Picture perfect phenomenal women at Wits

The Phenomenal Women Lecture Series starts at Wits next week and includes a special photography project by Witsies.

“We have about 12 female students from all five faculties, and they’ve been going around the campus, recording the lives of women at Wits,” says Dean of humanities, Tawana Kupe.

Each student has a particular theme for their project, and the photos will form part of a presentation.

“We’re empowering young women to tell stories about women,” Kupe says.

Athinangamso Nkopo was the first student approached by the dean.

“When he was planning the series, he needed students to work with and he called me.”

The 2nd year BA student believes she made an impression after attending a discussion on feminism.

“I’m a type of feminist- not a conventional feminist. I’ve always been aware that there’s a gap in Wits society between men and women.”

Nkopo was asked to recruit two women from each faculty.

Aneesa Rawat, a 3rd year LLB student, is one of them.

“The obvious answer to me wanting to do this is because I’m a woman, but I also thought it would be nice to commemorate women at Wits.”

Rawat’s theme for her photography project is gratitude towards female librarians on campus.

“I thought it was the best way to commemorate women.

“Being a librarian is not perceived as being in the same league as a lecturer. People aren’t as polite to librarians and we need to be aware of that.”

Engineering student, Amanda Malghas, says her theme is about women in engineering.

“I wanted to take care of the misconceptions around women who do engineering,” she says.

“Women are competent and not just representations of the quota system. Women in engineering are also feminine.”

Kupe says the idea is to create a platform for discussions around gender inequalities.

“The idea is to push the point that women’s issues are everyday issues.”

The series runs from August 22 – 24 and anyone interested in participating can approach the Dean’s office.

Wits men keep winning


THE Wits B men’s hockey team walked away with a 2-1 win against varsity rivals, University of Johannesburg D, in the home leg of the Southern Gauteng Hockey Men’s second division at the St John’s astro-turf on Sunday afternoon

“The Wits side were happy to have a full strength squad after their hockey tour in July and it showed as they dominated the start of the match,” said Shaun Skinner, Wits goalkeeper.

Against the run of play, UJ managed to capitalise on a breakaway up the left channel. The Wits defence, out-numbered, could not cut out a great square pass to an open UJ striker on top-D who managed to slap the ball into the far post, opening the scoring .

Wits nearly equalised soon after with a penalty corner that saw midfielder Devon Campbell’s drag-flick sail centimetres over the cross bar. Wits picked up intensity and were awarded another penalty corner within a few minutes.

The push was duffed and this forced Stixz Temane, who plays link, to run in and collect the loose ball. He managed to get the ball under control and keep Wits in possession. Wits managed to turn this error to their advantage when midfielder Lieb van Jaarsveld received the ball from Temane on top-D and pushed it onto the far post where striker Matthew Fletcher managed to deflect the ball into the back-board, scoring Wits’s equaliser off the play.

Wits managed to score a second time as the break approached through a well worked team goal, finished off again by Fletcher, the assist credited to Campbell.

Wits went into the break happy to have come back from a deficit, but knowing that the contest was far from over. UJ came back hard in the second half but the Wits defence proved too strong. Their best opportunity came from a back stick shot that Skinner managed to tip over the crossbar.

The Wits team seemed to be back on track, Skinner said. “The derby was something for the team to build on as we go into the last six games of the league and we hope to be promoted for a second year.”

Wits B team is in second place behind Beaulieu A, and UJ is fourth.


Subbed: Minnie

Thato: in the future, try to write for ppl who understand and don’t understand hockey. I am so lost, and that should not be the case. Get someone else to sub buddy, I tried… also, mention the positions of the players u mention. Quotes should be further up.

Former Witsie goes to the extreme

Rainy weather, snowy conditions and dangerous terrain weren’t problems for a former Witsie in the Alps – it was heat stroke that brought an end to his extreme challenge.

Pierre Carter represented South Africa in the Red Bull X- Alps 2011 challenge, which kicked off last month.

The 44 year old, a former building science student at Wits, joined the race in the Alps along with 30 other international athletes. The challenge includes hiking and paragliding non-stop through the Alps towards the Mediterranean Sea.

Although Carter was eliminated from the race last week after falling ill, he believes he performed better than he did in the 2009 challenge. “I think our performance was very good. The race was well organised and we thoroughly enjoyed it,” he says.

Carter’s assistant for the race, Wits engineering lecturer James Braid, felt the same.

“We made good route choices and despite moving significantly slower than the other teams, managed to stay in a relatively comfortable position, before being eliminated towards the end of the race.”

Braid has known Carter for many years.

 “My job in the race is to give the athlete support: preparing gear, planning routes, cooking, cleaning, etc.” The athletes are tracked automatically throughout the race.

Carter says he made it to Switzerland, which is halfway along the route. “We made it there on day 9.  We were hoping for a top 15 finish, but falling ill cost us this goal, unfortunately.”

Braid believes Carter could have gotten a top 15 position if he had not suffered from heat stroke. “And possibly with a hard push, perhaps a top 10 position. Nonetheless a good performance from a non-European team,” he added.

 Carter says there was not much to do in terms of mental and physical preparation every morning.

“You just need to know that you’ll be facing a tough day (every day).  Once the equipment is packed, it’s time to go, there’s no time really for anything else.”

The race began in the second week of July in Austria and ends in Monaco.






Wits Student Mugged

A student has been mugged and stabbed in the hand near Wits Medical School.

Rujeko, a medical student ,who did not want her last name revealed, said she was leaving med school at 11pm two weeks ago when she was attacked in the street,

“I saw two guys across the road, and one guy came running towards me.”

The 4th year said that while one of the men grabbed her arm and held her, the other stabbed her in the hand with an unknown object.

“I fought them and tried to escape but one of the guys pulled me by my bag and slapped me for screaming,” she said.

The attackers were after her cellphone, Rujeko said, but two cars stopped on the road to assist her which caused the men to flee.

“The [attackers] ran when one of the guys in the car got out and started chasing him. There were two ladies in the other car and they were trying to comfort me, and gave me a ride home.”

Rujeko said she was studying at med school and that it is usual for students to leave the campus late. “But I heard that they are beefing up security now, by having security accompany people,” she said.

This was confirmed by security guard, Albert Mathabatha, at the main entrance of Wits Medical School. “We now escort students from here to Education Campus and sometimes to Parktown Village.”

Mathbatha said that he often sees students leave med school after midnight, “But we have not had many problems with boys, so we try and transport or accompany girls.”

He was unaware of the mugging incident.

Rujeko said that she did not report the incident to the police; however her friends reported it to the dean of health sciences.

Student ‘rape’ case in residence underinvestigation

Wits is investigating a case of alleged rape at Ernest Oppenheimer Hall of Residence.

The case was reported by residence security on records dated May 14 at about 4am. The investigation involves a male resident of EOH and a female student at Wits.

According to the security record, the male student had two female friends visiting his room. They allegedly consumed alcohol after watching movies and fell asleep.

A neighbouring resident was alerted by the girl’s “screaming and shouting in the courtyard area,” said Nazime Randera, assistant registrar of the Parktown residences.

“I was called on Saturday morning at 7:05 by the hall co-ordinator who was informed by a neighbouring student,” he said. Randera added the student who reported it to the hall co-ordinator is part of the residence house committee.

The complainant was accompanied to Milpark Hospital and advised to see the head of Campus Health. “We’ve arranged the proper support and counselling,” said Randera. “We won’t sweep this under the carpet.”

The accused was allegedly arrested but has since been released. Only one of the female students has laid a complaint.

“The proper instruction was given to him [the accused], so he won’t speak to the complainant.” The male student is currently not allowed to have any form of communication – verbal or electronic -with the girl.

“I’m not at liberty to suspend the student from residence until a formal hearing has been held,” Randera said.

“We view allegations of this nature in a very serious light. We’re not trying to wash our hands of this matter. All the relevant parties [Campus Control, legal office and the dean of students] have been notified.”

Director of Campus Control, Robert Kemp, said: “There is a set protocol in place for dealing with an incident of this nature, Campus Control followed this protocol.” Kemp said the matter is being addressed by the legal office.

According to residence rules, overnight visitors are not allowed. “We’re also looking at this infringement of the residence rules,” Randera said.

Bongani Machabe, chairman of the EOH house committee, said he was not made aware of the incident.

“I heard people talking in passing at res. We’re planning to meet with Nazime this week to talk about it,” he said.

The Counselling and Careers Development Unit (CCDU) held a series of seminars last week at residences as part of their annual awareness campaign on sexual harassment. Students at EOH received an email which encouraged them to attend the workshop, “due to a number of unpleasant incidents which were recently reported in the residences”.

Scholarship opportunity for perfoming arts

Two scholarships are being offered by the Arts and Culture Trust (ACT) for individuals who want to study the arts.

The scholarships are being offered to youth wanting to study any undergraduate course in the performing arts sector. “We saw there was a real need for this type of scholarship,” says Nomalanga Nkosi, programmes manger at ACT.

“ACT has worked in the arts industry for many years, so we’ve identified a need for professionals in this sector. There are many scholarships for science and maths-related courses, and there aren’t too many for arts courses specifically.”

Those who want to apply for the scholarship need to register and audition to demonstrate their abilities in acting, singing and dancing. Nkosi says the audition process is a learning opportunity.

“You get to experience first-hand what it’s like to be in the industry. You start to think about being a performer.”

Steven Norman, who won a scholarship in 2009, says he did a singing, acting and dancing piece, which he choreographed with the help of a friend.

He says the scholarship has motivated him. “I have the opportunity, and I don’t have to worry about financial aid. It’s helped me realise the passion I have for theatre, so it’s been a good influence.”

The second winner, Zola Myeza, a student at the University of Cape Town, has similar views and says the scholarship has helped her plan her future.

“I know what I want in life. I would want to do my honours, and if I could, I would start my own agency and recruit performers.”

The scholarship is being offered to non-professionals between the ages of 18 and 25. Ian Gertenbach, a 1st year student, says the scholarship is a “marvellous” idea. “Scholarships inspire people to work harder and better at what they do.”

The drama student says he would have applied for the scholarship, adding that arts degrees are “pricey, as they’re specialised degrees”.

The closing date for registrations is May 31 and it is open to individuals who are not registered for an undergraduate degree at the time. For more information visit the ACT website at www.act.org.za

Friendly Advice

There are about six billion people in the world. We’re very social beings so we’re likely to befriend some of them.  Although when you look at some people’s Facebook contacts, it seems as though they’re trying to make friends with everyone in the galaxy- but that’s a Slice of Life for another day. My point is this, we like making connections.

 So the question is: How does one determine who to make those connections with? I don’t mean to sound like an old lady, but over the years I’ve come to realise that life gets more complicated as you go on and I’d like to think I can share those complications with people I know who wouldn’t mind sharing them with me. I’d want to know the friend I’ve chosen is going to get me out of trouble (even when it finds me more often than the average person), and isn’t going to leave when I need them most. I think these are reasonable terms for friendship, but when we’re at varsity it’s easy to overrate these connections.

I’m not saying all the friendships you’ve built are going to fall apart, but I do believe there’s a limit to some friendships – and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. You know it’s time to find that exit when the person you met in a tut asks for notes the day before the exam or that guy you thought was sweet in class starts stalking you on campus. These are obvious examples – in reality it’s harder to know when to walk away from people you thought were friends.

It’s not that hard to make friends, especially with social utilities. But, does exchanging two sentences on Mxit (do people still use that?) or hanging out because you’re doing the same courses really constitute friendship? Do those friendships end when one decides to use Whatsapp or change from a BA to a BSc? I  think they do. I don’t think everyone’s motives are selfish, but people can be superficial when choosing friends.

 I’m not complaining – like some lonely girl who doesn’t get a dozen friend requests. I have a great set of friends who care about me, and I know for certain that it’s for all the right reasons. It took me a while to get them, but I can now say for certain that when I tell my friends about that stalker guy, they’re definitely going to take care of him.

Mining engineering pass rate increases

The pass rate of Wits mining engineering first year students has increased from 2009 to 2010, according to the head of school, Professor Fred Cawood.

In 2010 the pass rate of first year students to second year was 42%, an improvement from 38% in 2009. The school of engineering has a mentorship programme which Cawood believes is “important”.

“Each first and second year student in the school has a mentor on the staff, and the student body forms a different level of mentorship. It’s a programme unique to the school of mining,” he says.

First year student Collen Kubayi said the programme is good. “We tell them about our problems and our experiences with lecturers and they help us with that.” Kubayi said the course was difficult but “nice”.

But Cawood said the overall pass rate was still unacceptable, “It is not right that only 40% of students go through to second year.”

Another first year student, Selepe Phuti, agreed and said the low pass rate in the course was not good. “It shows that you need to improve and work well to make it to the next year.”

Cawood said the main reasons for the low pass rate in the school were poor high school education and lack of financial aid for first year students.

 “Most of our students come from the public school system. We have our doubts on how some of the core subjects like science and mathematics are taught in rural state schools.”

Cawood added that financial assistance is critical for students’ success. “When you have needy students and they get assistance, then they perform. So the hurdle is financial support.”

He said the pass rate for mining engineering should be “at least a 70% progression from first to second year”.

He added that the pass rates in the other schools of engineering were much better.

Software piracy still present among students

STUDENTS on campus still consider piracy a cheaper option and claim that price is not the only deciding factor in committing software piracy.

Ryan Vandenbergh, an electrical engineering PhD student, said he believes most people pirate software because of the restrictions placed on them by companies.

“You’ve paid for [software] but you don’t have access to all of it because you’re limited by technology or location- sometimes the services are restricted to some regions only.”

 Students in the school of electrical and information engineering said they did not illegally download software because the school provides them with what they require.

“The school is supportive of the things we need,” said Kyle Vorster, an electrical engineering student. “Wits has a licensing agreement with most of the software we use.”

But the masters student said this does not necessarily stop students from pirating software at home. “Some programmes can only be accessed through the Wits network, so people would pirate those programmes so they can use them at home.”

“There are free options in terms of programmes that you could use, but people just don’t know where to get it from,” said Shamil Morar, another masters student.

Dr. Stephen Levitt, a software engineering lecturer at Wits, said students who pirate software probably do it for economic reasons. “I’ve seen a lot of articles on software piracy and they never mention that there are a lot of other free options available,” he added.

All students interviewed said they would legally buy software but they understood why people found pirating cheaper. “The price of software in South Africa is so high, as it has to go through customs etc,” said Morar.

 “At the moment Wits is researching various methods – in terms of making sure that computers on campus have the correct software,” said Greg Sulej, who works in IT support at Wits. He said Wits has measures in place that limit software piracy on campus, but suspects that it still happens anyway.

South Africa has the lowest reported piracy rate in Africa at 35%, with countries like Zimbabwe at 92% and Zambia at 82%, according to Business Software Alliance.

Midsummer Night’s Dream turns into a nightmare

The set at the performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” came crashing down in the middle of the play at the Wits Main Theatre on Tuesday night.

The preview performance was interrupted when a piece of the set – a tree made from corrugated iron – fell after an actor climbed onto it as part of the performance.

Lamar Bonhomme, the drama student who fell during the performance said that he was uninjured and the set has always been secure.

OH PUCK: Lamar Bonhomme plays Puck in the Wits production of A Midsummer Nights Dream. At the preview performance on Tuesday night he fell on stage when part of the set broke unexpectedly. Photo: Courtesy Ruphin Coudyzer

“Through all the rehearsals, the weights may have shifted, and I think I put too much weight on one side when I got into position.”

Bonhomme said that his performance has not been affected by the incident. “It made it [his acting] a bit better,” he joked.

“I was a little scared about the tree, but once we made sure everything was secure… it was fine.”

Greg Homann, the director of the play said that the set falling was unexpected and that all safety protocols were followed when the incident happened.

“I had been up and down the tree many times, and we’ve used it for the last week in the theatre, so there was no indication that it was unstable at all.”

He added that part of the incident could be seen as a learning opportunity for the students, in terms of safety and the unpredictability associated with theatre.

“The safety of the students is at the forefront of all of our planning,” said Ashraf Johaardien the general manager at the Wits Theatre. Johaardien said there was no way of knowing that this type of incident could have happened.

“It’s a complex show and things can go wrong. Fortunately nobody was hurt. We’ve identified the problem [and] very quickly corrected it,” he said.

Students were given a briefing on health and safety. The actual cause of the accident is still unknown, but is under review according to Johaardien.

Cervical cancer risk on the rise in SA

More than 65% of South African women are at risk of being infected by the human papilloma virus (HPV) which can later result in the formation of cervical cancer,  a 2010 World Health Organisation report says.

Women between the ages of 15 and 44 years are most at risk of acquiring the HP virus.

Professor Martin Hale, head of anatomical pathology at Wits Medical School, says there has been an increase in HPV-related diseases in South Africa.  He says the HP virus can be overcome.

“There are over a hundred subtypes of the papilloma virus,” Hale says. “But HPV-16 and HPV-18 have been identified as having a link to cervical cancer.”

The papilloma virus can affect the female genital tract once women become sexually active, which potentially results in the formation of cervical cancer.

Hale says regular pap smears help with the identification of HPV, but adds that there is not enough information on HPV around hospitals and on campus.

Emma Griffiths, a 1st year occupational therapy student, says she has not seen any information around campus on cervical cancer or HPV. “I know you’re supposed to get vaccinated [for HPV] when you’re in your teens, and I know the causes of cervical cancer are related to HPV.”

Mia Ndombi, a 3rd year medicine student, says she saw a poster about HPV and cervical cancer. “Basically it was about what you’re entitled to do in terms of getting a pap smear, and checking for those risks when you’ve got an STI.”

A vaccination for HPV is available at pharmacies in South Africa, which Hale says should be given to adolescent girls or women before they become sexually active. He recommends it as a way of lowering the risk of HPV infection.

Cleo Le Roux, a 3rd year medicine student, says that there is scepticism about the vaccination and “it’s expensive, from about R700 up.”.

There are also ethical and religious debates about giving the vaccination to children.

Wits societies collaborate for charity clothing drive

 Association of Catholic Tertiary Students (ACTS) at Wits has joined forces with the Golden Key and South African Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS) at Wits on a charity clothing drive on campus.

 “The collaboration came about after discussions during O-week. We feel it is better to have bigger numbers in order to have a bigger impact through the clothing drive,” said Victor Ajusi, ACTS chairperson.

 Easy access to drop off points and the use of social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter  are part of the strategy aimed at encouraging  students to let go of what doesn’t fit, and donate to the less fortunate with winter at our heels.

“We decided to be part of the charity clothing drive because one of our fundamental principles is to focus on South Africa and the communities in which we live with an interest in charitable events,” said Dina Hendner, national vice-chairperson of SAUJS.

 The clothes, books and blankets donated will be given to Holy Trinity Catholic church, which will distribute the donations to homeless people.

Drop-off points will be at all residences on and off campus, OLS Building -outside My Cafe, Matrix-next to the security desk, Education campus tuck shop near the bus stop and at Medical School.