Joburg’s landfills almost at capacity

Soon, the city of Joburg will be sinking in its own rubbish

Piles of waste next to the road in Johannesburg’s CBD. Photo: Ayanda Mgwenya

While walking through Johannesburg’s CBD, it is difficult to ignore the amount of rubbish that coats the inner city’s streets. Bree Street, which was recently hit by a gas explosion, is now filled with some of the waste that is carried throughout the city and blown around by the wind, into the raptured road.

However, a more pressing issue lies hidden within Johannesburg’s landfills, which are meant to accommodate the continuously increasing piles of waste from the streets and illegal dumping grounds.

The current operating landfills in Johannesburg, namely: Goudkoppies Landfill Site, Marie Louis Landfill Site, Genesis Landfill Site, and Robinson Deep Landfill Site, are running out of space to dispose of waste rapidly produced by the increasing population of residents living in Johannesburg.

A report, compiled by, Kobus Otto & Associates Waste Management Consultants, a professional civil engineering organisation with extensive experience in waste management, titled Current Status of Landfill Airspace in Gauteng, which is affiliated with the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA), states that these landfills have less than five years before they close.

According to the DA’s Shadow MMC of Public Safety, Michael Sun, who spoke to SowetanLive during his time as the MMC for Environment and Infrastructure Services, said, “There is a critical need for waste reduction in that the city’s existing landfills are running out of airspace at a very fast rate.” This could mean that the current operating landfills in Johannesburg are close to exceeding the benchmark of their airspace capacity.

Situated in industrial peripheries of Turffontein is the Robinsons Deep Landfill Site. It is the largest and oldest landfill in the city and has been in operation since 1933.

As you arrive at Robinson Landfill, the first thing that strikes you is the sight of the towering mountains, but instead of its natural greenery, they are composed of an overwhelming amount of waste.

Going further up the mountain, the waste thickens. Piles upon piles of discarded items strewn about, accompanied by an overwhelming and repulsive stench that will assault your senses – with waste pickers actively searching for anything valuable – be it plastic, glass or cardboard for recycling.

“The waste pickers are there illegally, in terms of our license, they are not supposed to be there.”

Donald Radingoana

You will find a variety of waste such Municipal Solid Waste (MSW): This is the most common type of domestic waste and includes everyday items like food scraps, packaging materials, newspapers, clothing, plastics, glass, paper products, and other common household materials.

Organic waste, such as food waste, garden waste (including leaves, branches, and grass clippings), and other biodegradable materials, is also commonly deposited in landfills.

Building rubble (concrete from demolished structures, including foundations, walls, bricks and pavement), and other hazardous materials like cleaning chemicals, pesticides, batteries, and electronic waste is found in the landfill too.

All of this waste is combined without proper sorting, forming unorganized piles. Large trucks queue up one after the other, from as early as 09:00 to as late as 20:00, to deposit this waste in the landfill. This is a daily on-going process and without massive effective recycling methods, the waste will continue to pile up.

Wits Vuvuzela interviewed Donald Radingoana, the general manager for landfill operations at Pikitup who said, “what determines the lifespan of a landfill is the capacity [airspace]. Every now and then, the surveyor comes and surveys the stockpile [of waste]” to determine the height of the pile. According to their license which determines the capacity, Radingoana said that the total capacity of the landfill is 25 000 000m3, and Robinsons has occupied 24 000 000m3 which leaves the landfill with only 1 000 000m3 remaining, and this airspace can keep them operating for four years.

Waste scattered at the Robinsons landfill. Photo: Ayanda Mgwenya

Pikitup, a subsidiary of the City of Johannesburg (CoJ), serves as the primary waste management service provider within the CoJ. Its core responsibilities encompass the collection and disposal of household waste, carried out through the operation of four distinct landfills across Johannesburg. On a weekly basis, Pikitup delivers waste management services to 1.4 million formal households and 260 informal settlements in Johannesburg.

Pikitup has two primary objectives. The first objective is to achieve “Zero waste to landfills by 2022,” aligning with the global best practice standard, which stipulates that only 10% of the waste stream should be disposed of in landfills”.

The second key objective of Pikitup is to promote recycling. Recycling is essential in the reduction of the amount of waste sent to landfills and extracting maximum value from the waste stream.

Unfortunately, Pikitup has not been able to meet its own objectives in the reduction of waste sent to the landfills. Currently, only 13% of the waste in Johannesburg undergoes recycling, indicating that the combined efforts of all landfills result in recycling less waste than they generate.

The volume of waste generated by the residents of the city has increased significantly. With an increasing monthly population of 3000-5000 people every month, according to Sun in an interview with the Daily Maverick, more waste is yet to be generated. This means that as more people come into the city, the consumption of products and use of resources increases, thus, more waste is generated into the city.

The Association for Water and Rural Development, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to implementing research-driven, multidisciplinary projects and addresses issues of sustainability, conducted a study in 2019. It found that, “every single person (in South Africa) generates up to 2,5 kilograms of waste per day, depending on his or her level of income.” The CoJ collects approximately 6000 tonnes of waste every single day.

This tells us that increased waste production can lead to environmental issues, such as land and water pollution, if waste is not managed properly. It can also pose health risks, as improper disposal and open dumping can lead to the spread of diseases and contamination of air and water sources. Extensive waste generation can also result in increased economic costs for waste collection and disposal.

The New York State Department of Health states that, “Landfill gas contains many different gases. Methane and carbon dioxide makes up 90 to 98% of landfill gas. The remaining 2 to 10% includes nitrogen, oxygen, ammonia, sulfides, hydrogen and various other gases. Landfill gases are produced when bacteria break down organic waste.”

Simply put, high greenhouse gas emissions signify an increased release of gases like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming and climate change. This amplifies the carbon footprint, as it measures one’s environmental impact in terms of emissions. A high carbon footprint indicates greater environmental harm, requiring urgent reduction efforts for sustainability.

According to Pikitup, the city produces over 1.4 million tons of waste per year, and this excludes illegal dumping.

Radingoana said that there are no machines for processing domestic waste, but only crushers, which is the equipment used to recycle builders’ rubble. Which means that the majority of the food scraps go to the landfill. When a landfill contains higher amounts of organic waste, it results in increased production of landfill gases.

The landfill (Robinsons Deep) depends on private recycling companies, which recycle waste. These companies select the waste they want and handle the sorting themselves. Any waste they reject is transported back to the landfill site by Pikitup trucks.

Securing a new landfill site is a process that requires extensive regulation and. Radingoana said, “the process of applying for a permit takes plus-minus two years.” He told Wits Vuvuzela that Robinson Deep bought land next to it, to extend the life of the existing landfill to avoid applying for decommissioning. He said that they have started the process of applying for a permit for the new site because getting a permit after decommissioning is not easy and are doing this before they reach the capacity of 25 000 000m3.

He says the reason why it takes two years is because they must do environmental studies such as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), geological studies, biodiversity studies, hydrological studies and consent from the neigbouring communities.

“Spokesperson of Pikitup, Muzi Mkhwanazu said, “Pikitup and the City are involved in discussion for the purchase of land for future airspace. Phase 1 of the Feasibility studies is completed. The site identified is suitable for landfilling and the discussions with the City [of Joburg] for the release of land has been favourably concluded.”

The construction of a landfill itself is another process altogether. Radingoana claims that the cost of constructing a new site with a lifespan of over 20 years (such as Robinson Deep) is R200 million and can take more than five years for it to start operating.

The aim is to ensure that the new land is secured and ready for the expansion of the existing landfill before Robinson Deep runs out of airspace to avoid being non-compliant, and spaceless for additional waste.

Siyabonga Zungu, a frequent waste picker at Robinson Deep said, “I come here almost every day, this is how I make a living.”  He said that he stays at the community of Booysen (which is next to the landfill) with his girlfriend whom he met two years ago and is also waste picker. He told Wits Vuvuzela that he has been a waste reclaimer for six years now and moves around in various dumps to collect waste and take it to entities that are looking for recyclables. He said that he has been reclaiming waste at Robinson for two years and six months.

“It very dangerous to do this kind of work, sometimes fights would start randomly because people steal other people’s waste here inside the landfill then things would just get out of hand.” He told Wits Vuvuzela that his family in Kwazulu-Natal (KZN) where he comes from does not know that he is a waste picker. He told them that he is an entrepreneur that sells electrical equipment like earphones and phone chargers.

The National Environmental Management: Waste Act of 2008 is responsible for ensuring and regulating that the national standards of waste management such as licensing, contaminated land restoration, waste information systems, compliance and enforcement are well reinforced.

This means that landfill owners have to secure a waste management license in order to fully function with well-managed facilities, strict monitoring and a properly engineered site.

According to Radingoana, “The waste pickers are there [at Robinsons Deep] illegally; in terms of our license, they are not supposed to be there.”

The Minimum Requirements for Waste Disposal by Landfill, Second Edition 1998, issued by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, discourages waste reclamation at landfill sites. If a license holder chooses to permit controlled reclamation at a general waste disposal site, they must request permission either when applying for their waste management license or by amending an existing permit/license.

The operation of landfills involves various expenses related to construction, operation, maintenance, compliance, and long-term care.

Financial resources are essential to ensure that landfills function safely, environmentally responsibly, and in accordance with regulations. Radiongoana said that the City budgets R100 million for the four operating landfills in total, which means that Robinson receives R25 million every year, and “is not enough” to effectively ensure that all the operations run smoothly.

Radingoana said that he is currently in the process of refurbishing a structure at Robinsons Deep which he calls Material Recovery Facility (MRF) where the sorting of waste will take place. He said, “any truck that goes into the landfill, must first go dump waste at MRF where the sorting will be done in order to recover raw material.” He said anything that will not be unrecyclable or non-material will go to landfill site to be buried.

The law stipulates that a landfill has to be 500 kilometers away from the residents. However, as the city develops, more people come into the city, some moving towards the outskirts of the city and reaching even the industrialised areas of the city which were not initially intended for communities.

Johannesburg faces a looming landfill crisis, with existing sites nearing capacity. Despite efforts by Pikitup and regulations in place, waste generation outpaces recycling. The city urgently needs new landfill space, highlighting the complex challenges of waste management in a rapidly growing urban landscape.

‘I saw fire erupt from the ground’ – eyewitness 

Another explosion mere weeks after the last, rocked the Johannesburg CBD on Tuesday.  

This blast was accompanied by a one-storey high fire on the corner of Bertha and De Korte streets in Braamfontein at 15:15 on September 5, 2023.  

A Total Braamfontein petrol attendant, Emmanuel Legau, told Wits Vuvuzela he heard a loud bang and then, “I saw fire erupt from the ground, and I saw someone rolling on the floor, near the where the fire broke [out].” 

The explosion in an open manhole with an Egoli Gas maintenance team in it, led to their gas truck catching alight and then the flames quickly spread close to the entrance of South Point’s Epozini student accommodation.  

A fire erupts from a gas pipe explosion during an Egoli Gas maintenance, causing damage to a truck, a nearby building and the traffic lights. Photo: Terri-Ann Brouwers.

According to the city’s mayor, Kabelo Gwamanda, the team was carrying out “preventative maintenance” on pipeline infrastructure, to be proactive and not have a repeat of the Bree Street explosion just six and a half weeks ago.  

The fire was luckily extinguished within half an hour. Spokesperson of Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Nana Radebe-Kgiba said “five people were injured and assessed on the scene,” with one Egoli Gas employee rushed to the hospital. All the injuries are said to be moderate.  

Firefighters manage the last flames of the Braamfontein gas explosion fire. Photo: Terri-Ann Brouwers.

In a statement, Egoli Gas called the fire on the gas line “unfortunate” and said they will be working more closely with the City of Joburg when carrying out maintenance in future to ensure public safety.   

Floyd Brink, member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) said an investigation is underway to determine the cause. 

The aftermath of the Braamfontein gas explosion fire. Photo: Terri-Ann Brouwers.

FEATURED IMAGE: A crowd look on as a from a gas pipe explosion engulfs a maintenance truck and a nearby vacant building. Photo by Terri-Ann Brouwers.


Wits to revolutionize journalism through research centre 

Through advanced scholarship and direct engagement, the purpose of this Centre connects with evolving African journalism, fostering a link between academia, professionals, and the public. 

The Wits Journalism department was formally rebranded as the Wits Centre for Journalism, signifying a new chapter in its academic journey. The launch to mark the shift was held on Friday, August 10 at the Wits Club on West Campus.  

Inaugurated in 2001 within the Graduate Centre for Humanities then integrated into School of Literature, Languages and Media SLLM, the Wits Journalism department began as a postgraduate initiative that was coordinated by Eve Bertelsen. Anton Harbor assumed the externally funded Chair in Journalism, becoming its first department head and as they say, the rest is history. 

According to the Wits website, a centre (centre of excellence) is a name used to refer to a research unit in the university which has maintained a high level of consistent research and external funding. The Wits Centre for Journalism (WCJ) has done this through projects like the Africa-China reporting project, the Justice Project and the annual State of the Newsroom report. Harber said, “Wits Journalism becoming a centre is a natural evolution.” 

The keynote speech by Judge Bernard Ngoepe underscored the importance of responsible education and research in the field of journalism. “The media can change a country’s course in history… All of the brutality of 1976 [the Soweto Uprising] was exposed to the whole world through one picture. That is how powerful the media is,” he said.  

Ngoepe also touched on the ethical fault lines in South African journalism today, which he said comes from the need to “get the scoop first”, something which can ruin reputations and lives with very little recourse he lamented.  

Dr Dinesh Balliah, WCJ’s inaugral director, said that the work done at the centre for journalism would not be possible without the support of its industry partners, who continue to support budding journalists through bursaries and work opportunities. 

Former student and Wits Vuvuzela journalist, Tannur Anders is one such recipient and now works as financial journalist at Thomson Reuters.  

She said, “It is great to be here for the official launch of the Wits Centre for Journalism; I studied at Wits last year and it was just the most amazing experience, not only did I learn a lot about journalism, what’s news and what’s newsworthy but I made really great friends.” 

FEATURED IMAGE: Director of the Wits Centre for Journalism Dr Dinesh Balliah on the far left with fellow attendees at the Wits Club for the launch of the Centre. Photo by: Kimberley Kersten


Wits lecturers co-launch jazz albums 

Powerful African rhythms and poignant reflections on post-apartheid complexities. 

Bokani Dyer performing one of Vuma Levin’s movements titled, Chaphela. Photo by: Ayanda Mgwenya

Renowned jazz artists, Vuma Levin and Benjamin Jephta, took to the Chris Seabrooke Music Hall stage, on July 29, 2023, for a combined album launch called The Narratives. 

Levin is a guitarist, recipient of the 2021 Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz award and holds a master’s degree from the Amsterdam Conservatorium in Music. 

Jephta is a bassist and composer and has performed with prominent international artists like Dianne Reeves and Terri-lyne Carrington.

Levin is a jazz studies lecturer while Jephta lectures in both jazz and film music. 

Renowned jazz maestros, such as Sisionke Xonti (saxophonist), Bokani Dyer (pianist), Tlale Makhene (percussionist), and Jonno Sweetman (drummer), performed alongside the two during the launch.

The evening was divided into two sets. Levin kicked off the night with tracks from his fifth album, The Past is Unpredictable, Only the Future is Certain, performing 2/3 parts of the album: The first one titled The Past is Unpredictable with movements Gijima and Chaphela and the second one titled Prayers Made From Grass with Homily and Rites

Led by Tlale’s poetic chants and Xonti’s melodious sounds, an African rhythmic experience was created. The inclusion of African instruments like the udu ceramic drum, cymbals, chimes, ankle rattles, and triangles added a distinct African essence. 

Levin said, “The album blends indigenous and western musical instruments, making it a unique and special representation of Pan Africanism in music.” 

Following a short intermission, the spotlight shifted to Jephta’s set, performing his Born Coloured, not Born-Free album, Jephta’s compositions delve into the complexities of race in South Africa. The music encapsulated his personal experiences as a coloured male in post-Apartheid South Africa.  

Jephta’s set featured soulful tracks like An Incomplete Transition and Gadija (part 1), a heartfelt tribute to his grandmother. The bass-driven Ben-Dhlamini Stomp earned him a standing ovation. Closing the show, Jephta’s last two movements, Acceptance/metamorphosis and Resurgence, delighted the crowd with its infectious rhythm and captivating melody, leaving them singing and bobbing along. 

Speaking about the two musicians, Wits Music lecturer, Dr Peter Cartwright said, “They are both new in the permanent staff… so it’s a way to welcome them, you know, with their first public concert.” 

Elliot Rogers, third year music student said, “Benjamin Jephta is my lecturer for ensemble, and I do guitar [classes] with Vuma Levin; and seeing this concert where their music is coming together is a beautiful sight, looking at it from a [scholastic] lens.” 

The Narratives concert got the audience singing and clapping throughout, the multiple standing ovations received on the night spoke to the pair’s expansive talents.  

FEATURED IMAGE: Benjamin Jephta performing his bass-driven composition, Ben-Dhlamini Stomp, at the Chris Seabrooke Music Hall. Photo by: Ayanda Mgwenya


JHB CBD explosion: “I was scared, I thought it was an earthquake!”

Taxi driver, Samuel Lambane painfully looks at his taxi that was stuck in the road rapture, he said the ordeal has left him traumatised. Photo by: Ayanda Mgwenya

A suspected gas explosion on one of Johannesburg’s busiest streets, has led to one fatality and scores of injuries and hospitalisations.   

It was an ordinary Wednesday evening, with peak time traffic picking up and queues filled with passengers waiting for a ride home, when taxi driver, Samuel Lambane suddenly saw a blue spark and then a loud bang.  

“I saw a massive blue spark like it was a lightning bolt and then I heard the sound of two explosions coming in front and behind me,” Lambane said. His taxi was briefly airborne before hitting the ground with a thud that shattered all the windows. He said he jumped to the conclusion that it might be an earthquake.

The explosion experienced by Lambane and others on July 19, remains an active crime scene as police and other authorities begin to investigate the root cause of incident.  

Another eyewitness, Sanele Gumede told Wits Vuvuzela that the lingering smell of gas in the air “is very concerning”, especially as almost 16 hours had passed since the incident. Officials on site handed out face masks to some to respond to the air quality concern on Thursday morning.  

To keep residents, business owners and the public at large safe, the area has been cordoned off and several streets completely closed off. Shops on Bree, Eloff, Simmonds, Harrison, Loveday and Lillian Ngoyi streets have also been shuttered down as a precaution.Speaking at a media briefing at the temporary disaster management operations centre set up at Mary Fitzgerald Square, Gauteng Premier, Panyaza Lesufi said no cause has been identified as yet.  

Egoli Gas, a supplier of piped natural gas in the city, released a statement on social media refuting reports that faulty gas lines may be to blame.  

But Lesufi said: “Egoli gas remains our centre of focus because all of us agree that the cause of this either explosion or impact is gas.” 

For now, dealing with the impact on human lives remains key. Lesufi said rehabilitation of affected areas must happen speedily to reduce the “impact on the economic activity of the city.”  

FEATURED IMAGE: Taxi flipped over at Bree Street in CBD after the gas explosion. Photo by: Ayanda Mgwenya


University Corner renamed to honour Es’kia Mphahlele

The name change was delayed by the covid-19 pandemic, but the home of the Wits Art Museum is now linked to the ‘illustrious author of two autobiographies, more than 30 short stories, two verse plays and a fair number of poems’.

The plaque signifying the change of name of University Corner to the Es’kia Mphahlele Building. Photo: Ayanda Mgwenya

Wits University has officially renamed University Corner as the Es’kia Mphahlele Building in honour of the late legendary journalist, author and academic, on Thursday, June 1, 2023.

Officiating at the ceremony that took place on the ground floor of the building at the corner of Jorissen and Bertha streets, Vice-Chancellor Zeblon Vilakazi said that this gesture was “long overdue” and believed that there were many more [legendary African pioneers] yet to be recognised. “Personally, to have the privilege of having the [Mphahlele family] here to witness this historic occasion is truly humbling,” he said.

Mphahlele was the first black professor at Wits University in the 1980s and founded the one-of-a-kind department of African Literature in 1983, which explores aspects of history, politics, indigenous knowledge, traditions and cultural heritage. He was also one of the founders of the first black independent publishing house, Skotaville in 1982.

The building houses some of the literature- and culture-related departments associated with Mphahlele’s work, such as the Wits Art Museum, the Wits Centre for Diversity Studies, Voice of Wits FM (Vow FM), Drama for Life and the Wits Centre for Journalism.

In a media statement released after his death on October 27, 2008, then minister of arts and culture, Pallo Jordan, described Mphahlele, who was born in Marabastad, Pretoria on December 17, 1919, as a “doyen of African letters”.

“Soft-spoken, humble, urbane, cosmopolitan, erudite and exuding ubuntu, Es’kia Mphahlele embodied in his person and in his work what he described as ‘the personification of the African paradox – detribalised, westernised but still African’,” wrote Jordan, who also described him as the “illustrious author of two autobiographies, more than thirty short stories, two verse plays and a fair number of poems”.

The statement continued: “’Add to these, two anthologies edited, essay collections, innumerable single essays, addresses, awards and a Nobel Prize nomination for literature and what emerges is to many the Dean of African Letters,’ writes Peter Thuynsma, a leading Mphahlele scholar, in Perspectives on South African English Literature (1992: 221).”

Rorisang Maruatona-Mphahlele, Mphahlele’s grandson, said, “I am actually overjoyed because [Wits University] was my first choice of university but I didn’t get in; I went to University of Johannesburg instead where I found [The Es’kia Mphahlele Room] and was overjoyed to find that at U.” He feels thrilled that “Wits University is doing the same.”

Acting SRC president Kabelo Phungwayo said that the change of name for the building was proposed in 2020 by former SRC president, Mpendulo Mfeka, and championed by former SRC transformation officer, Luci Khofi. As the year 2019 marked a century since the birth of Mphahlele, this motivated the plan to change the name of University Corner.

Phungwayo told Wits Vuvuzela that, “The SRC sees [Mphahlele] as a revolutionary scholar who shaped the [African] discourses in literature, and it teaches us African humanism as students.” He added that the SRC would like to encourage students to look into Mphahlele’s educational journey for inspiration as they undergo their studies as well.

Wits head of communications Shirona Patel said that the delay of the name change was caused by the covid-19 pandemic.

The name change ceremony concluded with Vilakazi unveiling the name plaque to applause by the guests bearing witness to this occasion.

FEATURED IMAGE: The Es’kia Mphahlele Building at the corner of Jorissen and Bertha streets is one of the tallest buildings in Braamfontein. Photo: Ayanda Mgwenya


WITH GALLERY: Wits reses battle it out

The All Res Sports Day brings students living at Wits University residences together, in a day of sweaty but friendly play.  

The All Res Sun-Council (ARSC) hosted their annual sports day at Digs field, pitting residences against one other for a podium finish.

Barnato Hall, Noswal Hall, David Webster Hall, Wits Junction, Girton Hall, Sunnyside Hall, Jubilee Hall, Reith Hall, Amani, Braamfontein Centre Residence, Medhurst Hall, West Campus Village, Knockando Hall, Ernest Oppenheimer Hall (EOH) and Men’s Res took to the fields and courts to compete on May 13, 2023. 

Sports such as netball, soccer, basketball, touch rugby, chess and indigenous games were played throughout the day.  

ARSC media officer, Basetsane Sithole said “This year we are really excited to try make it as big as possible [by] involving sponsors such as Redbull; this is an event for us to get the reses back together again because we haven’t done anything like this since O-week [orientation week].” 

Khethani Makhithi, Junction men’s soccer coach said, “Junction is not a well-established football team with a strong heritage like Knockendo which is known for its football prowess.”  

Makhithi said even though the match against Knockando ended in a 1-1 draw, but won in penalties, he believes it was a tight game throughout.  

Asemahle Mazamela, netball referee during a clash off between Wits Junction and Noswal said that the match went well besides the fact that “the other team [Wits Junction] only had 5 players but they tried,” which unfortunately led them to an early knockout. 

Phenyo Leornard Moje, a player for Noswal netball team was injured in the first quarter of the final match against Barnato. He felt guilty for not being able to help his team in the first two quarters of the match. Despite not being fully healed, he decided to rejoin the game in third and fourth quarter of the match. 

At the end of the sports day, the reses who came third, second and first place each received trophies and medals.  

The first-place winners were:  

  • EOH in touch rugby, men’s basketball  
  • Barnato in netball, Barnato in women’s basketball and Barnato in women’s soccer 
  • Braam Centre in men’s soccer 
  • Men’s res in chess 
  • Reith Hall in all the indigenous games 
  • The spirit award was given to David Webster  

The games all ended in high spirits as the winners celebrated and danced on the courts, Neliswa Mpangeni, one of the spectators from Noswal Hall said that she has been at Digs filed since 8 in the morning and enjoyed supporting her team who were participating in the different sports. 

The sports day concluded with roaring cheers and jubilation. The reses showcased their skills and sportsmanship, plus made memories were made that would last a lifetime. 

FEATURED IMAGE: EOH playing touch rugby against Men’s res Photo: Ayanda Mgwenya


RUGBY: Lions roar to victory  

The Lions triumphed with a dominant 40-19 victory over the junior Springboks, showcasing their rugby prowess.  

In a gripping showdown at Wits rugby stadium on May 11, 2023, the u/20 Springboks fell short against the Lions in an action-packed friendly rugby match.  

The Lions’ scrum-half secures the ball after the scrum in the match. Photo: Ayanda Mgwenya

In the first half of the match the junior Springboks seemed to be in control, scoring the opening five point try of the match followed by a successful two-point conversion kick. 

Shortly after, the Lions scored their first try and conversion kick, bringing the scoreboard to an even 7-7. The junior Springboks answered with, yet another try and conversion to gain a seven-point lead. But that was short lived as the Lions quickly matched them with another try and conversion, ending the first half on 14 points apiece.  

The second half of the match got off to a slower start, but the same pace of play was quickly picked up 10 minutes into the half, when the Lions scored a try that saw them in the lead with 21-14. Just a few minutes later another try shot them up to 26-14.  

A decisive scrum saw the junior Springboks wrestle back some momentum, but it was not enough to stop yet another try and conversion by the Lions, who sat pretty at 33-14. By the end of the game, the junior Springboks only added five points to their side of the scoreboard, while the Lions won with a 21-point difference.  

The Lions and u/20 Springboks fans are mixed-seated on the grandstands and they intensely watch the friendly rugby game. Photo: Ayanda Mgwenya

The energy from the field could be felt in the stands as fans’ audible excitement accompanied every tackle and try.  

Prince Mavundla, a spectator said, “The game was really nice; even though the Lions were dominating the game, my favourite team is the [junior Springboks].” 

Kelly Mpeku, who plays the outside-centre for the Lions and first try scorer of the match said, “It was a good game [and] very physical. I’m glad the boys [teammates] came through at the end of the day.” 

Springbok coach, Bafana Nhleko said that the match is part of their journey and the team’s learning curve that will prepare them for their match against the Sharks on Monday, 15. 

FEATURED IMAGE: The ball is thrown in during a lineout and secured by one of the junior Springboks. Photo: Ayanda Mgwenya


Privilege, freedom and the future

Students weighed in on whether the ANC will remain relevant in a South Africa that is getting increasingly younger, report by Ayanda Mgwenya and Morongoa Masebe.

Twenty-nine years on, young people feel alienated from the ruling party and think it’s time for change. This was the overwhelming sentiment at a dialogue hosted by Wits University’s Amnesty Society.  

The privilege walk 

The event hosted as part of Freedom Month celebrations saw the Wits outdoor ampitheatre transformed into a stage on which student’s varying levels of privilege was put to the test.  

All attendees were instructed to stand in a horizontal line and asked a series of questions pertaining their geographical background, parental presence, financial status, race and more. 

The attendees were asked questions about their experiences with skipping meals, worrying about school fees, and being the first in their family to graduate. Depending on these answers, students had to step forwards or backwards.  

Mthobisi Thwala, Wits student said, “I thought more people would be in the frontline just like me, but this exercise has made me aware of the existence of dynamics around different geographical backgrounds.” 

While performative, the exercise drives home the point about the very real implications of living in one of the most unequal countries in the world.  

Attendees of the community dialogue responding to the ‘privilege walk’ questions asked by the Wits Amnesty Society Chairperson Photo: Morongoa Masebe

The dialogue session 

The second part of the evening opened a dialogue with attendees. Deputy chairperson of Wits Amnesty, Florentine Vangu asked “Twenty- nine years on, should Nelson Mandela’s legacy be celebrated for the democratic and human rights change it brought to South Africa or should it be criticized for focusing too much on peace and reconciliation and not enough on addressing the historical impact of apartheid on the socio- economic status and problems still faced by black, coloured and Indian people today?”

Responses were mixed but most attendees expressed dissatisfaction over what they called the “negotiated settlement” and the lingering legacy of Apartheid in their everyday lives.  

UNICEF chairperson of the Wits branch, Siphesihle Mkhwanazi told Wits Vuvuzela that youth-led conversations like this need to be “broadcast nationally because [citizens of South Africa] have to have uncomfortable conversations in order to have a feasible future”. 

When Vungu asked, “to what extent do you agree or disagree that the ANC is no longer relatable to the everyday black South African”? Most of the students who responded, agreed with the statement. 

Wits SRC Compliance Officer, Karabo Matloga was in awe of the discussion because he admires the gathering of active young people who “shape discussions and the narratives to change the state of the economy [in South Africa]”. The hope is that more engagements like this will take place ahead of the 2024 nation election.  

FEATURED IMAGE: Attendees seated during the community dialogue. Photo: Ayanda Mgwenya


Wits to build a new cutting-edge sports complex  

The sports facility is set to be a flagship Wits centenary project for prospectus student athletes. The university celebrated its centenary last year.  

The unveiled plaque of The Brian and Dorothy Zylstra Sports Complex at Wits Education. Photo: Ayanda Mgwenya

Wits has received a whooping R250 million donation towards the building of The Wits Brian and Dorothy Zylstria Sports Complex for student athletes. The complex is set to boost the university’s athletic prospects and support the next generation of athletes. The announcement was officially made during the launch ceremony hosted at Wits Education Campus, on May 4.   

The director of Wits Sport and Health, Professor John Patricios said the donor — Zylstra’s family foundation Skye — has enormously contributed not only to the enrichment of the future generation athletes but also towards remodeling Wits University’s disposition in sports.  

During the ceremony, the representative of the Zylstra family, Phil Zylstria said, “My father [Brian Zylstria] studied at Wits in the 1960s, and the university changed his life. He was a governor at the university, and he raised money for the university.” 

He added that his father has always been thankful for what the university has done for him, and that is why he started the foundation in 1997. 

The Zylstria family has been giving Wits student athletes scholarships since 1998, through the foundation, as a form of gratitude towards the university’s influence in the late Wits alumnus’ life.  

The family believes this sports complex will benefit the surrounding communities in Johannesburg and bring positive change.  

Patricios, emphasized the transformative impact of the sports facility, stating that, “this complex will revolutionize what Wits can offer in sports and exercise-medicine.”  

The complex has three pillars of focus: academic, research and clinical management. In a statement released by the university on the day of the ceremony, it said the sports facility will incorporate sports science training, research, and practical clinical applications. It will consist of state-of-the-arts therapeutic amenities, a swimming center, and a residential area with 44 beds dedicated to accommodating top-tier athletes. 

The sports complex will accommodate Wits student athletes and other high performing tertiary students around the community of Johannesburg who may come from intuitions without adequate sports facilities. 

At the end of the ceremony, the dean of student affairs at Wits University, Jerome September, delighted attendees by unveiling a remarkable surprise during the event – a Wits Sports book authored by Dr Jonty Winty. The book chronicles the rich history of sports at Wits University, dating back a century. As a thoughtful gesture, each attendee was gifted a copy of it, allowing them to cherish and reflect upon the university’s sporting heritage.  

The architectural plans have been distributed and the building construction is set to commence early January 2024 and set to be completed in 2025/26. 

FEATURED IMAGE: Representative of the Zystra family and Sky Foundation, Phil Zylstra, Wits vice-chancellor Zeblon Vilakazi and Jon Patricios, Professor of Sport and Exercise Medicine, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty Health Sciences at Wits unveil the Wits Brian and Dorothy Zylstra Sports Complex plaque. Photo: Ayanda Mgwenya


Braamfontein street rocks to the sound of music

Duo captivates passers-by with energetic performance, bringing excitement and joy to the community.

A small crowd did not deter two musicians from giving a stellar performance on Bertha Street, Braamfontein on Tuesday, May 2, 2023.

Their soulful performance left the small audience in awe, and passers-by were so captivated they would stop for a moment to listen to singer and guitarist, Zimbabwe-born Vusumuzi Mkandla, and guitarist Nkanyezi Mazibuko who hails from KwaZulu-Natal.

The duo performed songs by well-known South African musicians including the likes of Zahara, Nathi Mankayi and the late Robbie Malinga. Mkandla’s countryman, the late Oliver Mtukudzi, also featured in their list of songs, as did Tracy Chapman, Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber.

Vusumuzi Mkandla performs the track Bekezela by the artist Bekezela: Photo: Ayanda Mgwenya

They told Wits Vuvuzela that this was their first time busking in Braamfontein and they appreciated the warm reception and monetary contributions as a token of appreciation, encouragement and support.

“I am still quite new in the industry,” said Mkandla. “I started playing the guitar in 2019/20 and started singing in 2022.”

The two met on social media platform TikTok in January and decided to collaborate. In March they established their music production company, Mbuso Production, with the hope that one day they would build a musical empire that would connect people, especially in Africa, through music.

“We usually perform at the streets in Maboneng, and we’ve just begun doing gigs at a local restaurant in Maboneng called Bertrand Café,” Mazibuko said.

A woman who was in the small crowd said that this was a welcome experience for her because school had drained her. “I enjoyed the performance,” she said.

Mazibuko and Mkandla ended with a performance of their very first original song titled Inyok’encane. They plan to release their first joint extended play (EP) in July followed by Mkandla’s second album in September.

FEATURED IMAGE: Vusumuzi Mkandla and Nkanyezi Mazibuko perform in front of a small crowd in Braamfontein. Photo: Ayanda Mgwenya


Success can be engineered through holistic education

Individualised learning, teacher development, educational resources, infrastructure and parental involvement are all needed if students are to excel.

Parental involvement is key in achieving academic success – this was one of the takeaways from a seminar on holistic education hosted by Mookodi Mokoatl, an engineering student at Wits University.

The seminar, titled ‘Holistic Investment in Education’ was facilitated by Mokoatle at Wits main campus on April 21, 2023.

“We cannot expect, especially black parents, who were never exposed to the same education system to support their children education-wise. That is why Lehae Arcadia is there to bridge that gap, to support parents and show them different ways to involve them in their children’s educational lives,” Mokoatle said.

He added that that lack of adequate resources and infrastructure are among the disadvantages that prohibit quality education, and actively distress and derail teachers and lecturers in the facilitation of classes.

“The goal is to promote a more sustainable and equitable future for all through comprehensive learning,” he said.

Guest speaker, Dr. Ben Mahadu, associate lecturer at Wits said, “Education needs financial resources because ultimately, it needs to produce marketable graduates who will know how to communicate, who will understand leadership skills and know how to do presentations.”

Another guest speaker, Dr. Bernard Langton, college principal at CBC Mount Edmund said, “We need to probate the private sector, which is the business sector, to get involved in education.”

Langton emphasised collaboration across sectors and reminded attendees that while “the legacy of apartheid is present, we can’t always blame the apartheid regime”.

David Saleh, one of the attendees and Mokoatle’s colleague said, “The seminar has helped me understand my purpose, that I am here to innovate and to impact change, and simply not be a workforce.” Bachelor of Education student, Kamogelo Chauke said, “I attended the seminar with intention. Hopefully, we can start our own Holistic Education Institution that will break beyond the boundary of the current curriculum.”

Mookodi hopes to use his engineering expertise to further develop his educational consulting company, Lehae Acadia and hopes that one day he could become a teacher because of his great passion for education.

FEATURED IMAGE: From the left: guest speaker Dr Ben Mahadu, Dr Bernard Langton, host and CEO of Lehae Arcadia Mookodi Mokoatle, CEO of AnalyticsX Talifhani Banks and David Saleh at the far right are listening to Dr Irene Kamar as she renders her presentation at the seminar. Photo: Mojela Mahlatsi /Supplied