SMOKE AND MIRRORS: No bacon and eggs for Witsies after a long walk.                Photo: Dinesh Balliah

THE SMELL of bacon, eggs and boerewors welcomed participants at Sunday’s Discovery 702 Walk the Talk, but Wits walkers were disappointed when they received only fruit and cool drinks to satisfy their appetite.

More than 360 Witsies participated in the annual Walk the Talk challenge. They proudly wore Wits t-shirts with Wits branding and hoped to receive a hero’s welcome—and breakfast—but the hospitality suite had only three umbrellas, five blankets, soft drinks and a box of fruit.

I looked for the Wits marquee but I couldn’t find it

The suite was so underwhelming, many could not find it. “I looked for the Wits marquee but I couldn’t find it. I was told by another participant that the Wits stand was a couple of umbrellas and some towels on the floor,” said Wits staffer Modise Makhetha.

This is in contrast to other companies hospitality suites that were marked by white picket fences and round tables with umbrellas. Companies such as Media24 and DStv had special caterers who braaied meat and chicken kebabs and served fresh rolls and salads. Vivienne Rowland, Marketing and Communications Office spokesperson, acknowledged that there were aspects of Wits’ participation in the event that needed improvement in the future. Rowland said the university did not have funds available to cater for their walkers.

[pullquote]I was told by another participant that the Wits stand was a couple of umbrellas and some towels on the floor[/pullquote]

We did not have these funds available 

“We did not have these funds available and—even if we did—we believe that they could be better spent for academics or other purposes,” she said. Wits walkers had been promised a shuttle service from Wits that would operate from 5am to 4pm, but walkers waited for more than 30 minutes for the first bus to arrive.



TEAM SPIRIT: A team Wits banner that some of the walker carried
Photo: Dinesh Balliah

Makhetha said after he finished his 15km walk, he and other Witsies waited more than an hour for the bus to arrive.

We apologise to all Witsies

Rowland apologised for the bus delays and blamed them on traffic and routes.  “The traffic congestion also played a role in delaying the buses.  We apologise to all Witsies for the inconvenience and it is definitely a matter that we will address in our debriefing meeting,” she said.

This was the first time Wits formally entered a group into Walk the Talk. Rowland said she considered the event a success.
“It went extremely well for an initial attempt at improving staff morale and wellness, and doing our bit for charity,” she said. This year more than 50 000 people woke up early on Sunday morning, to the starting lines at Marks Park Sports Club near Randburg.

Kgalema Motlanthe

Participants had a choice of taking part in the 30km, 15km, 8km or 5km route. Dogs, toddlers, young and old enjoyed the walk through routes in Greenside, Emmarentia and Parktown.  Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said he joined in the fun because he wanted to promote healthy living.