by Dineo Bendile | May 1, 2013 | Featured 1, News
#TeamNightShift, a hashtag commonly used by Witsies on Twitter, offers a fresh and youthful spin to the age-old phrase of “burning the midnight oil”.
But while many are studying in lecture halls and tutorial rooms or YouTubing their favourite videos at midnight, there are people on campus working to ensure student safety and cleanliness of these study areas in particular.
Today, on Workers’ Day, the Wits Vuvuzela team pays homage to a different #TeamNightShift. The workers at Wits who work through the night long after many have already gone to sleep.
Meet some of these workers:
Mr Vincent Ntanganedzeni
STEERING THE TEAM: Bus driver, Vincent Ntanganedzeni.
Mr Vincent Ntanganedzeni is the bus driver responsible for transporting students to their destinations around the various Wits campuses.
Ntanganedzeni, who has been a bus driver since 1993, lives in Germiston with his wife and children.
He sometimes works during the day, but when he does represent #TeamNightShift, he works from 3.30pm to 12am. Ntanganedzeni says he enjoys having the noisy, but sometimes entertaining students on his bus.
“I started to work as a driver a long time ago so I do enjoy this job,” he said.
Ntanganedzeni will be doing his usual campus routes tonight.
Mr Ezekiel Ramajoana
ALWAYS ON GUARD: Ezekiel Ramajoana at his David Webster Hall post.
Mr Ezekiel Ramajoana is only one of many security guards responsible for safety on campus.
Born in Soweto, Ramajoana – a security guard at the David Webster Hall residence – spent most of his young life in Lesotho, where he was raised and educated.
He has since returned to Soweto where he lives with his mother and sisters.
His average night begins with him leaving his home in Soweto at 4pm, where he catches a taxi or train to Braamfontein and arrives at Wits at 5.30pm, ready to work his shift from 6pm to 6am.
When asked how he stays awake during these shifts, he laughs loudly as he increases the volume on his small radio to listen attentively to the Orlando Pirates vs. Chippa United broadcast.
“Staying awake? I just have to keep walking around this place and drinking some water because, eish, sleep does become a problem sometimes.”
He says what he loves most about his job is the respect that students show him, which allows him to learn a lot from them daily.
Ms Thabile Thetele
SWEEPING AHEAD: Supercare cleaner, Thabile Thetele.
If you’ve ever left a lecture hall at 5pm in a chaotic state and come back in the morning to a spotless room and a clean chalkboard, it’s not by mystery or magic that it’s clean.
It’s thanks to Thabile Thetele and her team, who make sure the only mark of their presence they leave behind is a pristine clean FNB building on West Campus.
This hardworking mother of two works as a cleaner at Wits from 7pm to 3.30am on weekdays.
Travelling home for Thabile and her team is always a matter of concern.
“We walk to Park Station at 3.30am and it’s not easy. We have to travel in groups at all times. Last December two of our colleagues were mugged on their way home.”
When asked about her dream job, her bright smile quickly lifts the mood and lights up the empty and dreary FNB lecture hall as she exclaims: “Wow! My dream job is a stable job that allows me to get home early and sleep with my children at night.”
After working almost 4 years as a cleaner in the building, she says she appreciates her colleagues, who make her nights more enjoyable in a job that is unappreciated by some, especially students who she says often give them a tough time.
Mr Thabo Raditla
A WELL OILED MACHINE: Cleaner,Thabo Raditla (left) prepares for another long night at Wits. Photo: Dineo Bendile
Supercare cleaner and Meadowlands resident, Thabo Raditla, says when his shift ends at 3.30am, he and his team walk to Park Station, where they wait until 5.30am for the first taxis of the day to take them home.
Thabo, like Thabile, works from 7pm to 3.30am. This travel routine is what he endures every weekday, even during the bitterly cold winter mornings.
Even when sharing some details of his long and sometimes cold trips home, he maintains his bubbly and energised personality.
“I keep myself awake by texting people, you know, with Whatsapp. Because if I don’t do that I’ll be sleeping here… and my supervisor won’t like that [laughs].”
The 26 year-old describes himself as a young man hustling towards something greater.
“I want many things, but one thing is just to have a nice job. Get money. And have a good wife, that’s all!”
#TeamVuvu wishes all the Wits staff a happy Workers’ Day!
by Dineo Bendile | Apr 19, 2013 | Featured 1, News
A MYSTERIOUS odour—reeking of rotting food on some days, human waste on others—is plaguing the Matrix.
The source of the persisting foul odour appears to be along the back entrance of the building and has made the use of the nearby walkway unpleasant for many.
In addition to causing discomfort amongst passers-by, the foul odour also plagues practitioners and patients at nearby campus health facilities and is near a loading bay for food suppliers.
Sister Yvonne Matimba, head of campus health, said the odour was something that affected their operation at the centre.
“It’s not ideal for a health facility. I talk about hygiene but then we are next to an unhygienic source. It’s not ideal.”
Matimba said they had notified the university about the odour.
“We have raised it with them, but…”she said before trailing off and shrugging.
The cause of this smell appears to be a matter of speculation and finger-pointing between several sources.
There has been speculation that the smell is caused by the sewage deposit point situated in the nearby area. However, these claims were rejected by Joe Nembudani, campus facilities manager at Property and Infrastructure Management Division (PIMD).
Nembudani said the only drainage in the area was in the form of a storm water channel used to prevent flooding.
But several cleaners based in the Matrix building claimed faulty piping from the Matrix toilets was causing the foul smell in the area.
One cleaner, Samuel Gafane, said: “You see these pipes have holes in them? When someone flushes the toilet upstairs the waste travels through these pipes and makes this area smell.”
Gafane pointed to a disturbing sight. Even on a dry day, puddles of water are present in the area. The constant dripping of fluid has attracted swarms of flies to holes in the pipes.
Nembudani countered that the only possible smell in the area was caused by the cleaners themselves as well as several shop owners in the Matrix, who he believed poured waste product in the storm water channels.
MYSTERY UNCOVERED: The channel where greasy residue is allegedly drained by shop owners.
Photo: Dineo Bendile
“I promise you it’s not sewage. It’s because of the fat poured by people who are lazy,” Nembudani said. “Even the cleaners they’ve been emptying dirty water into those channels.”
Gafane rejected this and said it was not possible that the soap water he used to clean could cause the odour.
James McCarthy of Phezulu Plumbing, a company often appointed to clean out the channels, said grease from the Matrix shops was a possible source for the foul smell in the area.
“The grease solidifies and ends up clogging the drain and smelling,” he said.
Nembudani said he was unaware of any problem with bad odours as nothing had been reported to him.
THE FINGER POINTING CONTINUES: Cleaners identify a second source of the smell – faulty pipes from the Matrix toilets.
Photo: Dineo Bendile
by Dineo Bendile | Apr 12, 2013 | News
THE WITS main dining hall has come under the spotlight following the discovery of a worm in a burger last week.A second year accounting student discovered the worm after she bit into her chicken burger.
The student, a house-committee member at one residence, was having lunch at the main dining hall on East Campus when she discovered the worm in her food.
The meal had gotten off to a bad start when soon after receiving her food she realised that the burger roll was too dry to eat.
Despite this, the student said that she was hungry and decided to eat the burger patty. That’s when she discovered the worm.
“I thought maybe it’s a dead piece of lettuce or something,” she said. “then it started wiggling and I was like, ‘No! Lettuce does not move!’.”
She reported the worm to a staff member of the catering company, RoyalMnandi, and was later joined by the dining hall’s operations administrator, Bontle Mogapi, who took picture evidence of the contaminated food.
“And then they offered me a lousy fruit-pack,” said the student.
RoyalMnandi could not be reached for comment.
Joanne Rowan, deputy director of catering and retail, said in cases of food security alerts, such as a student finding a foreign object in their food, the matter would immediately be brought to the service provider’s attention. “We have never had a test come back positive for the presence of food illness causing micro-organisms in our food,” she said.
RoyalMnandi began servicing the Wits main dining hall in 2012. Students took to the dining hall’s Facebook page to express excitement at the change of caterer and the newly renovated eating space.
But students said standards have since dropped and they are unhappy with the current state of the service provider. One affected student, Dominic Khumalo, recently published a copy of his letter to the vice-chancellor, Prof Adam Habib, on Facebook. In this letter he said students were unhappy with the declining quality of food and services at the facility.
Khumalo claimed that students were impressed with RoyalMnandi during their first four weeks of service in 2012.
But he said the food was of poor quality and the portions were small. “The money we pay per meal is more than R30 and the service we receive is tantamount to R10.”
by Dineo Bendile | Apr 12, 2013 | Featured 1, News
THE NEW West Campus food stalls came under the spotlight this week following student complaints of high prices.
Witsies took to Twitter to express their dissatisfaction with the high food prices at the stalls. Many students still walk to the Matrix on East Campus to buy food, where stalls are said to be reasonably priced.
Chip ‘n Dip and Macaronis opened at the beginning of term as additions to Maya’s and the Tower on West Campus. This makes for only a handful of food suppliers on West Campus compared to the variety of stalls available at the Matrix.
Some students have had to reduce the number of times they buy food on campus. Noluntu, (3rd yr. BComm) said she only bought food at the stalls a few times a week. “The prices are too high, where will I get the money from?” she said. Ndalamo, (2nd year LLB), said: “they have great food we want to buy, but they must also remember that we are students.”
Corradetti Rino, manager at Macaronis, said that he had not received any complaints about prices since the opening of the stall. Rino acknowledged the difference in prices between his stall and many others on East Campus but said this was because his stall offered original Italian food not found anywhere else on campus.
“I’m very happy to bring bits of culture from Italy to South Africa,” he said. Another concern was the lack of variety in food sorts on West Campus.
Many students felt that more stalls needed to supply Halaal certified foods and even suggested introducing a Seven Eleven stall.
But a campus price comparison revealed that the cheapest prices are not exclusive to East Campus stalls. Prices tend to fluctuate based on the food type being sold.
This survey of smaller more popular foods sold on both campuses revealed West Campus to have more reasonable food prices than students claim.
A simple comparison of some popular items at Wits shows that East campus prices are higher in some instances. Graphic: Dinesh Balliah
by Dineo Bendile | Apr 5, 2013 | News
The Wits School of Law has begun its search for a new head of school following the recent resignation of Prof Jonathan Klaaren at the end of last quarter.
After serving as the acting head of school from August 2010, Klaaren took up the permanent position in July 2011.
Klaaren’s resignation was allegedly motivated by a vote of no confidence lodged against him by six professors at the school.
A fellow professor and law lecturer confirmed she and several of her colleagues had laid a complaint against Klaaren. Speaking about the reasons behind the vote she said: “I can’t say much except to tell you that the complaint against Professor Klaaren was more concerning his management style.” She said the vote was not motivated by allegations of anything illegal.
Klaaren said he preferred not to comment on the claims as the matter is still the subject of an official university process.
In an interview with the Wits Vuvuzela, the Dean of Commerce, Law and Management, Professor Nqosa Mahao, said that a process of mediation was attempted following the vote. “The mediation process didn’t work. Professor Klaaren’s offer to resign was accepted by the dean and that’s what happened.”
According to a vacancy post issued by the university, the position of head of school is offered to the successful candidate for a period of up to five years.
Following Klaaren’s resignation, the School of Law will seek to appoint its third head of school since 2008.
Since 2008, each successive head of school has served shorter and shorter periods in the job.
Prof Glenda Fick served as head of school from 2003 to 2007. Her position was followed by Prof Angelo Pantazis, who served from 2008 to 2010. Klaaren served a little less than two years as the head of school.
Mahao said he recognises high turnover as a problem that extends beyond the School of Law, even affecting the position of the dean in the faculty. He said the university was aware of a wider issue of high turnover and was considering conducting a review to find an explanation.
In addition to Klaaren’s resignation, two other heads of school in the faculty have resigned; in the schools of Accountancy and Economic & Business Sciences.
“We need to really look into this matter and see what is happening,” Mahao said.
Speaking about the effect of the changes on the school’s development, Mahao said in any situation where constant change occurs there would be a loss of institutional memory and continuity that would ultimately affect the institution.
Professor Mtende Mhango is currently the acting head of school until a permanent candidate is appointed. Klaaren maintains his position as a full professor at the School of Law.
by Dineo Bendile | Mar 11, 2013 | Featured 1, News
Several former students, including the woman pictured, have come forward to accuse Media Studies lecturer Dr Last Moyo of inappropriate sexual behaviour, something he denies. The allegations come on the heels of media reports that a senior drama lecturer, Tsepo wa Mamatu, has also had allegations of rape and sexual harassment against him and has been put on special leave.
Photo: Jay Caboz
Wits Media Studies students are the latest to come forward to accuse a lecturer of improper conduct.
The university is facing a storm after the suspension last week of drama lecturer Tsepo wa Mamatu and Sunday Times’ report of sexual harassment allegations from a number of Wits students.
The controversy has resulted in debate among students, closed meetings between students and faculty of the drama department and promises by incoming vice-chancellor Adam Habib that the present system of reporting sexual harassment should change.
Now six students are claiming that they have also been at the mercy of improper conduct by a male lecturer in Media Studies.
Dr Last Moyo, a senior lecturer in Media Studies, is said to have made inappropriate suggestive comments to several of his students. Moyo has denied these accusations in an interview with the Wits Vuvuzela.
Former student Lombe Kabinga alleges uncomfortable physical contact during a consultation. She says she went to Moyo’s office to submit a summary in 2011, and he told her to put it in a box on his desk, which he was standing in front of.
“He stood close to a box that didn’t even have assignments in it. It just had like a random pile of books.” When bending over to place her summary in the box, Kabinga claims the lecturer casually touched her behind. The student claims to have quickly left the office and did not return for any further consultations. Soon after her ordeal Kabinga heard talk of other students who had experienced similar misconduct. “I found out such things happen in his office,” she said.
Moyo said the claims came as a shock as he had never heard of any allegations that pointed to him and improper conduct with students. “These allegations that are being made here are really unrealistic as far as my own personality and my own attitude with my students is concerned.”
He said that he supported efforts to curb sexual harassment on campus and felt that the allegation involving him touching a student was fabricated: “I’m an academic, I know what constitutes sexual harassment and I wouldn’t,” he said. “I’ve never in this office tried to touch any student or touched any student.” He said the allegations may have surfaced as a result of a miscommunication with students, and that it was easy to misinterpret friendly comments. Moyo said he was willing to apologise directly to students if any comments he made may have caused humiliation.
Kabinga is one of several students that said they had experienced inappropriate comments and uncomfortable behaviour from Moyo.
Facebook and email contact
Refilwe Kumalo, a third-year Media Studies student, says that she was going through personal issues in 2011 and often needed lecturer assistance. “I was going through some stuff so I often had to consult because sometimes I’d miss classes and submissions.” Kumalo claims that her lecturer started becoming personal and sexual, sending Facebook and BBM invites and even emails telling her that she was beautiful and that he wanted to know her better. “One time he tried to hug me during a consultation,” she said.
She says that Moyo invited her to his house on one occasion saying that his wife would be away. That’s when she decided it had to end. “I went to the SRC with it, but I’d deleted all messages so I had no proof,” she said. Kumalo claims that his behaviour impacted her class participation and attendance: “I mean, it’s difficult to go to a lecture when this man is staring at you.”
The consultation room
A former Witsie now studying at the University of KwaZulu-Natal was a first year student when she had a similar experience. She alleges that on several occasions the lecturer would invite students to his office for consultations, a practice that is normal of any university institution. But she and several other classmates began to find his behaviour inappropriate. She claims that after lectures “you would go to him to ask something so small and he’d say: ‘I’ll help you only if you come to my office.’ He was very sexual in that approach.”
His remarks left her feeling uncomfortable in lectures. Fearing that the behaviour would become explicit, the student took extreme measures to avoid all contact by dropping the module. “I went to his office and told him I couldn’t carry on anymore.” She claims that he discouraged her from dropping the module over something so small and said the matter could easily be solved.
A third year BA student, who chose to keep her identity hidden, says that in a consultation about her academics Moyo expressed interest in her Zimbabwean nationality, something the two of them had in common. “I thought it was just a matter of interest because we were from the same place. He’d talk and engage about it.” But the student soon started feeling uncomfortable. She claims the lecturer would often ask to see her in his office about academic issues, but these consultations quickly turned personal. “He would ask personal things like what I enjoyed doing on weekends and say we should meet up and get to know each other more.” The student quickly realised that the situation was inappropriate. “You can tell when a man is more interested in you than in the assignment,” she said. Like other students, she began to steer clear of the lecturer and avoided going in for any further consultations.
Comments on students’ appearance
A Wits Media Studies graduate says she was in her third year and struggling to understand course content and often consulted with Moyo. The student claims that during a consultation, he asked her why she dressed so modestly and told her how beautiful she looked. “This might be a simple gesture of appreciating ones looks, but now actually I think of it, it might’ve been a way for him to lure me in and make me ‘comfortable’”. The student claims the lecturer would stare at her during lectures instead of focusing on the whole class and she felt uncomfortable about seeing him for further consultations.
Students claim Moyo was not extremely persistent with his efforts and would stop his advances once they avoided him and avoided going in for consultations in his office.
*Media Studies is a separate department from Journalism and Media Studies
I was a third year student in Dr Last Moyo’s class when I walked up to him after a lecture to thank him for an informative session. He asked for my surname. That afternoon I received a Facebook message from him telling me that he liked my “maturity” and that I was “laid-back. He asked if we could be friends, a move that I felt was uncalled for.
I told him that I felt it was inappropriate behaviour and asked that we not make any further contact. He respected my wishes and I did not receive any more messages from him. But the next few lectures were uncomfortable and I worried that my decision would affect my academics. Not too long after this incident, I went to the department with a friend to fetch our essay scripts. We were due to write an exam soon and I was going to use my script to prepare. But after checking the pile of scripts multiple times with my friend and the administrator at the department, I realised that among the large pile of returned scripts, mine had gone missing. Knowing of the experiences of some of my classmates, and the Facebook messages I had received, I was reluctant to go into his office to look for my essay. I never did go into the consultation room to look for the essay; neither did I place a report of improper conduct with the department.
Like most girls I brushed it off. It was the end of term of my last year in Media Studies and I just thought it was something I would never have to deal with again.
by Dineo Bendile | Mar 5, 2013 | News
The story of senior Wits drama lecturer Tsepo wa Mamatu allegedly fondling and sexually harassing students, and even raping one of them, has focused many people’s attention on what constitutes as an improper relationship between a lecturer and a student.
On Twitter particularly, former students of the accomplished actor, director and playwright have spoken about how wa Mamatu allegedly used his position as lecturer to pressure students into sexual acts under the guise that it was for the benefit of their education.
Tweets from the account of former Wits student Mary Straub (@merrystrwberry) have been frequent and detail her experiences in the Drama department.
Yesterday a tweet from the account read: “We were told we are brilliant, but our unwillingness ‘to go all the way’ would cost us marks.”
In reply to Straub’s question as to whether sexual abuse at Wits had become institutionalized among lecturers, a tweet from journalist Katherine Child (@katthechild), read: “Yes, and a history of turning a blind eye. And re-hiring perpetrators students had spoken out about”.
Wits’ Head of Communications, Shirona Patel (@shirona37), defended the university’s efforts to protect students, saying in a tweet: “Wits is doing all it can- it never covers up these issues- need as much evidence as possible”.
In a speech he gave at the Wits Great Hall last year, Nobel Laureate and celebrated author, JM Coetzee urged more male students to become teachers, and said that “it will be good for society in general, particularly at this time in history when men who enjoy working with children are suddenly under so much suspicion.”
What the tweets have not answered, and a question Coetzee implies, is whether an emotional connection between teacher and student is possible in the times we live in, especially between male lecturer and female student?
Wa Mamatu, as a lecturer in a small department, had the opportunity to shape the development of his students on an individual basis, a type of impact rarely found in larger departments.
The close interaction between lecturers and students in smaller settings creates an ideal environment for highly focused monitoring of student development. It’s an environment that has the ability to remove the power imbalances between students and lecturers. It’s what could be called a professional intimacy, one where the teacher can positively influence the student. A beautiful paradox when done right, a shame when done wrong. But how are students ever to know when it’s wrong?
Like many others who misuse their power against students, wa Mamatu seems to have blurred the boundaries and used that intimacy for personal gain, turning what could have been a fruitful partnership into a show of power and dominance.
However, a stronger inter-student relationship between female students spanning generations, able to warn and protect each other from sex pests, seems to have emerged ‘organically’ on Twitter and is filtering onto campus as a result. Could this be social media’s answer to violent patriarchy?