TENNIS: Student beats coach at Wits final

COURT ORDER: Witsie Adam Gordon, third year BCom Law student triumphed over his coach and took the top spot at the Wits Tennis Club Championships, men's final. Photo: Bongiwe Tutu

COURT ORDER: Witsie Adam Gordon, third year BCom Law student triumphed over his coach and took the top spot in the Wits Tennis Club Championships. Photo: Bongiwe Tutu

By Lameez Omarjee and Bongiwe Tutu

In a scorching battle for the top spot, a Wits student outplayed his coach at the men’s final of the Wits Tennis club championships, earlier today at the Bozzoli tennis courts.

Third year BCom Law student, Adam Gordon, was quick to take the lead over Wits head tennis coach, Byron Werbeloff (23).  Gordon finished the first set 6-1.  Werbeloff fought hard to recover but conceded the second and final set 6-4 to Gordon.

Despite his quick victory, Gordon felt he could have done better.  “It feels good.  I did what I could to win, it helped that I remained consistent.”  He added: “I didn’t play my best tennis, I should have been more aggressive”.  Werbeloff also felt he could have been more aggressive in the game.

Tennis club tournaments are open to all members and this is why Werbeloff could play in the championship even as a coach.  Werbeloff however gave his second place to student Rishay Bharath, 2nd year BSc mechanical engineering, saying “since I am the coach I would rather have one of my students take the win”. Witsie Mike Stephansen, 3rd year BAccSci, was placed third.

In another match Vladimer Makic, 2nd year BSc Applied Maths took fourth place when he beat Michael Wrathall, 1st year BSc aeronautical engineering.  Makic said he won because “I served like a machine.”

The Wits tennis club has “raised record numbers of tennis players” and is one of the top five university clubs in the country, according to Werbeloff.  A wooden racket tournament will be hosted in October to raise funds for the team, possibly for bursaries.  The club hopes to revive tennis and reach the number one spot in the country.

The Women’s finals will take place on Tuesday at 5pm, at the Bozzoli tennis courts.


No vote flyers handed out at Wits voting stations

Students campaigning against the SRC (Student Representatives Council) elections today were seen handing out #WhyShouldWeVote flyers next to voting stations on the Wits Education campus.

A number of students from the campus have acted on their  promise to boycott the elections this week as they feel their grievances are not being satisfactorily addressed by the SRC.

Some Wits Education Student Council (ESC) leaders have voiced their support for the campaign.

“We’re handing these flyers out to ensure people don’t vote carelessly, if they are not conscious of their vote, then why are they voting?” said third year student Bedney Morole.  He explained that it was more of an awareness campaign for conscious voting or no voting at all.

Morole said that he would not be voting in this year’s SRC elections.

The flyers read “future teachers’ united #WhyShouldWeVote, we are sick of empty promises. Can we be taken serious [sic]?”

“I believe these flyers are a result of grievances from the students”, said Mokolwane Masweneng, Wits ESC Academic officer.

He said the ESC received grievances from the students and took them to the head of school, but they are still waiting for a response from the dean of student’s office.

“We are not against the parties that are running, but just bringing awareness to students,” said third year student Philip Hlatshwayo, who was handing out the flyers and abstaining from voting.

WHY VOTE: A student on Education Campus passing on flyers to make others think twice before they vote.     Photo: Bongiwe Tutu

WHY VOTE: A student on Education Campus passing on flyers to make others think twice before they vote. Photo: Bongiwe Tutu

Numerous grievances

Manqoba Chungwane, second year Education student said: “We don’t even have options for food here, we can only buy from Olives and Plates which is very expensive, so we have to travel to main campus every day for lunch.

Third year Education student Themba Sibeko said ever since he was in first year, there has only been one Kudu terminal for printing.  “We have asked for it to be removed from inside the library so that we can access it when the library closes, as it closes so early, but nothing was done. They don’t care about us,” he said in reference to the SRC.

“How can you have one Kudu Bucks machine for about 2000 students? And one ATM that never works! How can we ever vote when our voices are not heard?” said Thabiso Dlamini, another third year Education student.

“The students have the right to state their grievances and I support this campaign,” said Masweneng.  “I am also not voting, I am representing the students” he said.

Wits ESC Grievances officer Xolani Khoza said the issue is about representation, “It doesn’t say we are not going to vote, but we want to know why we should,” he said.

Khoza would not say whether he would be voting or not, but said that he was in full support of the students.

“I am a student before I am a leader, and tomorrow we will go on for a full day of campaigning if our grievances have still not been answered,” he said.

Students from education campus have been voicing their concerns on the Wits Education Student Council (ESC) Facebook page.




Boycott talks not backed by Education Students Council

Bongiwe Tutu and Rofhiwa Madzena

Calls for a boycott of the SRC elections by education students have not been endorsed by the student council.

Grievance officer, Xolani Khoza, said they want to separate themselves as the Education Student Council (ESC) from the boycott. “We feel that the boycott is being influenced by political parties.”

However, Khoza said as students of Education Campus they would not be voting unless the grievances they had tabled to management were considered. “We are not taken seriously, so why should we vote?”

Khoza said they wanted a “sufficient explanation” from management. “Maybe then we will vote,” he said.

The grievances that were tabled to university management last year include inconvenient library hours, as it closes at 9pm. The lack of frequent buses to education campus “when main campus is closed” is another issue that was brought up.

Khoza said they need “student development organisations” such as the Counselling and Careers’ Development Unit, Student Development and Leadership Unit and First Year Experience.

Khoza said he had heard of student suicides apparently due to the pressures of student life. “We need these facilities to prevent such instances,” he said.

Project W, leader Jamie Mighti commented on the planned boycott by students on Education Campus: “You boycott the SRC elections, how does that improve the SRC? If students want change they need to vote for the right party.”

The SRC’s liaison officer Jabulile Mabuza said: “Many of these issues are issues that are always raised in university meetings by the SRC but because of the bureaucratic system, we have to go through a number of departments before implementation, this is not an easy thing to explain to students.”

Mabuza said many of the issues on education campus “are not a matter of money but a matter of changing the university’s policy”. She said:  “I believe students have the right to voice out their concerns whichever peaceful way to get their voices heard.”

Responding to a request for more ATMs on Education Campus, deputy vice-chancellor Prof Tawana Kupe said there is a Nedbank machine that was placed there about two years ago on the students’ request. “At that stage Nedbank was the only bank interested,” he said.

The ATM is not used enough to warrant the installation of another one, Kupe said. The cashless campus project should relieve the pressure on ATMs and Kudu Bucks’ machines.

He said there is a budget for the cashless campus project and added that implementation will take place “hopefully by latest April 2015”.

Education campus boycott SRC elections

Rofhiwa Madzena and Bongiwe Tutu

Witsies on Education Campus have rallied together to boycott the SRC elections, complaining that they have been marginalised.

The Wits Education Student Council (ESC) Facebook page has been abuzz with complaints and comments by students on Education Campus, with demands that they would like met by the SRC.

The students have threatened to boycott on the day of the elections as a collective and not cast their votes.

The campaign is under the identifiable hashtag: #whyshouldwevote where students place their comments on the ESC Facebook page.

Philip Hlatshwayo wrote: “I think the community of students at Wits Education Campus is taken for granted, we are continually promised services that remain ink on paper, #whyshouldwevote?”

“We are not voting at education campus, we are calling for a boycott of SRC elections at education campus.  We are going to revive and help the ESC deliver because we know it’s not easy – But no votes for SRC,” said Bedney Morole on the ESC Facebook page.

Dzimani James wrote: “#whyshouldwevote? Second and third of September we will still be here asking the same question to the SRC, why vote?”

James was supported by Nqobile McGaga Nqosh, amongst others, who wrote: “I am for the #whyshouldwevote campaign.”

Bedney Morole wrote: “we need a campus that does not just accept things as they come.  This campaign aims to give the ESC teeth to bite”.

Some of the things they want on Education campus include two Kudu Bucks machines, an ATM machine as well as another food outlet.

Former Vice-chairperson of the Education Student Council, Njabulo Mkize honours BA Applied Drama student said that the current food outlet, Olives and Plates is becoming less affordable for students. “It’s a monopoly, they get to determine their own costs because they don’t have competition.”

He also said: “Last year the VC [Prof. Adam Habib] came to Education Campus and he said that they would look into it but still nothing has been done.” “I’m doing my honours on main campus [Braamfontein campus] and you can feel the difference, everything is available here.”

Pkay Mjekevu wrote: “Our aim is to stop the culture of being blinded by unrealistic promises again and again.”

The leaders whom we are going to elect must know that we don’t believe what they say but we recognise what they have done,” he said.

SRC’s liaison officer, Jabulile Mabuza said: “It’s not a secret that Olives and Plates food is expensive for the average student and it’s very frustrating knowing that’s the only food option you have.”

Mjekevu wrote: “Wits extended medical school towards our campus and put hospital on our campus and they did nothing for us.

Don’t tell me about that incomplete lecture theatre at Liseding,” he said.

“Where was SRC when that happened? The SRC has done nothing to make us feel welcomed at Wits.”

Mabuza said: “The University needs to start taking students serious on these issues and if a boycott is what it takes for the University to address these concerns then it must be.”



Former press ombud remembers colleague Nat Nakasa

Joseph Nong Thloloe, is a veteran journalist with over 50 years’ experience in print and broadcast journalism. From 1977-1994 Thloloe was a writer and reporter for publications such as The World, Rand Daily Mail, Golden City Post and Drum magazine, where he worked closely with renowned journalist Nat Nakasa. This week the remains of legendary South African journalist Nat Nakasa were brought to South Africa from the United States. Thloloe was at Nakasa’s welcoming back into the country.

Veteran Journalist, Joe Thlole. Photo: Provided

Veteran South African journalist and , Joe Thlole.
Photo: Provided

Nakasa had written for Drum Magazine, the Rand Daily Mail and the Golden City Post (now City Press). Nakasa won a fellowship to Harvard University but was refused a passport by the Apartheid government. Instead he took an exit permit, which would not allow him to return to South Africa, and began his life in exile in 1964. He committed suicide in New York over a year later.

How do you feel about Nakasa’s remains being brought back to South Africa?
Yesterday’s event generated a turmoil of emotions for me – joy, sadness and anger.
Joy that Nat’s remains were finally home after decades of efforts.
Angry that South Africa could have treated such a talented young man the way we treated Nat, and sadness that his family and relatives were not meeting Nat in the flesh.

What is it that you will never forget or hold closely about Nakasa’s personality and professionalism?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Nat was prophetic in his writing and his lifestyle. He refused to bow to the dictates of the National Party, raising the possibility of a non-racial South Africa, and living in what he called a “fringe society” People of various colours lived and played, an island of non-racialism in the middle of apartheid.

What do you believe is most fundamental to his legacy?
He will always be a symbol of what should never ever happen again in this country.
The apartheid government attempted to curb his freedom of expression, freedom of movement and his freedom of association. We should never allow that to happen in this country.
For journalists, he will always be a reminder that they need to ask the hard questions, and get to the truth, whatever the consequences.

Were there any decisions on Nakasa’s formal burial ceremony date?
His will be buried at the Chesterville Heroes Acre [in KwaZulu Natal] on September 13.

VIDEO: Witsies in Silent Protest

Witsies showed solidarity with all those who have been affected by sexual violence, yesterday.  This the university’s second year participating in the Silent Protest.  Most participants spent the day with their mouths taped in an act to show support for those who have survived under sexual violence.  The protest was to raise awareness of the fact that one in three women and one in six men, are silenced by sexual violence.   The protest aims to emphasize that it is not an anti-rape protest but a pro-survivor protest.



COOL KID: Tiisetso “gym girl” Lephoto

Tiisetso Lephoto came second at the Falling Walls Conference in Berlin as the best researcher in South Africa/Africa. Photo: Bongiwe Tutu

Tiisetso Lephoto came second at the Falling Walls Conference in Berlin as the best researcher in South Africa/Africa.                                                                                                                                Photo: Bongiwe Tutu

While most people know her as the “gym girl”, Wits PhD student Tiisetso Lephoto (25) is also a One Young World ambassador and a Wits Golden Key member. Recognised as one of the new young and upcoming researchers in science by the Gauteng department of agriculture and rural development in 2013, she secured second place at the Falling Walls Conference in Berlin for the best researcher in South Africa/Africa. Lephoto is a Wits aerobics fitness and training instructor and founder of TiiMoves.

What research are you working on for your PhD?
My project is based on trying to come up with ways to reduce the use of chemical pesticides. Since 2011, when I started with masters, I’ve been trying to discover nematodes; microscopic worms which can kill insects. So, instead of spraying harsh chemicals which can make us sick because our food has been highly contaminated, my project wants to come up with ways of reducing or eliminating the use of these harmful chemicals, and find biological control agents. That’s the healthier way of killing insects without harming people or animals in any way.

What influenced the role you play in aerobics today?
I joined an aerobics community programme. They taught us almost everything, and it became fun, like a dancing routine, so I incorporate everything into my aerobics routines. And it’s more like a God-given talent, that’s how it feels, I just think of steps in my head and I execute it.

What is the most fulfilling part about being an aerobics fitness and training instructor?
I started an NGO called YesWeAreMoving in 2011. My aim was to spread the culture of healthy living, so I started to organise aerobics marathons alongside academic tutoring under a programme called Katleho Pele Education. We help grade eight to 12 learners in Soweto maintain their studies and health. We have a marathon this Saturday at the Squash Complex on West Campus from 9-11am. I organise the marathons to donate and fundraise for orphanages. This year is aimed at collecting food, toiletries, and clothes. And with my own personal training company, TiiMoves, I encourage others, and help people to put nutrition together with exercise, and feel good in their own skin.

What is most central to your life’s philosophy?
I give back to the community, this is my philosophy; I believe the higher you go, you have to find a way to lift other people with you. I like seeing someone happy, it’s very fulfilling to share knowledge, to help someone, and then see them succeed. I always think, with so many things that I do, ‘God where will you place me?’ I’m passionate about science and I’d like to be one of the leading young researchers and discover something to save the future of agriculture. So, the future holds me continuing to research, help other young people, encourage them to pursue what they love, and maybe to do science. Everything needs to just be well. Wellness is everything.

VIDEO: Wits Science Week – Opening by Prof Habib

National Science Week presents cutting edge science and technology at Wits University. Prof Adam Habib, Wits Vice-chancellor, opened the event by welcoming students, staff and visitors to the exhibition of innovation by Witsies in the Senate House concourse.




“Incoherence” is the main challenge to economic growth: first OR Tambo panel

PLAN PANEL: (left to right) Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita (CEO of Ichor Coal NV), Khulekani Mathe (Head of NPC Secretariat), Siki Mgabadeli (Moderator), Neil Coleman (COSATU strategist), Adam Habib (Wits Vice-Chancellor), agree on consensus and coherence for the NDP to work.    Photo: Zelmarie Goosen.

PLAN PANEL: (left to right) Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita (CEO of Ichor Coal NV), Khulekani Mathe (Head of NPC Secretariat), Siki Mgabadeli (Moderator), Neil Coleman (COSATU strategist), Adam Habib (Wits Vice-Chancellor), agree on consensus to take the country forward with the NDP.                                                                                          Photo: Zelmarie Goosen.


The main challenge to economic growth—as set out in South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP)—is “incoherence”, according to some experts at Wits on Thursday.

Vice-chancellor Prof Adam Habib called the NDP “incoherent” and said “trade-offs” were needed. The private and public sector as well as trade unions needed to come together and make concessions in order for the NDP to work.

“We need a pact agreement on the NDP, we need a coherent plan that involves the business, labour, government and society,” said Habib.

“The NDP was ideologically driven rather than practical.”

Providing a business perspective, Nonkululeo Nyembezi, CEO of Ichor Coal NV, said there needs to be “frankness between constituents and people in government need to be open”.

The panellists said the reason for the disagreements about the NDP was a lack of consensus on its policies.

Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) strategist Neil Coleman said there was no broad consensus with the implementation of the NDP “and the NDP cannot be implemented without consent from and coherence with the workers.”

Coleman said the NDP was “ideologically driven rather than practical.”


The panelists also argued over whether the NDP would create jobs and whether these jobs would be sustainable.

National Planning Committee Secretariat head Khulekani Mathe said the plan’s goal was to bring unemployment levels below six percent by creating 11 million new jobs by 2030.

However, Coleman countered that these would be unsustainable, low-paying jobs that would threaten economic stability. He said the youth wage subsidy would result in wage repression.

“Repressing wages of first time workers will deepen inequality and economy with not grow,” said Coleman.

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, who was present in the audience, told the panel that wage repression would lead to more income inequality and instability in the country.

“When you depress wages of the youth, and whilst you say nothing and in fact celebrate the fact that the CEO’s continues to smile to the banks and take their monies all over the world, then you know that you’re  going to work on political instability,” said Vavi.

Mathe disagreed the NDP would result in wage repression “there’s no way government would impoverish the people by doing that.”

He said the NDP instead supported “wage incentives”.

“What we do propose is a wage incentive, popularly known as the employment tax incentive, which is to try and encourage employers to employ more young people,” Mathe said.

The panellists agreed that income inequality was a problem but disagreed on whether the NDP would reduce the gap between rich and poor.

Coleman said that the NDP aims to decrease the Gini coefficient, a measure of inequality in a country, to 0.6 percent. This would still leave South Africa the most unequal country in the world “and this is our ambition,” he said.

The discussion on Thursday was the first of the ten-part OR Tambo Debate Series hosted by the Wits School of Governance.

VIDEO: Brazilian male soloist at Joburg Ballet beats the stereotype

Brazilian male ballet dancer, Jonathan Rodrigues, 23 is a soloist at the Johannesburg Ballet. Through his craft, he is beating widely-held stereotypes of male ballet dancers.

Joburg Ballet CEO Dirk Badenhorst speaks on the significance of male ballet dancing as an artform that is crucial in the world we live in.

This video is a production of the 2014 Wits Journalism short course in television. 


VIDEO: He’s not just a beggar at the stop street, he teaches Zulu to passing motorists

Twenty-three-year old Veli Moses Mackenzie,  is a homeless man who teaches isiZulu to motorists on busy Empire road in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

Mackenzie also known as ‘Jovies’ teaches the language to motorists using only a placard that he uses for his ‘word of the day.’ He boasts that he once taught isiZulu to a man from Wits University who used Mackenzie’s word of the day to compile a list that he eventually memorised.

This video is a production of the 2014 Wits Journalism short course in television. 

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.