Apology to lecturer and student

Wits Vuvuzela published a report on 8 September about a university investigation into a romantic relationship between a lecturer and a student in the School of Geology, Archaeology and Environmental Sciences. The couple, who were not named in the report, laid a complaint with Press Ombud Johan Retief, who ruled that while we had obtained comment from the lecturer concerned, we were at fault in not having obtained comment from the affected student, and ordered us to apologise to her. We do so unreservedly. We have offered her the opportunity to respond to the story, but she has elected not to take up the offer.

After the initial report, Wits Vuvuzela received a letter of demand from the complainants’ lawyers, demanding that no more reports on the matter should be published. In the letter, they stated that complainants against the couple had withdrawn allegations against them. The Ombud also ruled we should have reported this particular statement in the lawyers’ letter in our follow-up report, and ordered us to apologise for not having done so. We apologise for this also.

 The Ombud ruled in favour of Wits Vuvuzela on seven other complaints by the couple.

 Visit www.presscouncil.org.za for the full finding.

Community service for Wits 11

Vice Chancellor, Adam Habib addresses the media on the release of findings into the investigation into the matter of sexual harassment on campus by Norton Rose legal firm. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

Wits vice-chancellor Professor Adam Habib. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

Wits vice-chancellor Professor Adam Habib has announced the verdict in the case against 11 Wits students charged with disruption of a concert on campus last year. The following statement was received via email a few minutes ago.


The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, today announced that a verdict has been reached in a case which saw 11 students charged for the disruption of a concert by musician Yossi Reshef on its campus last year.

Ten students have been found guilty of misconduct for disrupting or inciting others to disrupt the piano recital. They have been excluded from the University for a period of one year. The sentence is suspended provided that the students are not found guilty of any other form of misconduct for a period of two years. These students will not be allowed to hold any office in any student governance structure for a period of one year. In addition, they will each have to perform 80 hours of community service, as determined by the University.

One of these students has further been found guilty of not obeying a lawful instruction issued by a University employee, and will be required to perform an additional 50 hours of community service for this offence.

The verdict was handed to the University by an independent advocate today, Friday, 17 January 2014. The Senior Counsel was appointed in terms of the University’s Rules for Student Discipline to act in lieu of a Student Discipline Committee, to chair the disciplinary hearing, to carry out all of its functions and to exercise all its powers in line with the University’s policies, procedures and processes.

Wits is renowned for encouraging freedom of expression, dialogue and debate on often diverse and conflicting views confronting society, provided that it does not exceed the limitations explicated in our Constitution. The University provides a platform for different constituencies to express their views and opinions through considered debate and intellectual engagement in the spirit of tolerance, respect and openness.

The diversity of people, programmes and ideas at Wits leads to the richness and robustness of the institution. This is indeed one of the greatest qualities of excellent higher education institutions, and one which Wits cherishes.

Professor Adam Habib
Vice-Chancellor and Principal
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

17 January 2014”


OPINION: First hello, final goodbye

Shandukani Mulaudzi writes of the day she finally saw Nelson Mandela – as his body lay in state in Pretoria, South Africa. 

ShanduAs a child I had always wanted to meet Nelson Mandela. I heard about him shaking children’s hands and smiling at them. Some of my classmates had been fortunate enough to meet him and I too longed for the moment where his hand would meet mine and I would be able to brag that I had met a real life hero.

In 1997 we moved to Arcadia and the Union Buildings were right up the road. I assumed Mandela lived there and imagined that one day I would see him driving out and he would at least wave at me. It didn’t happen, he left the presidency and I grew up. I became “too cool for school” and became satisfied with admiring his greatness from afar.

[pullquote align=”right”]”It’s over. Mandela is really gone”[/pullquote]

I finally saw him today and not in the way that I had once hoped for. His smile was wiped off his face and he couldn’t hold my hand nor could I hold his. The colour had been drained off his face and he looked more grey than brown. His face looked like clay. I was sad and what hurt the most was that I couldn’t even see his face fully because I am a little bit too short. I saw enough though. He looked peaceful and that comforted me.

As I walked away from the casket I saw officials on the other side holding out tissues for those who were crying. I did not cry – well at least not immediately.

[pullquote align=”left”]”You left us in the dark. We are powerless.” [/pullquote]

I went down the stairs from the amphitheatre in search of someone who would tell me how they felt about seeing his body lying there. I wanted to know how it felt for them to know that he had breathed his last breath and would no longer be able to share the wisdom and teachings he was known for.

As I walked I overheard a man say: “Ja ne! Go fedile. O tsamaile ka nnete Mandela” (It’s over. Mandela is really gone).

That was when the finality of it all dawned on me. I watched other journalists scramble to speak to people and ask them questions. I had never seen a corpse before this and I needed a moment. Just as I was about to go find a corner where I could bury my face in my dress a man approached me asking for something.


Joseph Tekela travelled from Qwa-Qwa to bid Mandela a final farewell. Photo: Shandukani Mulaudzi.

He was holding his crutch in one hand and an envelope in the other. His ANC shirt sparked my interest and I decided to ask him how he was feeling. He told me that for the first time in his life he saw a corpse and cried.

He told me his name is Joseph Tekela and he is the chairman of the Disability Forum in Qwa-Qwa. He and his colleagues travelled to Johannesburg on September 4 this year to pray for Mandela and wish him well. They had hoped he would get better because they still needed him.

Tekela read his card to me. Some of the words were:

“We thought he would fight for us for the implementation of a two-percent of disability employment. We thought he would fight for us for being included for RDP beneficiary for disability in Qwa-Qwa. Your death crushes our hopes of getting what we deserve. You left us in the dark. We are powerless.”

I left the Union Buildings after speaking to Tekela.  His story broke my heart and it was then that I thanked the Lord for my sunglasses which hid the tears that were now welling up in my eyes.

I overcame my fear of seeing a dead body to pay my final respects to a man who gave his life to a cause he so strongly believed in. Tata Rolihlahla Mandela was a beacon of hope for all and even though he had not been involved in politics for years many still saw him as the man who would save them from the injustices they still face in our country.

Today I saw him for the first time and I said goodbye to him too.  The moment was brief and perhaps a little traumatic but it was well worth it.

R.I.P. Nelson Mandela.


Student journos tell the tales of Chinese Joburg


Students of the Wits Journalism program launched Chinese Joburg, a website that chronicles the many narratives of the Chinese community of Johannesburg, South Africa.

Comprising a 2000-word feature story and a multimedia production each, the class of 17 (also known  as #teamvuvu) spent a month researching this multi-faceted and often guarded community . The stories range from personal family histories spanning several generations to discussions of themes such as gender, birth, death, self-identity and even expat living among this community.

Some of the multimedia elements include a video about dragon-boat racing in Johannesburg, interviews with a feng shui practitioner and a mandarin-speaking street vendor.

The students completed this project in fulfillment of their Honours in Journalism degree at Wits.

Visit the site at: www.chinesejoburg.com




CRICKET: Witsie helps out the Proteas

by The Wits School of Health Sciences

Dr Kerith Aginsky. Photo: Provided.

Dr Kerith Aginsky. Photo: Provided.

Dr Kerith Aginsky, a professional biokineticist at the Centre for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, conducted research for South Africa’s national cricket side on a throwing technique that helps cricketers get the ball back to the stumps faster.

‘Our research showed that the time taken to release the ball was quicker, which increases the chance of a run out. The accuracy of throwing the ball at the stumps remained consistent,’ says Aginksy.

In 2012 she tested a technique created by the Proteas’ strength and conditioning coach Rob Walter. The national side started using this technique in 2011 and they wanted to see if research upheld his conviction that it made a difference to the game.

‘The aim of this technique is to keep the fielder much lower to the ground so that after he picks up the ball he throws it back from a lower body position. The rationale is that it takes time to stand up and release the ball, and the time difference between the two techniques is what we researched,’ explains Aginsky. She worked on this research with the South African National Cricket Academy’s strength and conditioning coach Greg King who has a Masters in Sports Science from Rhodes University.

The new technique was aimed at inner ring fielders, within 20 to 30 metres from the stumps. They tested it on approximately 20 National Academy players – the up and coming players who attend an annual training academy for fitness and coaching sessions at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria.

Three video cameras to film the fielders

They used three video cameras to film the fielders, two shooting at 50 frames per second and one high speed camera at 120 frames per second, positioned at an angle that captured both the fielder and the stumps in each frame.

‘We based our results on the high speed camera to capture the greatest accuracy in terms of subtle changes from pick up to release,’ Aginsky explains. The same fielders were tested before and after the intervention, with a two month period between the ‘before’ and ‘after’, during which time King worked with the fielders on the new throwing technique. The arm movement remains the same from the lower position, and the players picked up the new technique quickly and were comfortable using it.

The fielders were filmed in two different ways: the first was with a static ball which they picked up and threw at the stumps; the second was with a dynamic ball which was hit by the batsman; the fielder then ran to retrieve it, picked it up and threw it at the stumps.

‘We analysed the video footage frame by frame using video analysis software called Dartfish. It’s regularly used as a tool for professional cricket for a number of purposes, including assessing and analysing changes in the game, undertaking two dimensional analyses of bowling techniques and examining harmful bowling techniques,’ explains Aginsky.

More psychological pressure on the opposing batsman

‘We found that the low throw with the static ball was approximately 1.5 frames less from pick up to release than the conventional throw; and with the dynamic ball the low throw was approximately 1.2 frames less,’ says Aginsky.

‘One frame can certainly make a difference to the game, not only in terms of getting the ball back to the stumps faster but also in terms of putting more psychological pressure on the opposing batsman as to whether he should run or not because the ball is coming back faster.

‘Our research confirmed Walter’s finding that there was a definite decrease in the time taken to release the ball, and an increase in the chance of a run out. The accuracy remained fairly consistent, and the national side is now using the technique readily.’

Aginsky is widely recognised for the work she has done on lower back injuries in cricket players. In September 2012 she presented a workshop on lumbar stabilisation and ultrasound at the first ever Biokinetics Conference in South Africa. At the conference, the Biokinetics Association of Southern Africa named her as the Young Researcher of the Year.

She and King are members of the newly developed Cricket South Africa Research Committee formed in October 2012. The Committee comprises researchers from a number of South African universities who have been involved in cricket or have a specific interest in it. The Chair is Dr Janine Gray, a physiotherapist from the University of Cape Town who focuses on cricket injuries and who supervised Aginsky’s PhD on back pain.

Cricket SA will be driving the research undertaken by the Committee, depending on what is required to improve players’ strength, health and performance. ‘A lot of the cricket research to date has been ad hoc and not used. This initiative will help to ensure that it is far more targeted and, where appropriate, implemented,’ concludes Aginksy.


Wits academic resigns amid sexual harassment investigations

Dr Lord Mauko-Yevugah

Dr Lord Mauko-Yevugah who was placed on special leave in  April this year.

A fourth Wits university lecturer involved in the  sexual harassment investigation has resigned.

In an official statement released earlier this afternoon, vice-chancellor Professor Adam Habib confirmed that the fourth lecturer accused of sexual harassment had  resigned and was no longer an employee of the University.

This resignation comes after the dismissal of three other academics earlier this year, also for sexual harassment.

In April, Wits Vuvuzela revealed that Dr Lord Mawuko-Yevugah, of International Relations, had been placed on special leave pending an investigation. At the time, university officials were reluctant to reveal the exact nature of the investigations involving Mawuko-Yevugah.
But in September this year, a reliable source who wished to remain anonymous confirmed to Wits Vuvuzela that Lord-Yevugah was the fourth accused in the university’s sexual harassment investigations.
In the statement released today Habib remained consistent in not revealing the identity of the individuals at the centre of the sexual harassment cases.
He said the resignation of the fourth lecturer would bring to “an end the individual cases that the University has been investigating around sexual harassment”. He went on to say that the university would continue their zero tolerance to sexual misconduct by staff.
“It also provides us with an opportunity to remember that Wits has a zero tolerance policy towards any form of sexual harassment and that it will deal decisively with any such matters,” said Habib
Mawuko-Yevugah’s resignation comes two months after senior academics Tsepo wa Mamatu, Dr Last Moyo and Prof Rupert Taylor were found guilty of sexual harassment and dismissed from the university.
Habib thanked members of the university community for their help and support and apologised to victims of sexual harassment at Wits: “May these dreadful experiences never be repeated again – not on our campuses.”

Wits News: Book discussion on ‘Seeing like a Feminist’

[Information taken from Wits News: email wits.news@wits.ac.za]

The Centre for Indian Studies in Africa presents a book discussion on Seeing Like a Feminist (2012) by Nivedita Menon (Professor of Political Thought, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi) with Wits Professors Shireen Hassim and Isabel Hofmeyr, and associate Prof Tommaso Milani.


Date: 20 June 2013

Time: 16:00 – 18:00

Venue: CISA, 36 Jorrisen Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

Copies of the book will be on sale.