Three weeks of protest…and now a historic general assembly at Wits


Students gather around the steps of the Great Hall to listen to former SRC president Mcebo Dlamini. Photo: Laura Pisanello

Students gather around the steps of the Great Hall to listen to former SRC president Mcebo Dlamini.                                                                                                       Photo: Laura Pisanello

After three weeks of protest and shutdown, Wits University will hold a general assembly on Friday, one of only a few in the university’s history.


As told to : I am completely against #FeesMustFall protests

A Wits student expresses her lack of support for the #FeesMustFall protests.

The amount of negativity and hate that I have for this protest is beyond belief. Before I get accused of having “white privilege” I’d love to state that I fully pay for my own university fees, without help from my parents, a bursary or loan. I work very hard doing promotional jobs, hostessing and waitressing so it is possible to pay for school fees no excuses. It just takes hard work.

Wits likes to pretend everything is okay and insists class will carry on as normal. They encourage us to come to class, yet when you try to leave the university you get attacked. My car is full of hand prints from where students slapped and hit my car and tried to push it. Beer was poured onto my car and because I wanted to leave the premises I was accused of “intimidating” the protesters. Meanwhile police and security watched this happen and did nothing about it.

Interviews with students show the protesters saying that they are non-violent yet evidence shows otherwise. Me needing to ditch my car and sneak out is not something I, nor anyone else, should be going through.

Protesters are being unreasonable and unrealistic. Firstly, inflation is an unavoidable reality. Secondly, free tertiary education won’t happen overnight and I believe it is really wishful thinking. I think they should rather focus on implementing free primary and high school education like many countries do (since basic education is a right whereas university is not a necessity).

I don’t know why they are striving for free tertiary education when primary and secondary education isn’t free yet. Surely if universities become free then the standard requirements for being accepted will be raised even higher? Then there will be protests about how poverty stricken applicants are being excluded because their basic education was just that – basic.

The problems with the protests range from destruction of property, the endangerment, intimidation and attacks on other students and police doing nothing (which I don’t entirely blame them for as the media portrays them as the villains and the protesters as the victims). Wits administration is also sloppy at letting us know what is going on.

I hate to say this but this is really an attitude of entitlement, I have had a job since I was 15 and a half years old. I took a gap year after matric and saved money because my parents couldn’t afford to pay for my university fees.. Free tertiary education is a pipe dream that takes steps and years to arrange, especially in a country like South Africa with so many political, economic and racial problems. This protest infringes on people’s rights, security and freedom of movement.

People work hard to pay for university whether it’s a student or a parent and no student should be harmed and attacked. These protesters need to get a grip and realise they just need to work hard, nothing in life comes for free. I don’t know what makes them think they’re so special that they deserve to study at a top ranking university in exchange for destroying its property and harming other students and staff.


Wits Sex Actually Festival marks its ninth year

WITS Drama for Life will hold their ninth annual Sex Actually festival in order to promote discussions about sexuality, culture and sexual health among students.

The festival will feature a variety of performances daily that will explore different aspects such as the relationship between black madams and black employees as well as a series of short plays that explore topics of love, humour and grief.

SexSports! will be held on the library lawns on Friday afternoon and will engage students during lunchtime. SexSports! aims at encouraging Witsies to discuss important issues in a fun and interactive way.

Zanele Madiba, the media officer for Drama for life, told Wits Vuvuzela that holding the festival each year plays an important role at Wits.

“It’s one of the few platforms available to discuss difficult issues which are considered a taboo in our African society,” she says.

The entire festival is designed to encourage interaction with students to allow for discussion of difficult issues such as sexuality, HIV and sexual health. Madiba says that the festival has helped create discussions about a variety of topics.

“We also have panel discussions with the theatre-makers and invited guests who are experts in the fields of sexuality, culture and sexual health,” Madiba says.

She highlights the importance of the Sex Talks series of the programme which is done with doctors from Wits Health Sciences and offers useful, practical information for students.

A lot of work is put into the festival from a call for productions, processing the applications and ensuring that all performances fit in with the theme of the festival. Fundraising is an important factor in their preparation as they do not have a consistent funder.

The Sex Actually festival will run from September 7-10 at the Wits Theatre Complex. The full festival programme is available online and tickets will be available at Wits Box Office.

Wits student suspended for attempted arson

A Wits student has been suspended in connection with the attempted arson of the Wits Law Library earlier this year.  Two former students have also been issued with cease and desist notices in order to prvent them from accessing the campus.

This development follows months of investigation by the university together with the South African Police Services (SAPS).

In a statement issued a short while ago, the university said the actions were taken against three students “who we believe were intent on burning down the Wits Law Library earlier this year”. The university did not name any of the students involved. Additionally, the statement read, “in the interests of protecting our staff and students and based on the evidence at hand, we were left with no option but to suspend the student and to bar the two former students believed to be involved in this criminal act. It would be irresponsible for us to do otherwise.”

At the end of May this year two students were caught climbing through a window in the law library carrying gas canisters. Security was alerted and the gas cannisters were removed although no suspects were identified as they were reported to be wearing balaclavas at the time.

The university opened a case of arson with the Hillbrow Police Station and as a result of the incident, security on campus was increased at key areas.

The 2016 elections so far

The start to the 2016 municipal elections has been smooth sailing for both the IEC and voters around the country, aside from a few small challenges.

Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) officials have reported a few cases of voting stations not being opened on time, mainly because incorrect ballots being delivered and bad weather conditions. Chief Electoral Officer, Mosotho Moepya, however, said that despite the challenges, all voters would be provided with the correct ballots.

There have been no reported incidents of violence. Voting stations in the troubled Limpopo region of Vuwani had been blocked off by members of the community, however, IEC officials set up a makeshift voting station instead. Other member of the community are holding soccer tournaments as an alternative form of protest.

Political leaders have shown up at their respective voting stations around the country to make their mark. President Jacob Zuma, former president Thabo Mbeki, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane, former deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe and Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema, all voted earlier today, while posing for photographs and in Thabo Mbeki’s case – holding impromptu press conferences.

The Department of Home Affairs has also been open since 7am to facilitate collection of ID documents, and to issue temporary IDs.



5 ANC promises to voters

The ANC manifesto outlines the party’s achievements and goals for the next five years. It places an emphasis on strengthening communities and providing a better standard of living for all South Africans.

Basic services:

These include 90% of households with access to piped water, 86% of households with access to electricity and 79.5% of households with access to basic sanitation. However, the manifesto is not specific on what “increased access” means.  The manifesto also states that the ANC has provided “3.7 million subsidised housing opportunities”.  There are no figures regarding the ANC’s goals for the next five years, only that it will “build on the achievements made in the delivery of basic services”.

Job creation:

Job creation has been a key point for the ANC and opposition parties. The ANC manifesto emphasises the success of the Expanded Public Works Programme which created five million “job opportunities” for poor and unemployed people between 2004 and 2014. The plan is to provide an additional six million jobs by the year 2019. Now the party promises to continue providing work opportunities by strengthening local economic development and providing a variety of programmes to communities that will focus on sport and recreational facilities, science and technologies and productive and creative skills.


Education has become a central focus for the whole country following student protests demanding access to free tertiary education. However, the manifesto does not outline the ANC’s achievements with regards to education (basic or tertiary) but merely mentions that it has “broadened access to adequate education and training”. The manifesto does note the importance of working together to place an emphasis on education in local communities and to “accelerate the development and support of early childhood development facilities”.

Health care:

The manifesto states that, “The ANC government has expanded access to primary healthcare services to more people.” However, it does not mention how this has been achieved or how many people constitute “more people”.  It lays out plans to improve access to health care by better equipping and maintaining clinics, strengthening programmes to promote healthy lifestyles, improving programmes to fight tuberculosis and expanding the treatment programme of HIV and Aids.

Crime and corruption:

The ANC says 234 government officials have been convicted for corruption. However, the manifesto is silent on what has been done to reduce crime. The ANC will strengthen community safety forums and the enforcement of municipality by-laws, and work with all sectors to reduce crimes against women and children and create massive campaigns against drug abuse.  The ANC will also implement more programmes to effectively deal with fraud and corruption and to ensuring there are consequences for illegal decisions made by municipal councils.