Doubts of fairness over LSC election

The Law Student’s Council (LSC) candidates spent the past week making sweet promises to fellow law students in a bid to be elected – but some candidates fear they have already been put at a disadvantage.

Nkululeko Nkosi, a member of the group of candidates known as Adhoc 10, said the group was worried about the fairness of the elections.

Nkosi accused a member of their opposing group, The Bar, of conducting their campaign unethically, by starting campaigning earlier than the official date.

[pullquote align=”right”]”We are further disappointed at the involvement of the incumbent LSC in the matter,” [/pullquote]

They are biased

“We are further disappointed at the involvement of the incumbent LSC in the matter,” said Nkosi. “We believe that the LSC has shown bias towards the said group.” Nkosi also accused SRC member Jamie Mighti of using SRC resources like printing and its boardroom for meetings to further The Bar’s “agenda”.

He said their access to SRC resources also explained how they were able to afford their print-outs. Nkosi said he was worried that members of a body charged with overseeing the elections were affiliating themselves with certain groups.

Incumbent LSC chairperson Monchadi Kekana said there was no cause for concern: “We are impartial at all times and we don’t have any influence over the election results.”

Everything is fine

Kekana said the matter had been investigated and the Electoral Committee had decided members of The Bar could still run in the elections.  She said she had consulted the LSC and SRC constitutions and finally the Electoral Committee.  She had made recommendations to the Electoral Committee, which had made the final ruling.

He is a hypocrite

Nkosi, on the other hand, insisted that “the integrity of the SRC had already been compromised” by Mighti’s actions. Mighti denied any association with The Bar and said he had been cleared of any wrong doing: “It is very ironic that a known member of the PYA himself backed by former and current SRC members publicly and privately is pointing a finger.”

[pullquote align=”right”]”We are impartial at all times and we don’t have any influence over the election results.”[/pullquote]

The elections took place on Thursday and the results will be released today on noticeboards around campus.

This year the election were highly competitive with over 50 students running as candidates.

The votes will be counted by the Electoral Committee in the presence of a member of the Student Development and Leadership Unit.

LSC Elections: Adhoc fears erased


ABOVE: Members of the Group Adhoc 10 promised to work hard to make law students’ academic lives better.

Adhoc 10 won six of the 13 seats in the Law Student’s Council elections that were held on Thursday.

According to Nkululeko Nkosi, the group were pleased with the results even though not all of their members were voted into the council.

Earlier this week Nkosi, whose group has received support from individual Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) members, complained about another of the groups that was also running for office, The Bar.

Nkosi said no one from The Bar was elected into the Council and he was confident that they would work well with the people that have been elected: “We have a good relationship with everyone who was elected in so we work well together.”

He accused The Bar, some of whose members are also Project W members, of unethical campaigning and receiving help from some SRC members with their campaign. Nkosi  specifically referred to Project W’s Jamie Mighti who is a member of the SRC.

Project W won seven of the 15 seats in the SRC elections last year, ending years of the PYA’s majority dominance in the SRC.  Mighti accused Nkosi of being a PYA affiliate who just wanted to tarnish his reputation.

The candidates who were elected to the 2014 council are:



Girton Hall star struck

HOTEL LIVING: Girton Hall residents are enjoying “state of the art “facilities.                   Photo: Roxanne Joseph

HOTEL LIVING: Girton Hall residents are enjoying “state of the art “facilities. Photo: Roxanne Joseph

By Emelia Motsai and Roxanne Joseph

Wits ladies residence, Girton Hall, is a mere star away from achieving three star status according to the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa.

Girton Hall was recently awarded two stars in the backpackers and hostelling category. Director of housing and residence life Rob Sharman said the university wanted to get accredited because they used residences during vacations for conference accommodation and “needed to assure potential users that our facilities will meet their expectations”.

“University residences have to operate in the most cost-effective manner possible, and it is a requirement of the Department of Higher Education & Training that they are financially fully self-sufficient. Hence our decision to seek the assistance of the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa,” said Sharman.

[pullquote align=”right”]“The bathrooms are never dirty and gross and if your bin gets full, you just put it outside your room and someone empties it.” [/pullquote]

Wits had performed very well in the review of student residences in 2010/11, Sharman said, but “I felt that we should also seek benchmarks that are not solely based on student residences at other universities.”

Girton Hall was evaluated on the condition of the premises, and essential services offered.

Shruti Brijkumar, a student who stays at the res, agreed that the residence was worthy of the stars it had received: “It’s really clean. They clean your room once a week and wax the floors.”

Another student, Micaela Gradidge, said the posturepaedic mattresses were a favourite for her: “[they are] really comfortable.”

Gradidge said she also appreciated how clean their residence was: “The bathrooms are never dirty and gross and if your bin gets full, you just put it outside your room and someone empties it.” Gradidge said the food was also a lot better this year compared to last year. She had “stopped eating in res in the second semester, because the food was so bad.” Sharman said Girton Hall was a pilot in a project that will be rolled out to other residences. “By midyear we anticipate that Medhurst and Reith [residences] will also have been assessed.” He said Girton, Medhurst and Reith bathrooms were undergoing total renovation. They are also creating more tea/snack kitchens for the convenience of students.  Laundry facilities at the three residences would be upgraded this year.

According to Sharman the university’s residence capacity has been increased from 3 100 to 6 100 beds and the types of residences have “been extended to include state-of-the art facilities and accommodation in some of our newer reside

Boffins want books badly

Wits lecturers are on the brink of spilling out of their ivory towers – and onto the lawns.

They are threatening protest action if the university does not allocate money for library books for 2014.
Lecturers have been up in arms since last week after they received an email informing them that there was no budget allocation in 2014 for books.
“All librarians were informed that there was no budget allocation this year for books. Whether this situation will change in months to follow, I cannot say for certain,” said the email.

[pullquote align=”right”]“I am not sad – I am mad! This is totally outrageous!”[/pullquote]

Lecturers outraged

Outraged, lecturers wasted no time responding, and in a highly emotive manner, emails were flying fast and furious: “I am not sad – I am mad! This is totally outrageous! I do hope that this is the result of an oversight,” said a lecturer in response to the email. The lecturer urged his colleagues to not take this “lying down”: “The school needs to protest.” Some exercised caution by saying they should write letters to the VC, while others said this may be a “mistake”.
Another lecturer responded to the email by saying “What??? This is absurd. How can we be speaking of the ‘top one hundred’, and have no library budget! Crazy.”

Wits staff are not shy to strike. In 2012, Academic Staff Association of Wits University members took to protesting at the university gates, chanting for more pay, alleging that they earned less than their peers at other institutions in the country. About 150 lecturers and staff members protested over their pay. They demanded a 9% increase, and the establishment of child care facilities. Some of the workers who joined the academics on strike said they earned as little as R20 000 a year.

[pullquote]”We currently have a shortfall on the information resources budget for books in 2014.”[/pullquote]


We don’t have the money

Deputy Vice Chancellor for Knowledge and Information Management, Infrastructure and Operations Beatrys Lacquet, said the situation was a result of the weak and depreciating rand, increases by publishers and VAT payments.
“This component of the budget is specifically sensitive to increases by the publishing houses and the value of the currency as a very large percentage of our holding is sourced outside of South Africa,” said Lacquet.
Lacquet said the university had paid for the 2014 electronic media, including databases and e-books, in December 2013: “We currently have a shortfall on the information resources budget for books in 2014.”

Lacquet said the matter was receiving attention and had been put on the agenda of the next senior executive team meeting: “We know that information resources are core to a university, and we are looking at mechanisms to address the challenges.” The product manager at Van Schaik, Ermien Louw, said that the weak rand had had a significant impact on prices, “it has resulted in a 25% increase on United States dollar priced books, and in the case of GBP [Great Britain pound] priced books an increase of 30%.”

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Witsie creates world’s first robotic guitar

ROCKIN’  ROBOTS: Wearing a motion capture suit Jonathan Crossley is able to synhroniose the electronic with the acoustic sounds                                  from his guitar.                                                                   Photo: Emelia Motsai

ROCKIN’ ROBOTS: Wearing a motion capture suit Jonathan Crossley is able to synhroniose the electronic with the acoustic sounds from his guitar. Photo: Emelia Motsai

WITS PHD student has created a robotic guitar that could end musicians’ dilemma- choosing between electronic and traditional musical instruments.
Jonathan Crossley, a music lecturer and PHD student at Wits, created the robotic device by combining an ordinary guitar with a motion capture suit similar to that used to create special effects in movies. But instead of generating images, the suit enables him to manipulate the sounds he makes while playing his guitar. This allows him to synchronise the electronic with the acoustic.

[pullquote align=”right”]The computer then creates a different sound from that motion, resulting in a unique effect for every motion[/pullquote]

“Then [with an old guitar] you could not change the sound in multiple ways while you were playing. The [robotic] guitar allows you to do that. You are still performing and improvising but you are enabling it through technology now,” said Crossley.
The suit maps out the different motions that the performers make while playing and sends them to a computer. The computer then creates a different sound from that motion, resulting in a unique effect for every motion.

More than a guitar
“The guitar itself has three outputs and 60 different controls built-in, a normal guitar only has one output and three controls. It has three digital delays, ring modular and mic input.”
According to Crossley, his invention was not unique. The real innovation was in how he is using it to extend the sound of the guitar.The robotic guitar is Crossley’s PHD thesis and he will be playing for his assessors in a show on February 22, at Wits. This will be the guitar’s first outing in South Africa and is open to the public.Crossley demonstrated his guitar for Wits Vuvuzela. The sound was…unique and little bit like random noise. However, Crossley said the music produced by the robotic guitar will make sense when performed with other musical instruments, as will be case in the February 22 show.

Mixing the old with the new

Crossley said it had taken four years from conceptualizing the idea to where it is right now. He bought the motion-capture suit from a company in the United Kingdom. He had initially wanted to build the suit himself but realized it would cost much less to buy it. Crossley has been playing guitar for 31 years and said that he made the robotic guitar because he wanted to combine the old with the new.

“Rather than say, ‘Well now, I’m going to stop playing the guitar and I’m going to stand behind a laptop’, you can do both,” he said.

For more information on Crossley’s robotic guitar, including performances with this unique instrument, visit his website at

Community radio: the bridge between citizens and policy makers

Tim Modise reminded graduates at the Wits Radio Academy of the importance of their work as radio broadcasters within their communities. Photo: Emelia Motsai.

Tim Modise reminded graduates at the Wits Radio Academy of the importance of their work as radio broadcasters within their communities. Photo: Emelia Motsai.

Community media has an vital role to play in helping policy makers understand what it is their constituencies want and need.

This is according to veteran radio station journalist, Tim Modise who was speaking at the Wits Radio Academy graduations yesterday. Modise encouraged the graduates not think lightly of their roles in community radio stations as the work they do is important.

“The local communities we serve need our services. It’s clear that from the service delivery protests that are happening at a very, very local level that there are policy problems,” said Modise. Modise also reminded the graduates and guests that excelling as in community radio would also help them later on in their careers and distinguish them from others as they have “more empathy and understanding on how to cover community stories.”

“The African story is waiting to be told, it can only be told by skilled and talented people like you,” said Modise

It was joy all around when the director of Wits Radio Academy, Franz Kruger, handed out a certificate to a graduates.

It was joy all around when as Director of Wits Radio Academy, Professor Franz Kruger, handed out certificate to graduates. Pictured with him is KayDee Moalusi, left.

Director of Wits Radio Academy, Prof Franz Kruger said the aim of the academy was not only to equip students with the right skills to work in radio but they also wanted to produce “smart radio broadcasters” who can critically engage with issues.

One of the graduates Keadimilwe (KayDee) Moalusi, said one of her favourite parts of the course was learning about the history of radio. Even though she was already on radio Moalusi said she joined the course to “empower herself”.  Since enrolling in the course she has been promoted to the host of the afternoon drive show at HopeFM.

The Radio Academy has been running for four years and 17 students from community stations all over South Africa graduated this year.

PYA-EFF spat leaves disabled students out in the cold

PYA members burning project W T-shirts. Picture provided.

PYA members burning Project W t-shirts. Picture provided.

DISABLED Wits students lost their place at O-week due to an ugly spat between the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) and Wits Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
Members of the Wits Disability Unit—an office dedicated to helping disabled students—lost their spot in the O-week clubs and societies tent on Wednesday when their table was allegedly taken over by Wits EFF.The Wits Disability Unit was left off to the side with their materials pinned haphazardly to a table manned by three of their members, two of whom were in wheelchairs.
“Now we have to put our posters here,” said a unit member pointing to posters glued to a table.

[pullquote align=”right”]”They will never register us, they are ANC. They lie and say that we didn’t submit at all”[/pullquote]

The unit had a spot in the tent but, unlike many other clubs and societies, their table was without amenities like a bulletin board.
Wits EFF Chair, Vuyani Pambo said SRC clubs and societies portfolio holder Sarah Mokwebo asked Campus Control to evict Wits EFF from the tent. Mokwebo told them the Wits EFF table belonged to the Wits Disability Unit. She attempted to lead the Disability Unit back to the table occupied by Wits EFF but the red-beret clad students refused to move. “We won’t concede the space. We have our freedom of expression,” Pambo said.
Pambo accused Mokwebo of using the disabled students for “cheap politics”.
“She’s trying to play cheap politics by using disabled people. She was riding them on their wheel chairs,” Pambo said.
Both Mokwebo and SRC secretary Michlene Mongae declined to comment to Wits Vuvuzela on the spat with Wits EFF. Wits EFF are not a recognised club and society at Wits.Pambo said this was due to a rivalry with the PYA—which includes the ANC Youth League—that dominates the SRC. “They say we are not a club,” said Pambo.

“They will never register us, they are ANC. They lie and say that we didn’t submit at all.”

Wits EFF was not the only one of the PYA’s political rivals to be made unwelcome in the clubs and societies tent. On Tuesday, Projected W was forcibly ejected from the tent by PYA members led by Mokwebo. Like Wits EFF, Project W is not a recognised club and society at Wits.In cellphone pictures sent to Wits Vuvuzela by Project W, PYA members can be seen setting Project W t-shirts alight and stamping them underfoot.

Project W SRC member Jamie Mighti told Wits Vuvuzela that his organisation was “banned” last year because of its constitution. Mokwebo rejected the claim that Project W had been banned. “It never existed,” she said.
Sithembiso Mphunyane, the secretary of the Wits SA Students Congress, said Project W and Wits EFF should not complain because “the law took its course”.
“[EFF] are an excited newborn…however they failed [to] meet the requirements by virtue of them not applying on time. Therefore [they] are not eligible to do anything on campus, they are not in any position to talk to students,” Mphunyane said.
Mphunyane called Project W “excited clowns that are just excited and mushroomed out the conditions of excitement”.
Mphunyane said they removed Project W from the tent at the request of the PYA members of the SRC.
However, he denied the PYA had used “physical” means to remove Project W.


UPDATED: Project W “banned” from Wits


The Project W twitter account shared this image on Tuesday allegedly showing the intimidation of their members by the PYA. Photo: Twitter.

UPDATE: The Wits branch of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), has accused the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) of political intolerance after the PYA attempted to remove EFF from the clubs and society tent earlier on today.

Campus control officers were called, apparently by SRC clubs and society portfolio holder, Sarah Mokwebo, to remove EFF members from the table which they were occupying in the tent.

“They said we are not registered. We are not a club and society,” said EFF Wits chairperson Vuyani Pambo. Pambo admitted that EFF was not a registered club but said they would not move just because an “ANC-led SRC does not want EFF.” Even though they refused to move, Pambo said they did willingly give Campus Control their details.

*Details to follow in Friday’s newspaper. 

ORIGINAL STORY: A squabble broke out during O-week on Tuesday after Project W was  “banned” and told it could no longer operate as a club or society at Wits.

The altercation took place in the O-week Clubs and Society tent when Project W set up a table there.

Project W SRC member Jamie Mighti told Wits Vuvuzela Project W was banned last year for “having a constitution that is not in line with the SRC’s constitution”.

Mighti, said Project W had appealed the ban and decided to set up their table at the Clubs and Societies tent because “we were banned illegally.”

He said the squabble began when SRC clubs and society portfolio holder and Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) member Sarah Mokwebo came over to their table and told them to leave. Mighti said other PYA “comrades” came and started forcibly moving them.

Ethan Genende Donates a can of beans in the Project W donation Bin outside the matrix.

Project W who form part of the SRC this year has been disbanded.

“[It] is not their job to do, that is the job of campus control,” complained Mighti.

He said he has laid assault charges against Mokwebo with Campus Control.

Mighti said the decision to ban Project W was not taken by the SRC as a whole but was made by SRC president and PYA member Shafee Verachia and Mokwebo.

Mokwebo rejected Mighti’s claim that Project W had been “banned”.

“It never existed,” Mokwebo said.

Mokwebo refused to comment further. Verachia could not be reached for comment.

Last year, the PYA won a narrow majority during the SRC elections. Eight PYA member and seven Project W members were elected to make up the 2013/14 SRC. One Project W SRC member, Kay Mlaba, has since left Wits and her position on the SRC.  There will be no replacement for Mlaba. She held the international relations portfolio which will now be taken over by another member of the SRC.


Wits a beneficiary in Mandela’s will

Nelson Mandela received an honorary doctorate in law from Wits University in 1991. Pic: Wits University.

Nelson Mandela received an honorary doctorate in law from Wits University in 1991. Pic: Wits University.

Nelson Mandela has left about R100 000 to Wits University in his will. This was revealed earlier today at a reading of the   will in Houghton.

“The University of the Witwatersrand is honoured and deeply appreciative to learn that it is a beneficiary of former president Nelson Mandela’s legacy, and we are indeed humbled that he chose to remember the University in his will,” said Wits vice-chancellor, Professor Adam Habib.

The Clarkebury Institute, Fort Hare University and Orlando West High School also received the same amount from the former statesman who passed away on 05 December, 2013. Mandela studied law at Wits University in 1943 and received a honorary doctorate in law from the university in 1991.

“Wits accepts this generous bequest from one of our most illustrious alumni and commits to using it to address the development of higher education in South Africa,”

Habib also said the university understood that the “endowment brings with it a tremendous responsibility, given the character and legacy of our great leader and his commitment to the transformative power of education.

“Thank you, Tata, for remembering us in your will – you live on in our memory and in our lives”

The will was read by Deputy Chief Justice and Wits University chancellor, Dikgang Moseneke. Mandela’s estate is said to be worth around R46 million.

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