppe St Andrews player.


Wits beats out Crusaders

Wits defenders tackle Crusaders forward Sarah Harley.

Wits defenders tackle Crusaders forward Sarah Harley. Pic: Jay Caboz

Playing in their first game of the Indoor Season, Wits 1st Women’s Hockey put to bed a half-asleep Crusaders 1st with a comfortable 5-3 win, at the Fourways High School Indoor Hall on Monday evening.

From the start of the game Wits’ manoeuvres up front proved to be too difficult to keep track of for the Crusaders defence.  One of Wit’s new signings, Kirstin Simone, found herself with acres of space in the 7th minute at the top of the D and neatly slotted the first goal of the game.

Shortly after, Simone found herself in a similar situation and calmly dribbled the keeper to put Wits 2-0 up in the 10th minute.

Crusaders’ Des Miller managed to get a grip on the game for her side after she pulled a goal back just before the stroke of half time in the 19th minute.

The second half  saw Crusaders begin to have more and more of an influence on the game.  But Wits Captain Jamie Martin halted the Crusaders build-up after she dribbled the Crusaders goalkeeper, on counter attack, in the 23rd minute and gave Wits a two goal cushion.

Thanks to a brilliant piece of individual play by Crusaders striker Sarah Harley, Crusad

Wits Striker Kirstin Simone takes a shot shortly into the first half.

Wits Striker Kirstin Simone takes a shot shortly into the first half. Pic: Jay Caboz

ers managed to pull another goal back to bring the score to 3-2.

Wits sat back and cushioned a steady stream of pressure from Crusaders. As a result Wits conceded a number of penalty corners. But Crusaders didn’t take advantage of the corners, mainly thanks to some acrobatic aerial saves from Wits goalkeeper Zimisile Shanghe.

Crusaders ended up committing too many players forward leaving too much space for Wit’s strikers, who positioned themselves for the counter attack opportunities. Wits defender Demi du Toit found Simone once again unmarked on the side boards high in Crusaders territory. Simone duly converted leaving the score line at 4-2, and completing a hat trick for herself.

Crusaders threw in a final gamble by substituting their keeper with another striker and opting to play with six outfield players. The strategy seemed to be paying off as Crusaders continued to have shots on target. But Wits’ Martin cornered a lone defender and slotted a 5th goal.

Crusaders Heidi Tessendorf managed to squeeze in one final goal in the 38th minute but it was a case of too little too late for the losing team.

The final whistle blew with Wits winning the match 5-3 and announcing their introduction to the 2013 season.