Tuks SRC Elections still under investigation

Afriforum Youth, EFFSC UP (Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command of University of Pretoria)  and SASCO (South African Students Congress) marched at University of Pretoria, demanding that SRC elections be re-held after claiming that the elections have been rigged. However, the university is still investigating and presently the preliminary results still stand.

The protests have been ongoing since DASO, the DA student party won most seats and the position of the president in the elections held two weeks ago. The university is still conducting an investigation and have so far opted for a recount and not yet called for re-election.

The dispute started after SASCO released a statement on Facebook stating that “one of our party agents notified us of a discrepancy at one of the voting stations (IT voting station) in which the votes and the voters roll did not correlate (58 more votes than voters); which is not unusual in this institution- it’s a practice they have enjoyed for too long.”

They also claimed that votes were rigged in favour of the DA, and that some polling station boxes were found unsealed.

This was later accompanied by Twitter and Facebook posts of photos that show the open ballot boxes.


Since the university launched the investigation, the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) has met with concerned parties for a recount and full audit. Prof. Themba Mosia, vice-principal of student affairs and residences, stated in a media release, “In terms of its constitutional mandate, the IMB has found that a full recount of the SRC election votes must take place in the presence of staff from the Department of Student Affairs (DSA), the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), candidates or party representatives, and the internal auditor authorised to complete the audit.” Prof. Mosia emphasised that the IMB has not yet made a decision on whether or not the elections were free and fair.

“This is another tool to silence student activism,” .
According to Naledi Chirwa, the EFFSC-UP’s legal and transformation officer, “a recount won’t be feasible as a lot of time has passed and the votes have already been tampered with thus not making it optimal at this stage.” “This is another tool to silence student activism,” Chirwa said. Wits Vuvuzela contacted University of Pretoria’s management for an update on the investigation and was told “all the processes regarding the SRC elections have not been finalized.”  


*Sourced from http://www.sabc.co.za/news/a/b20e3d8049ba185e840dd4fb3b358805/University-of-Pretoria-refutes-vote-rigging-claims-20150409 and http://www.perdeby.co.za/sections/news/tuks-news/4514-src-preliminary-election-results-challenged



Q&A with Tish White

Photo: Boipelo Boikhutso

Photo: Boipelo Boikhutso

Tish White works at the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Advocacy Projects which include Safe Zones and Wits Pride. They also do day-to-day administration of the Next Generation Carnegie and coordinates the annual Wits Photographic Competition. They are also part of the Wits Transformation and Employment Equity Office.

You have once highlighted the importance of asking people what pronouns they prefer. So what pronouns do you use?

Thank you for asking, my pronouns are they, them, they.

What do those signify?

For me, my pronouns are as anybody else’s are, a marker of somebody else respecting my gender. So when somebody calls me “they”, this is Tish, they are awesome person, it is an affirmation of my gender just as it an affirmation of somebody else who is cisgender.

As part of the Wits Pride month, Activate, GALA and Ctrl Alt Gender have been having various activities and discussions to commemorate. How important are these to the Wits community?

Basically Varsity Pride is jam-packed two-weeks full of amazing initiatives. We’ve got a number of things that we feel are important in terms of building information around LGBTIAQ+ communities. We have initiatives that celebrate LGBTIAQ+ people in our university community. It is a signifier of taking back a space that is so often seen as being hegemonic, heteronormative and cisnormative.

The university has given support and we now have Wits Pride which started as a mere march. What is crucial is the common theme of pushing the respect and getting people to understand what LGBTIAQ+ identities are.


The Rhodes Must Fall campaign highlighted the need for transformation of Higher Education, in your opinion, what does this entail with regards to the LGBT community?

I think it has been a moment for all of us to contemplate what transformation means in our spaces. When coming to LGBTIAQ+ it is something that I think that goes with other structures and other struggles. A woman can be a lesbian, black and Zimbabwean for example, and all these identities and all of this come together in understanding intersectionalities. The movement in my opinion was about understanding intersectionalities and how we relate to spaces with them.


Do you think gay sex education should be taught in high school?

It is very important that we have systems that are supportive of our young LGBTIAQ+ people. We know that these people are in spaces where they are learning about their identities. They are coming to terms with dealing with adolescence and they do not need things to be made harder for them by a schooling system that does not offer them information around safer sex.


If it gets implemented in the curriculum, what should be avoided?

It would be important to steer clear of essentialist stereotypes and to manage the dialogue around safer sex effectively.

Caitlyn Jenner came out as a trans woman. This has shone a light on trans issues. Do you think it is important for people to come out as a means of combat against homophobia and transphobia?

I think that it is amazing that people like Caitlyn are out there. But we need to take a step back and realise that it is not easy to afford surgery in a lot of spaces. It is not easy to be in a space where you could literally be killed for coming out as transgender. What we need to understand is that it is a very personal choice to come out. It should not be at a cost of people’s safety and wellbeing.

Should gay sex education be taught at school?

Same sex marriage was legalised in South Africa back in 2006. This resulted in South Africa being the first African country to do so and only the fifth in the world. This resulted in South Africa being the first African country to do so and only the fifth in the world. The move resulted was a result of the activism around the issue and showed how progressive gender and sexuality legislation in the country is.

However 10 years down the line homophobia still soars amongst communities. People who are part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) communities still suffer from hate crimes.The prevalence of corrective rape signifies that many people still feel that homosexuality is unnatural or immoral behaviour that can be ‘corrected’

Despite the laws that are put in place to protect LGBTI-identifying people, the education system in not as inclusive when it comes to sex education. According to John Marnell of Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA), the organization believes that education can play a driving role in social transformation.

“It is crucial that teachers, learners, parents and other education stakeholders are informed about the rights of the LGBTI people.”

Wits Vuvuzela contacted the department of basic education for comment but they could not be reached as of press time.

For LGBT activist, Lindsey Moema, if high school curriculum included gay sex education, her high school life would have been better.

“My high-school days were the worst, growing up in a rural area where trasies (derogatory word for lesbians) were frowned upon, I lacked understanding of my sexuality which would have helped me to explain my sexuality to others.”

Deevia Bhana author of Under Pressure: The Regulation of Sexualities in South African Secondary Schools, found a link between homophobia and expressions of masculinities. According to her, learners frown upon other homosexual pupils because of a “compulsory heterosexuality culture”.

According to Ivan Sabljak, a paramedic and microbiology Wits student, sex education has always been a “contentious issue regardless of content”

“There are schools out there that still teach kids only abstinence, with no mention of condoms, dental dams, lubricants, STDs, pregnancy tests, abortifacients. Gay sex hasn’t been included yet because the field is still very resistant to change.”

Some people have shown concern over the possibility of having gay sex education included in the high school, curriculum. “Sexual intercourse between a man and a woman is taught so that we know how to procreate, whereas gay sex is purely for pleasure, and pleasure differs for everyone,” social media consultant, Darron Diesel said.

One thing that is common though is that if gay sex education is included in the curriculum, there should be much thought put in the process of how it would be taught without it being too explicit for learners.

Tish White, the project coordinator of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Advocacy told Wits Vuvuzela that it would be important to “steer clear of essentialist stereotypes, and to manage dialogue around safer sex effectively.”

Witsies put to the (polygraph) test

OUR HANDS ARE CLEAN: After taking the polygraph test and being cleansed, Zahraa Khaki and Miriam Hookey posed for a picture, to show their support for the fight against corruption. Photo: Boipelo Boikhutso

OUR HANDS ARE CLEAN: After taking the polygraph test and being cleansed, Zahraa Khaki and Miriam Hookey show their support for the fight against corruption at an exhibition held on the Wits Library lawns today. Photo: Boipelo Boikhutso

The Unite Against Corruption campaign uses a series of fun tests to raise awareness about corruption. This week, the campaign came to Wits University.

Witsies took the ultimate test on Tuesday as they were subjected to a polygraph machine and a sangoma. The students participated in the Unite Against Corruption (UAC) interactive exhibit held on the Wits Library Lawns and took the polygraph test before getting their hands washed by the traditional healer.

Using what was called a “digital cleanser” that consisted of a “modern sangoma” cleansing students of corruption, the recently-formed coalition along with Corruption Watch, also ran a lie-detector test using a polygraph machine.

Students were encouraged to speak out against corruption. Miriam Hookey, first year General BA, took the test because she was curious about the testing process.

“Corruption is plaguing our country, we need to make South Africa better,” Hookey said.

Tina Power, the chairperson of Students for Law and Social Justice, and one of the UAC campaigners, told Wits Vuvuzela that the idea behind the polygraph machine test, was to “show that our hands are clean”.

The machine was custom-set for the event as a lie-detection process normally takes 90 minutes.

The UAC will be hosting a number of public marches against corruption in the coming weeks with one in Pretoria and another in Cape Town.

Oscar and Thembikile: Unequal justice in South Africa

Oscar Pistorius. Photo: Themba Hadebe Oscar Pistorius was due to be released on parole from the Kgosi Mampuru II prison this Friday.

His possible release to house arrest, once again questions the inequalities in the justice system of South Africa.

Pistorius was convicted of killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, last year. He was found guilty of culpable homicide despite prosecutor’s pursuing charges of first degree murder. In his defence, Pistorius claimed that he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder and so he was acting in self-defence. He was sentenced to five years but he will likely be paroled after only 10 months due to good behaviour.

In the same prison, two months ago a man strode out of prison after being wrongfully convicted 11 years ago. Thembekile Molaudzi, a taxi driver from Soshanguve, was arrested in 2002 after a co-accused falsely identified him as one of the suspects.

“Molaudzi, a former taxi-driver, was reliant on over-worked Legal Aid lawyers provided by the State while Pistorius, an affluent celebrity, had access to some of the best legal minds in the country,” Carolyn Raphaely, a Wits Justice Project Senior Journalist said.

Legal Aid are lawyers who are tasked with representing poor people who cannot afford to pay for their own representation. But they are often not able to properly defend their clients, something Pistorius did not have to worry about.

While Molaudzi was struggling to access the transcripts of his trial and having his Legal Aid lawyers fail him repeatedly, Oscar Pistorius had his trial quickly concluded with a very strong legal team with the tenacious Barry Roux as the lead.

The fact that Pistorius had a speedy trial was also a sign of the special treatment that might have been afforded him. According to Wits Justice, many people wait years for their trials to begin.

“A third of the South African prison population is locked up awaiting trial, many for years. Yet approximately two in five of these people will eventually be acquitted.”

“A third of the South African prison population is locked up awaiting trial, many for years. Yet approximately two in five of these people will eventually be acquitted.”

Molaudzi received life imprisonment for murder and robbery and the eleven years he spent wrongly imprisoned were traumatic ones.

Molaudzi reported that he and fellow prisoners were “made to strip naked and tortured by warders for no reason. We were made to squat up and down in front of females with our genitals showing for everyone to see. They shocked us with shock-shields, just for fun. And they klapped me because they said I was a gangster.”

In Pistorius’ case, prison officials recommended that he be released due to good behaviour.  According to Stephan Terblanche of the University of South Africa, the state’s prisons are overcrowded, so parole boards regularly recommend correctional supervision which includes house arrest.

The National Prosecuting Authority have filed an appeal against Pistorius’ culpable homicide conviction in the hope that it will be changed to murder which would result in a longer sentence. The appeal will be heard in November.

Gender issues also affect men

THE PANELISTS: Right to left: Professor Bonita Meyersfeld, Justice Kate O'Regan and Advocate Kemeshni Pillay discuss Gebder disposition in South Africa. Photo: Boipelo Boikhutso

THE PANELLISTS: from left to right: Professor Bonita Meyersfeld, Justice Kate O’Regan and Advocate Kameshni Pillay discuss the complexity of gender in South Africa. Photo: Boipelo Boikhutso

In the midst of various female-focused campaigns and celebrations of Women’s month in South Africa, a group of women intellectuals highlighted the importance of recognizing that gender issues affect not only females but males as well. 

The Ubulili campaign of the Students for Law and Social Justice (SLSJ) at Wits, hosted an all-female panel discussion on the “Current Gender Disposition” in South Africa. The panel, consisting of former Constitutional Court Justice Kate O’ Regan, Advocate Kameshni Pillay and Professor Bonita Meyersfeld, emphasised that gender issues are not exclusive to women.

Justice O’Regan used her findings of the Khayelitsha Commission to explain that gender is construct which affects men in less obvious ways. According to her, young men in Cape Town succumb to pressures of joining youth gangs as a means of belonging and for personal protection.

“These boys are forced into youth gangs simply because it is seen as a norm in their communities and it is a means of safety for them, but once they’re in, they cannot leave.”

O’Regan also highlighted the issue of sexual orientation-based violence despite the legalization of same-sex marriage in South Africa. Lesbian women still live in fear of corrective rape, and gay men are often bashed because their sexual orientation does not conform to society’s ideas about masculinity.

“We need to be careful about the notions we as a society have on what it means to be feminine or masculine,” Prof Meyersfeld cautioned the audience.

“In order to eliminate gender-based violence, we need to see each other for what we are capable of rather than what group of society one belongs to,” she added.

Cherise Cleverly, the Ubulili coordinator said the aim of the event was to generate a discussion about the “different nuances of gender disposition, that gender issues are not just limited to females, but males as well”.

Males also encounter domestic violence, but there is still a stigma attached to the victims. For Molefe Mphye, a third year BA student from the University of Johannesburg, in his culture, “men are still considered heads of the family, so they cannot be weak, therefore can’t be victims of any form of abuse”.

Cleverly told Wits Vuvuzela that Women’s month should not only focus on the issues that affect women, “but also seek out the root problems which lies in gender roles perceptions that society has”.

Unity against Corruption

The Unite Against Corruption Coalition made a demonstration outside the Johannesburg Constitutional Court yesterday.

By Boipelo Boikhutso

SONG AND DANCE: A man dances to the chants made by the crowd against corruption. Photo: Boipelo Boikhutso


Phansi ne corruption phansi!” Using chants, music and dance, South Africans stood together against corruption.

The newly formed coalition, Unite Against Corruption, organized pickets outside Parliament and the Constitutional Court in response to Police Minister Nathi Nhleko presenting his Nkandla report to the National Assembly.

In Johannesburg, a crowd of protestors, including people from various organizations, trade unions and ordinary South Africans, stood outside the Constitutional Court. The people formed a human chain by holding hands as a symbol of the campaign’s mission, which is to defend the Constitution.

UNITY: The crowd forms a human chain to signify solidarity inst corruption. Photo: Boipelo Boikhutso.

UNITY: The crowd forms a human chain to signify solidarity against corruption. Photo: Boipelo Boikhutso.

According to Mark Heywood, one of the organisers of the protest, the demonstration was not only to support social justice and to seek accountability, but it was also to argue that Nhleko’s Nkandla report was a complete “whitewash”.

The Unite Against Corruption campaign’s aim is to “bring large swathes of society to make a public stand for an end to the corruption that has eroded every aspect of our lives.” Heywood told Wits Vuvuzela that the public demands support for and respect of the Public Protector and Chapter 9 institutions.

Ntobiyebongo Tshabalala, of the Right2Know campaign, told Wits Vuvuzela that she is confident that the campaign will make a change in the transparency and the accountability of the government. In relation to Nhleko’s report on Nkandla, Tshabalala told Wits Vuvuzela: “I think they are still hiding a lot from us, we need transparency in this country.”

Different organizations, such as the Right2Know, the National Union of Metalworkers SA and Greenpeace as well as individuals pledged their support in public. These include the former general secretary of the Congress of SA Trade Unions, ZwelinzimaVavi, who made a speech in reference to the corruption in the Nkandla case.

Also present were Wits students like Tina Power, the chairperson of the Students for Law and Social Justice, a Wits organisation,

Former Cosatu Secretary General, Zwelinzima Vavi  addresses the masses outside the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg. Photo: Boipelo Boikhutso.

Former Cosatu General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi addresses the masses outside the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg. Photo: Boipelo Boikhutso.

“As students it is time to take control of our future and ensure that this culture of corruption does not become a tradition,” Power said.

The demonstration was also an opportunity to mobilise and rally more people to the big march that will be taking place on September 23. One march will be held in Pretoria at the Union Buildings and the other will be held in Cape Town at the Parliament.

Q&A with Jaco Oelofse

Jaco Oelofse. Boipelo Boiikhutso

FEMINIST FIGHTER: The EFF’s Jaco Oelofse. Photo: Boipelo Boikhutso

Jaco Oelofse is a philosophy and political sciences graduate from University of Pretoria. He is also an EFF member, a former Secretary General of Tuks EFF and describes himself as a feminist. He is currently doing his internship at the Wits Centre for Cultural Diversity.

You are part of the anti-racist forum at the University of Pretoria, what is your take on the call for transformation of higher education?

Firstly, we do not see transformation as a necessity, but rather as decolonisation. Transformation in my opinion is too liberal, the problem with transformation is that it just wants to cover the racial make up of an institution, fill a specific racial quota.

Whereas a decolonialisation project goes deeper to the roots of the problems that we are identifying in transformation as well. For the decolonial project is concerned with universities’ curriculums (sic) which are very eurocentric. This also includes an attitude of transformation around gender and sexuality, which includes studies of feminism and queer theory.

Essentially we are working towards an African university in Africa not just a university in Africa.

Speaking of feminism, you have described yourself as a feminist, what lead to that?

Well, basically I think it all started with the fact that I have a very strong mother. Even before I subscribed to feminism I had these tendencies and associations with women and their struggles for two reasons.

Firstly because I could see strength in my mother and secondly because I am queer and as queer people, we identify with sexual and gender-based oppression. So it is easy for me to understand, sympathize and empathize with women on that level.

For me, feminism is not just about equality, but freeing men from patriarchy as they are also oppressed by the standards of patriarchy. Why can’t men be who they want to be rather than what they are expected to be? Feminism is about freeing both men and women.

EFF members are often thought to be anti-white, how has your experience been, not only as a white member?

I think we must first understand how the EFF is portrayed in the media …  by a very white media. So they are portraying the EFF as anti-white.

But yes, there are certain individuals in the EFF that are misinterpreting the purpose of the EFF. We must also understand that the EFF is primarily concerned with working class issues, and when the media comes into play, we have a class issue, because the media is primarily bourgeois orientated.

They serve the bourgeois class, they inform the bourgeois class. The EFF is against whiteness, white supremacy and white privilege, not white people. But they are also very clear that if white people stand in their way to transform, then we will remove you out of the way like we will remove anybody who will stand in the way.

The EFF is committed to radical transformation of land and unfortunately, white people control most of the land so obviously they are going to be the targets because they have been holding on to that land for 400 years and you do not want to give it up!

What about the reported cases of EFF members attacking students and a journalist?

We’ve witnessed where the EFF has been caught in situations where there is violence. I was put to investigate the situation and it came down to mostly a ‘he says, she says’. She [the journalist] claimed that it was, and they claimed that they didn’t. Although, there were some loopholes in the arguments. The investigation just died out. But in these instances it is important that we do investigate. We do not tolerate it, especially because it was a female journalist who was assaulted by a group of men.

What is your take on white privilege?

Most people do not even think that it exists. It is invisible; we carry it around with us. Basically it is a concept and reality a white person can be so privileged hat they do not even know they are. The problem today white privilege is the rejection of the fact that you are privileged by being white. You cannot deny that you are privileged.

There was slavery, colonization, apartheid and economic exploitation to benefit from. Most of us still live a above, middle class lifestyle, many of us travel and some are one of the most wealthiest people in the country. I am not saying there aren’t any black powerful people, but it is still small fraction of them.

 Steve Hofmeyer once wrote you an open letter, referring to your beliefs and sexual orientation as a rebellious student phase that is designed to shock older generations with something new. What was your response to that?

I have actually never read the letter. I refuse to read the letter. I got a lot of comments from friends and random people so I know what the letter was about but I never personally read it. And up to this day, I still refuse to read it because it is like reading a verse out of Satan’s bible or something. It is unholy, it is evil, it comes from a very sick and twisted human being.

And I do not want to read that. But what I took from it, from what I was told is that he is a liar. He clearly has never read Karl Marx in his life. And when I say read I mean, read, not just opening a book and flipping through the pages. I did not read Karl Marx. I was reading with Karl Marx to produce higher forms of understanding.

Now if Steve Hofmeyer had actually read Karl Marx, he would’ve produced a higher form of understanding. I do not take anything that he says seriously because he has no commitment to a better life for every human being. He is only concerned about one group of people and that is Afrikaners.

Does your family support your political views?

They support me because I am their son, not my political views. We do not politically agree on many thing but they still support me. We do not really talk about politics.

Q&A with James Oatway

Photo: Provided

Photo: Provided

James Oatway is an award-winning photojournalist, based in Johannesburg. He works for Sunday Times as a senior photographer. He has recently been in the news after capturing the gruesome xenophobic murder of Mozambican Emmanuel Sithole, whose death Oatway was accused of exploiting.

You once mentioned that photojournalism was never on the horizon for you, as an established photojournalist, what is your current sentiment on the profession you have adopted?  

Most of the time I love my job. I get to travel, see amazing places and meet amazing people. I’m constantly learning about the world.
Do you ever see yourself reverting to an alternative profession?
Not really. This is more than a profession. It’s more a way of life. But sometimes I wish that I’d become a game ranger.

What are a few of your career highlights?
Judging the Pictures of the Year International Awards in Missouri USA earlier this year. Seeing a medic resuscitate a still-born baby in Hillbrow on New Year’s Eve. Meeting Nelson Mandela was the most inspirational experience.
What comes to mind when I mention “Emmanuel Sithole”
Anger. Pain.

What is your opinion to the flak you received from those images?
I understand why. The images are horrific. It’s understandable that people will get upset. When people are upset they lash out.

If you could return to the moment just before you captured those images, do you think you would have the changed your approach?
How would you describe your experience of photojournalism, in three words?
Adventure. Pain. Reality.

SLICE OF LIFE: Where is our humanity?

A week ago I had a conversation with a colleague of mine about xenophobia. She told me about a story she was covering where foreign nationals were protesting against the arrest of their friends.

More than 400 foreign nationals, including women and children, were forcibly taken out of the buildings in Johannesburg CBD at 2am. I then recalled the same thing happened the week before in Sunnyside, Pretoria. The similarities sent chills down my spine.

Our government has started a procedure called Operation Fiela, which in Tswana usually means “Sweep the Dirt”. According to SABC, the government started this operation to “target areas, buildings and spaces which are known to be frequented by criminals”.

Now, the problem is not what they may be trying to achieve, but the manner in which they are going about it.

See, I happen to be in a serious relationship with a beautiful young woman from Zimbabwe and I became scared for the safety of my partner. She came to South Africa because the political situation in Zimbabwe is not favourable to those who are from an opposition party. She said she also came here because “unlike in South Africa, there are very scarce opportunities for young bright graduates due to the declining economy”. Now in South Africa, she has experienced mild xenophobic attacks in the past and is scared for her safety considering the recent attacks.

“Where exactly is this rainbow nation that we always speak highly of?”

I ask myself, where is our humanity? Where exactly is this rainbow nation that we always speak highly of?

We live in a country where, instead of being our protectors, the police are responsible for brutality towards innocent people. In 2012, there was a massacre in Marikana, North West. Police shot miners with live ammunition resulting in 34 deaths. The shooting has been compared to the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 when police opened fire on protestors and killed 69 people.

Where are our protectors?

We had the police inflicting brutality on our nation’s people during the apartheid regime and it is still happening in this so-called democracy. I am not saying there aren’t any good cops, but our government has not created a safer police force. Our government has failed us.

We recently celebrated Freedom Day and I am asking myself what we are freed from, when we are still shackled by anger and mental slavery. Nelson Mandela probably did not have this vision for South Africa, this was not his aim when he spent 27 years in prison.

Our government has become an enemy to our fellow African brothers and sisters. The recent violent attacks against foreign nationals have given rise to the question: Is South Africa really a united country or are we an angry, pained and divided nation.

Let us heal as a nation, find love in diversity. I, as a black bisexual woman in love with a foreign national woman, would like to take pride in South Africa’s healing as a nation. This goes beyond just having tolerance but means accepting our fellow Africans. Let us show the spirit of ubuntu and be a true rainbow nation that cultivates diversity. We all come in beautiful forms and, essentially, we are all human.

Perhaps one day as a country we will achieve a state of acceptance as described by writer Eckhart Tolle: “Acceptance looks like a passive state, but it brings something entirely new into this world. That peace, a subtle energy vibration, is consciousness.”

Students tackle gender inequity at Wits

PEER LEARNING: A group of learners and a Law professor sit around a table, discussing gender issues. Photo: Boipelo Boikhutso

PEER LEARNING: A group of learners and a Law professor sit around a table, discussing gender issues. Photo: Boipelo Boikhutso

The Students for Law and Social Justice Wits established a space to discuss gender-related issues. The initiative is called Ubulili. 

The Students for Law and Social Justice (SJSJ) have begun a gender campaign –

Ubulili is a Zulu word for ‘gender’, the campaign was started by SJSJ member, Cherise Clevely. According to Clevely, the university needed a gender initiative led by students. “I saw a gap in Wits for a forum that would tackle gender related issues,” she said.

Ubulili is a series of six in-depth discussions on gender-related issues, these discussions happen in a relaxed atmosphere where peer-learning is key. The members and the general public are each session. Clevely told Wits Vuvuzela that these discussions aim to “cut across lines that segregate people according to gender.”

The campaign kicked off last year but the first discussion was held this year, “Feminism” being the topic.

Tina Power, a participant told Wits Vuvuzela that the first seminar aimed to “bust the myth that men cannot be feminists.”

Before the seminar, members are sent reading material that forms the bases of the discussion in each seminar. This discussion is usually led by an expert in the Law department.

Professor Elsje Bonthuys from the Law School, told Vuvuzela that she was “thrilled” by the fact that the students took it upon themselves to start these discussions. “It is very interesting to hear what this generation thinks of these issues compared to mine.”

“We should infuse gender into other courses because gender influences our normal daily lives”, she said.

According to Clevely, it is important to raise awareness on campus about gender equality, especially because of the “misogynistic comments made by men’s residences recently”. She highlighted the importance of educating men, which is one of the objectives of Ubulili.

GENDER ACTIVIST: Professor Elsje Bonthuys shares her views on gender and sexuality with students at the Ubulili seminar. Photo: Boipelo Boikhutso

GENDER ACTIVIST: Professor Elsje Bonthuys shares her views on gender and sexuality with students at the Ubulili seminar. Photo: Boipelo Boikhutso

Ubulili also plans to start a sanitary drive where sanitary wear will be donated to students in need. This will be done in August to commemorate women’s month. “It is sad that a lot of girls miss school when they are on their periods because they cannot afford sanitary pads,” stated Clevely; “Periods are what make us women, so it should not be a shame when a woman is on her period.”