Pharmacy students show they care 

Wits fourth-year students administered free healthcare assessments to the public on campus. 

Pharmacy students put the adage ‘prevention is better than cure’ to the test on May 18. 2023, when various tests were made available to staff and students at Solomon Mahlangu House at Wits University.  

Fourth-year pharmacy student Caitlynn Pillay checking the blood pressure measurements of her patient, mechanical engineering student, Xolani Radebe. Photo: Georgia Cartwright

The Screening and Testing Programme by Pharmacy Students (STEPPS) puts students in the driving seat for the first time. A battery of tests were on offer, including but not limited to blood pressure, blood glucose, HIV and Body Mass Index (BMI).  

Dr. Ane Orchard who organized the event and observed the students’ said the aim of the program was to show people that pharmacists can also conduct healthcare assessments. Orchard said screening helps in “identifying risk factors” so patients can be proactive with their health.  

Orchard went on to explain how, like working professionals in healthcare, each pharmacy student had to sign a confidentiality agreement which serves to protect patients’ personal information. The pharmacy students also ensure that tests such as HIV tests are kept hidden from public view when they are being conducted and that only the patient receives the results. 

If a patient tests positive for HIV after two confirmed tests, they are referred to the Wits Campus Health & Wellness Centre or the Counselling and Careers Development Unit (CCDU). “A further test is then conducted, and the patient may choose which recommended treatment plan they would like to follow,” said Orchard. 

Master of pharmacy in clinical pharmacy student, Ebenezer Maimele, told Wits Vuvuzela that, “It is nice to put [the] clinical skills we have learnt over the years into practice and to interact with people who need our help.” 

Although some pharmacy students were nervous at first, this changed as the day progressed. Makhosazana Zindela, described the experience as “fulfilling,” as she finally put her training to the test.  

One patient, Xolani Radebe, said: “I trust the students because I understand that the only way to truly learn a skill is to practice it and these students are simply practicing being good pharmacists.” 

 Maimele explained that it is important to get regular checkups as a simple blood pressure test could reveal and prevent a future heart attack while other tests could prevent some serious health conditions later in life. 

There will be further free healthcare assessments as part of the STEPPS programme on July 6 at the Health Science campus, July 20 at the Education Campus, and August 3, 2023, on main campus for those interested.  

FEATURED IMAGE: Pharmacy student Thabiso Mdhlovu receiving a blood pressure measurement from classmate Sydney Mamogobo on May 18 in Solomon Mahlangu House at Wits University. Photo: Georgia Cartwright.


Humanities celebrates brightest and best

Wits University hosts awards for humanities students who excelled in various degrees at their annual prize giving.

Bachelor of arts graduate, Jenna Beckenstrater holding up her awards, including multiple certificates and the humanities silver medal which is given for meritorious achievement in a Bachelor of arts degree. Photo: Georgia Cartwright

The dean of humanities, Professor Mucha Musemwa congratulated the award winners on Tuesday, May 2 in the Great Hall and advised them to, “stay curious [and] to keep conquering” the infamous ‘Wits edge’.

Different awards were presented throughout the evening to departments in humanities including the Wits School of Education, School of Arts, School of Literature, Language, and Media and many other disciplines. At the end of the evening, the most prestigious award (the dean’s medal) was given to Bachelor of Arts graduate Tshepiso Mashigo.

Students were proud of how far they have come including Italian studies graduate Josephine Matthews (21), who told Wits Vuvuzela, “It was tough to study online but perseverance is key [and] I managed to succeed in third-year despite these challenges.”

Silver medal winner, Jenna Beckenstrater (23) described their journey as “long and stressful,” and advised current students in humanities to make friends because it can help “get you through the tough times”.

Friends and family members in attendance cheered and applauded the accomplishments of their loved ones. One family member, Alessandro Colafranceschi told Wits Vuvuzela that watching his daughter receive a prize filled him with an “overwhelming sense of pride and joy”.

Award-winners were excited to have accomplished so much in their degrees, like Wits centre for Journalism’s very own, 2022 Student Journalist of the Year, Tannur Anders (23) who said students should, “Go for it! Immerse yourself in it and say “yes” to every opportunity,” adding that “you never know what you might learn”. Anders now works as an editorial intern for Thomson Reuters, showing the true possibilities of pushing yourself the extra mile.

Musemwa thanked humanities staff members and sponsors for their support in the department and for pushing a generation of “thinkers, doers, and world-changers” to succeed in future endeavours.

FEATURED IMAGE: The Patrick Laurence Student Journalist of the year, Tannur Anders walking across the stage in the Great Hall to receive her award. Photo: Georgia Cartwright


How social marketing can bring about behavioural change  

Wits highlights how digital platforms, through marketing, can be used as a tool to combat issues that society faces  

The Wits Business School hosted Africa’s first social marketing Association Conference at the professional development hub on east campus, last week, from April 24 to 26. 

The conference was held to promote the use of social marketing — an advertising approach which focuses on influencing people’s behavior with the primary goal of achieving a common good.  

The aim of the conference was to highlight how this form of marketing can combat some of the serious health, social, and environmental issues Africa faces, especially South Africa. 

The event brought together hundreds of academics, practitioners, and social policy makers from across the world to discuss the work they do; and how social marketing is practically solving real life issues. 

Andy Du Plessis, managing director of Food Forward SA discussed how their non-profit company uses a system of virtual food banking to reduce hunger. This is a digital platform that links its beneficiary organisations to the closest participating retail store to collect perishable and non-perishable foods, which in turn is used to feed thousands of people daily.  

The conference included discussions around corruption, which is an extremely prevalent issue in South Africa. Social justice activist Kavisha Pillay at Corruption Watch said besides working to provide a platform for reporting corruption, the organisation has also done campaigns that allow people to denounce wrongdoing.  

One of those campaigns is the “My hands are clean” initiative which encouraged South Africans to post a photo of themselves online holding up one hand, which is a sign that they are taking a stance against corruption. 

Pillay said they did this because, “confronting corruption begins with behavioural change.”  

Head of the Wits Business School, Helen Duh told Wits Vuvuzela, that the conference created opportunities for social marketing scholars to learn “from practitioners and practitioners to learn from scholars”. 

Duh then said that the school’s focus area of research was, “sustainability and well-being,” and that the conference allowed for scholars to, “reflect, debate, discuss, and recommend solutions to the various societal and environmental problems.”

She said she hopes the discussions will attract more workshops and seminars in these areas in the future.  

Chair Head, Professor Debbie Ellis from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Professor Gael O’Sullivan from Georgetown University, USA, and Leah Taub from Premise, USA preparing to engage in a discussion with scholars at the African Social Marketing Association Conference on April 25, 2023. Photo: Georgia Cartwright

FEATURED IMAGE: Leah Taub from Premise, USA giving a talk on Crowdsourcing and how it can be used to gather useful information at the Social Marketing Conference on April 25, 2023. Photo: Georgia Cartwright


SLICE: Online gaming got me through lockdown 

While gaming is not a cure for depression, it helped me to grow into a more social person, to form connections with people more easily, and helped me to feel less isolated.  

During the covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the lack of social interactions tied together with the fear and anxiety driven by fake news and conspiracies around vaccines in the media, caused my mental health to plummet.  

It was my first year of university and before I had had a chance to form connections on campus, we were thrown into a state of disaster and the country was placed on lockdown. I spent weeks feeling sorry for myself, not knowing how to entertain myself nor who to speak to besides my family who I had been locked in the house with for over three months. Eventually I turned on my PlayStation console for solace. 

While there was access to mental health services during the pandemic, many people had physical and mental restrictions that prevented them from seeking help. A democracy survey conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council and the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Social Change and Development revealed that in 2020, an estimated 33% of South Africans were depressed, 45% were fearful of catching the virus and 29% were feeling isolated and lonely. The survey consisted of 19 330 participants of different races and backgrounds, with the majority aged 25 to 59. 

I shared the sentiments expressed in the survey. That is why I turned to gaming to connect and create a reality that was less depressing than the one I found myself in. 

Gaming was my way of coping with the lack of human interaction and fewer entertainment activities brought on by the nationwide lockdown. In June 2021, Forbes Technology Council reported  an increase of 200% in people aged over 60 searching for games, joining the 93% of teens who game regularly, according to research data provided by – the world’s biggest digital marketplace for gamers. 

These statistics show that people globally turned to gaming during the pandemic because of the need to find alternative ways to connect and communicate with others amidst lockdown measures. I also wanted to alleviate my newfound depression brought on by harsh lockdown measures. 

I started playing a multiplayer, online game called Call of Duty where I met a group of people that I consider close friends to this day. We began entering e-sports competitions where we could compete in online tournaments for cash rewards. We would do this by signing up on sites such as the African Cyber Gaming League and VS Gaming where you can connect with other people who enjoy the same game as you, and became part of a large community of people from diverse backgrounds and walks of life.

Gaming has helped me overcome social anxiety by allowing me to socialise in virtual chatrooms with people from all over the world, where I have learnt better communication skills and have been able to find people I relate to more. I always struggled to find something I was passionate about as I was not very good at schoolwork and failed dismally at sport. Finding games helped me discover my true passion for e-sports and unlocked a whole new world for me. 

There are, however, studies that have found negative aspects to gaming. The Harvard Medical School reported that gaming can be associated with serious health risks such as sleep deprivation, insomnia, depression, aggression and anxiety. The report also stated that gaming can lead to a “gaming addiction”, resulting in loss of interest in activities and crucial relationships with peers, and can lead to obesity due to increased food intake while gaming. These are real issues that gamers do face, however, a general population sample report from the American Journal of Psychiatry shows that only an estimated 0.1-1% of people suffer from gaming addiction.

An American Counselling Association report also found that gaming could have negative mental health consequences including: negative coping mechanisms, unhealthy lifestyles, loneliness, isolation and depression. However, in my experience, gaming has had quite the opposite effect.

Gaming in moderation is key for absorbing the positive effects such as setting specific times to game and making sure to seek professional help when needed. To avoid the negatives associated with gaming, the Harvard Medical School suggests limiting screen time and engaging in healthy activities such as exercise or socialising physically.

Anxiety and depression are major issues the world faces today, especially after the pandemic as it has altered and changed the lives of almost everyone. Gaming is a great way to alleviate some of the strain caused by these serious mental illnesses. There are many different genres of games, so I truly believe there is a game out there for everyone to play and form connections in.  

FEATURED IMAGE: Georgia Cartwright. Photo: File


Wits Career Fair connects students with potential employers  

The Graduate Recruitment Program hosted over 20 companies to meet with students studying towards a degree in the STEM fields.

The Wits Graduate Recruitment Program (GRP) hosted a career fair for students studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — STEM — at the Wits Science Stadium this week.  

Many companies had useful guidance to offer students such as encouraging them to not overlook interpersonal skills. “Don’t always worry about marks, sometimes having a good personality and a can-do attitude gets you in the door”, a team member from Huawei said to students who were asking about their academic performance.  

The fair is part of the work of the GRP of equipping students with useful information in different fields relating to their degree, while also encouraging all students to explore various career options. 

Recruitment agencies such as Afrizan People Intelligence, alongside big companies such as Huawei, Outsurance, and KPMG, were there, offering a range of different career choices and advice to students.  

Most of the companies focused on explaining to students what they offer if the students choose to work for them while also answering questions they might have about the field.  

Companies such as Steinmuller Africa were scouting aspiring engineers for employment while other companies such as Huawei were offering bursaries to students in computer science and information technology related fields. 

STEM Career Fair Sign on a chalkboard outside the CCDU centre next to the Wits Science Stadium, advertising the fair’s details. Photo: Georgia Cartwright

Despite the large turnout of different companies, some students were unhappy with the lack of employers in fields such as pharmaceutical and biomedical science. Zamokuhle Nhlangothi, a second-year biomedical science student told Wits Vuvuzela that he felt the event did not cater toward biomed students who are trying to get into the science industry. 

However, Ndlovu emphasizes the importance of using the event to brand yourself by speaking with the various companies and to get to know your options. 

Adding to Ndlovu’s point, GRP Officer, Bongi Ndlovu said the fair does not limit students by degree and that they must take advantage of all the opportunities provided to brand themselves because “networking is key.” 

When asked what students should do to get the most out of the fair, Sasha Riccardi, an Afrizan recruiter told Wits Vuvuzela, “Don’t be dismissive, always hear people out because you never know who holds the key to your next opportunity.” 

The fair also had a Best Company Award where students could vote for which firm they had found to be the most helpful and informative — and ABSA won the award. 

The GRP is planning three more career fairs this year that will cater to students in different fields. On May 3 and 4, for accounting students; July 21, for all degrees and on September 12 will be for students who are pursuing their postgraduate degrees.  

FEATURE IMAGE: First year Biomedical Students: Mikayla De Koker, Amel Du Preez, Sharon Manganya, Oratile Molawa, Nkateko Ntlhabyane, and Zamokuhle Nhlangothi stading and posing in front of Accenture’s stand, who were offering a multitude of careers from strategic management to consulting. Photo: Georgia Cartwright


REVIEW: The Old and Beautiful return to the stage 

A fantastic performance riddled with anecdotal but relatable scenes, tied together with beautiful music, making it a must watch for theatre lovers. 

Wits University School of Arts lecturer, Fiona Ramsay and pianist Tony Bentel perform at the Iyabuya iPOPArt festival to showcase their talents and successful careers with over 35 years in the South African entertainment industry. 

The talents of Ramsay and Bentel’s Old and the Beautiful, helped wrap up the festival as the final act on March 30 and 31, 2023, at the Red Roof Theatre in Milpark. The festival had a three month run from January 2023, with performances from a range of artists at various venues.  

Wits School of Arts lecturer, Fiona Ramsay and pianist Tony Bentel smiling and posing for the camera on stage with a spotlight lighting up their faces before their Old and Beautiful performance at the AFDA Red Roof Theatre in Milpark during the Iyabuya Festival on March 31, 2023.
Photo: Georgia Cartwright

The show opened with a spotlight centered on Ramsay surrounded by props of head statues bejeweled with fancy gems indicating wealth, with Bentel playing an upbeat tune. The pair then moved quickly into the next scene with jokes about how covid-19 gave people the ability to hide their identities because of the thousands of masks that were purchased, a joke received with loud, unmasked guffaws.  

Ramsay and Bentel put on a show filled with humorous anecdotes related to the covid-19 pandemic, unemployment, loadshedding, gender inequality, and the unavoidable fact of getting old. The dynamic duo made reference to the well-known works of Marianne Faithfull and singing “Maybe this time” in their reenactment of the Broadway show Cabaret

Each scene in the performance draws upon different issues people face in South Africa while adding a witty twist to create the ultimate form of escapism. The show begins with, “Who doesn’t want to be rich,” a song about struggles artists face when looking for work and the reality of unemployment in the arts industry. The stage props help set each scene with props of clown noses worn by Ramsay and Bentel to indicate that the real jokes are themselves for believing they could have successful careers in the arts but that their optimism, along with a little dope, helps them cope. 

While the show deals with dull, often depressing topics, it also manages to make light of these issues through a satirical lens. When asked for their thoughts by Wits Vuvuzela, one audience member called it, “depressingly humorous”. Ramsay brings unique characters to life, such as Denise from an old age home in Welkom, who is staring “death” in the face while reliving her memories. The soundtrack to this is a mix of dramatic and calm classical music played by Bentel, which perfectly scores the emotional scenes as they unfold.  

The stage is set with props and rugs from Bentel’s lounge, the stage of the pair’s first performance together eight years ago.  Ramsay describes their act as a “satirical look on the madness of life,” and says that “if you don’t laugh, you get too stiff and serious but if you laugh, you are able to escape a little and move forward.” 

The lighting changes for each scene and seems to reflect the emotions felt in every act – blue for the sadness and loneliness felt when getting old and red for the frustration brought on by loadshedding and potholes. Each scene tells a story of its own while adding the razzle dazzle qualities associated with theatre, a truly spectacular experience.  

When asking the event organiser, Hayleigh Evans said the show exceeded her expectations, and going forward she hopes, “[Having] a live and consistent, permanent program where performers can thrive”, will bring people together.  

Ramsay and Bentel are currently both working on projects of their own but plan on having many more magical performances together in the future. 

FEATURED IMAGE: Wits School of Arts lecturer Fiona Ramsay singing during her performance of the Old and Beautiful at AFDA’s Red Roof Theatre in Milpark during the Iyabuya Festival on March 31. Photo: Georgia Cartwright


#FNBVarsityCup: Wits advances, relegates Tuks

Defending champions FNB UP-Tuks will play in the Varsity Shield next season after their Round 6 defeat by FNB Wits.  

FNB Wits secured a historic win over the University of Pretoria (UP-Tuks) in the Varsity Cup on Monday, March 27, with a 77th minute try and conversion, for a score of 33-21.  

Wits had an impeccable start with flyhalf Setshaba Mokoena scoring a try in the sixth minute and shortly thereafter, Wian De Lange and Lindo Ncusane scoring two more tries with successful conversions. UP-Tuks fought back with wing Bayanda Ngubane scoring a try with a conversion, however, Wits maintained their 19-7 lead by the end of the first half.  

Tuks gained ground in the second half with eighth-man Divan Venter and centre Zander Reynders scoring point-of-origin tries in the final quarter, earning the Pretoria team bonus points for a total of 21. However, Wits managed to keep up the pressure with lock Hendrick Gouws scoring a try and prop Banele Mthenjane winning the game for the Witsies, relegating the defending champions to play in the Varsity Shield next season.   

Afterwards, Wits player, Dameon Venter, told Wits Vuvuzela that, “We prepared really well and understood that if we just stuck to our plan the result would [yield] itself.” He added that their strategy for the rest of the season involved, “taking each challenge week by week [as we] have set clear goals to go all the way and make history”. 

Supporters of the Braamfontein team came out in their numbers to cheer the home side. After the game, Jack Du Toit, a third-year civil engineering student said, “It is my first time watching a live game and it is an awesome experience to see good vibes and students having fun because [that] is what Varsity Cup is all about, bringing people together.”  

Tuks third-year psychology student Pepi Mushayabasa was disappointed at the result, saying, “[Tuks] had the potential to do better if there were more Tuks supporters [because] the vibe isn’t there for them.”   

Wits will play the FNB NWU Eagles in Round 7 at the Wits Stadium, on April 3, 2023.  

UP-Tuks player, Johannes Mare and Witsie, George Devenish reach for the ball during a lineout in their Round 6 game in the
Varsity Cup on March 27, 2023 at the Wits Rugby Stadium. Photo: Georgia Cartwright

FEATURED IMAGE: FNB Wits Rugby players face off in a scrum against UP-Tuks during a Varsity Cup Round 6 match on March 27, 2023 at the Wits Rugby Stadium. Photo: Georgia Cartwright