Pap Con: Fake bags of cocaine used by the conman to get students to hand over their cellphones. Photo: Provided
A MAN claiming to be a Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) student was arrested on main campus Tuesday, carrying enough dagga to fill a medium-sized pillow-case.
The man was arrested in an undercover sting operation by Campus Control officers in plain clothes.
A second man, believed to be a former Wits student, was arrested on Wednesday, this time holding about 142 grams of dagga.
Both men have been handed over to Hillbrow police. [pullquote align=”right”]They watched as the alleged conman approached a first, second and then a third victim, attempting to convince them to hand over their cellphones [/pullquote]
The recent crackdown on drug-related crimes and other offences comes after Campus Control adopted a “zero-tolerance” approach to security, incorporating undercover operations and analysis of crime-trends data to combat crime.
Campus Control security liaison manager Lucky Khumela said it was the third time the second man had been arrested on campus for selling dagga, his most recent arrest being in October 2013.
“We arrested him last year, in October around the 13th of the month. He says they (Hillbrow Police) just released him without telling him why,” Khumela said. He would not say where on campus the men were arrested, for fear of jeopardising on-going operations.
Hillbrow police said the man would appear in the Hillbrow Magistrate’s court on Friday on the charge of dagga possession.
Khumela, recently hired as liaison officer for the university’s security program, said Campus Control would be following the police and courts on the outcomes of these cases.
“The courts must come to their senses, this is a matter of the future of our students,” he said.
In another development, undercover Campus Control officers arrested a man attempting to use a scam similar to that of the ‘Cocaine Conman’, reported in last week’s Wits Vuvuzela.
Wits Vuvuzela reported last week about a ‘cocaine con’ where a man would ask unsuspecting students to use their cellphones. He would then tell the students he was a drug dealer and needed to borrow their cellphones for a drug transaction.
The Cocaine Conman would then offer a bag of “cocaine” as security. The white powder would turn out to be flour or even mealie-meal.
On Tuesday, Campus Control officers spotted a man, fitting a different description than the one reported on by Wits Vuvuzela, attempting to con students out of their cellphones.
They watched as the alleged conman approached a first, second and then a third victim, attempting to convince them to hand over their cellphones but was rebuffed each time.
Finally, they watched as he approached a fourth student who fell for the scheme. Campus Control then swooped in and apprehended the man. He was handed over to Hillbrow SAPS and charged with theft.
Khumela revealed to the Wits Vuvuzela that the man is also believed to be operating on University of Johannesburg campuses.
WEED WATCH: Dagga seized by Campus Control from suspected dealers. Photo: Provided
[pullquote]So there was the first of those vile truths, settling into a corner of reality like a spinning top in thick sand: even a spiritual voyage attracts hitchhikers, adorable moochers [/pullquote]So there was the first of those vile truths, settling into a corner of reality like a spinning top in thick sand: even a spiritual voyage attracts hitchhikers, adorable moochers unconcerned with the immensity – or dangers – of what is about to go down.[/pullquote]A confession: I am newly initiated into this strange world.
Last month on a cloudy Friday evening, following an escape into the tedium of late-night Newtown, a sudden confluence of truths washed over me, nearly sending me over the edge. Over the edge into full-blown delirium, the kind of delirium perhaps last felt at a previous, primordial birthing.
It was useless searching the face of the short man at the door, wielding a clipboard of all things, for any sort of sign that he understood my situation.
He might as well have been an eyeless mute. The man’s sole interest was confirming whether or not the R50 admission he was kindly demanding would materialise from my pockets (actually R100 if you count the disinterest shown in this transaction by the “date” beside me).
So there was the first of those vile truths, settling into a corner of reality like a spinning top in thick sand: even a spiritual voyage attracts hitchhikers, adorable moochers unconcerned with the immensity – or dangers – of what is about to go down.[pullquote align=”right”]Had I entered the pitch black, virtual space of improvised identity? Dizzy with panic, I shuffled desperately to the bar hoping a cold beer would wash away the bile taste of nausea in my mouth[/pullquote][
The hapless doorman too was obviously unaware of the supernatural activity in the air that night, the midwives of which were getting busy on the stage behind him. Money received, that soulless beast formally swatted away all inquiries with a gurgling sound from his face area.
Inside the aptly named Nikki’s Oasis a tall man dressed in all black held up a gleaming trumpet to the light and exhaled a bewitching sound through it. This made me feel light-headed and nervy, suddenly over aware of the fleeting nature of wonder.
Had I entered the pitch black, virtual space of improvised identity? Dizzy with panic, I shuffled desperately to the bar hoping a cold beer would wash away the bile taste of nausea in my mouth. Feya Faku blew one last note. Then Andile Yenana threw himself into a piano-solo that only quickened my existential breakdown.
“Once, he heard the Feya Faku Quintet play live”, I thought to myself, “that would do nicely as epitaph on my cracked headstone.” I was certain a clean break had been made with a dreary past devoid of joy and wonder. I was soaked in these revelations, and quickly damned-up these miracle waters within myself by refusing to speak throughout the quintet’s set.
But then I tried to explain the experience. First, to that half-dead doorman of earlier. He responded only in cheerless grunts.
Then to my hitch-hiking companion, who was only interested in explaining herself, but failing like I knew I never would.
My experience of the city at that exact moment and the feeling of the music were, and still are, untranslatable.
Charlie Parker biographer Ian Penman describes speaking about the effect of music via the “algebraic lingo of jazz theory about as clarifying as a book of algorithms baked in mud”. It’s too late to sign up for a music degree anyway.
No Offense: Knockando Men’s Hall Communications Officer Gavin Pasha says his res is all about brotherhood, not sexual objectification of first-year women.
Photo: Mfuneko Toyana
KNOCKANDO has zero tolerance for the sexual objectification of women, especially senior Witsies pursuing first-year students, a spokesperson for the residence said.
Knockando spokesperson Gavin Pasha, 4th year BSc, told Wits Vuvuzela that Knockando made it a point to teach their first-year residents to respect women.
“You come here as a first-year and you are vulnerable, that’s why we have the rule that seniors aren’t allowed to talk to the first-year girls,” Pasha said.
He fended off suggestions that some of their induction activities for new students and the songs
sung by Knockando boys were overly sexual. One song is called “Touch, grab and hold” and some claim it refers to groping women.
But Pasha insisted that [pullquote]”Touch, grab, and hold” referred to the act of holding a beer bottle, rather than engaging in any sexual act.[/pullquote]
“It was analysed incorrectly,” he said, explaining it was the name of a party they held last year.”
Pasha also said that Knockando did not subject new students to any forms of harsh initiation.
“We have activities that improve the brotherhood and connection between first-years and seniors. We build the brotherhood so in the end you’ll be able to chow course,” Pasha said.
New Guard: Campus Control‘s new liaision manager, Lucky Khumela, advises first years to be aware of crime on campus.
Photo: Mfuneko Toyana
What used to be a conference room inside Campus Control headquarters, Wits’s new security liaison manager, Lucky Khumela, sits behind his desk in the small room, smiling calmly, stroking the shiny, striped tie he is wearing.
“Police officers working in the suburbs love their jobs, more than those working in the township,” Khumela said.
“The magic behind that is very simple: appreciation. In the township they get ridiculed and taunted, here in the suburbs you find people who stop to say ‘thanks officer for doing your job’.”
However, ridicule and taunts are not limited to the townships with Wits security guards being the subject of abuse from students and their fellow staff members.
“Personally, I’ve seen how the security guards get ridiculed at the main gate by the so-called students and employees of Wits University. They get shouted at with things like: ‘It’s your job, you are not educated, you need to open the gate for me’,” he said.
Khumela is not fond of bureaucracy. He is quite the opposite, quoting philosopher Edmund Burke and revealing plans to center his approach to sexual violence on the poem “I Got Flowers Today” about a woman who is abused and ultimately killed by her partner.
[pullquote]getting Campus Control officers to “buy into the idea of being an officer that serves his community” [/pullquote]Wits is no stranger to the prescriptive, arms-length approach to an elusive security problem, one that has borne little enthusiasm from the student body. Khumela’s appointment, and the creation of post of liaison manager, represents a welcome change in approach.
“I want to sensitize the security workforce to understand their responsibility to the community and the university,” Khumela said
He pauses to lean back slightly in his chair, as if tossing around the significance of this statement, then adds:
“The two sides need to come together and understand each other’s responsibilities,” Khumela said.
He adds that he is busy assessing what type of training Campus Control officers may need to make this happen.
Beyond training, Khumela reckons it is mutual appreciation, and getting Campus Control officers to “buy into the idea of being an officer that serves his community” that will make the difference in crime prevention.
The qualified domestic violence facilitator says he is also aware of the need for Campus Control to embrace social media to improve communication with students. To this end, Witsies can now tweet @WitsSecurity to contact Campus Control.
‘Cocaine’ conman back on campus, February 14, 2014
Big Plans for Campus Control, April 12, 2013
[pullquote]”Some of these people have political ambitions to lead ANC provincial structures, so they want to be seen to be shutting down the ANC’s opponents,” Nhlapo said.[/pullquote]
APPLICATION DENIED: Vuyani Pambo, chairperson of Wits EFF, was upset by the SRC overplaying their hand. Photo: Nomatter Ndebele
ACCUSATIONS that the SRC is abusing its powers against political opponents have resulted in a review by the vice chancellor’s office.
The SRC, which is led by the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA), is responsible for officially recognizing Wits clubs and societies, including political organizations.
Two political organizations, Project W and Wits Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), have been refused recognition.
Both organizations have appealed their rejections and accuse the PYA of playing dirty politics.
Dean of Students Pamela Dube confirmed the SRC would hear the appeal and the vice-chancellor’s office “is looking into reviewing the process by which [clubs and societies] are approved.”
SRC secretary Michlene Mongae declined to comment to Wits Vuvuzela on the accusations.
Jamie Mighti, a Project W SRC member, said the PYA did not follow correct procedure during the application process.
“The SRC must give applicants a model constitution to fill it, but they didn’t do that,” said Mighti. He said Project W’s constitution was later rejected by the SRC because it was not in line with the model.
According to Mighti, new clubs and societies must appear at an SRC general meeting as a final step before being officially recognized or rejected.
But he said this was not done for new clubs.[pullquote]”Some of these people have political ambitions to lead ANC provincial structures, so they want to be seen to be shutting down the ANC’s opponents,” Nhlapo said.[/pullquote]
Mighti accused SRC president Shafee Verachia and Club and Society portfolio holder Sarah Mokwebo of making the decision to reject new clubs without consultations.
The SRC is made up of eight PYA members and six Project W members.
Project W accused the PYA members of the SRC of “banning” them to stop it from interacting with students during O-week.
Chairperson of Wits EFF, Vuyani Pambo, said their organisation applied two days before the application closing date but they did not even appear on the list of clubs and societies who had applied.
“It was as if we never applied,” Pambo said.
He said that when Wits EFF inquired about why they were not on the list, they were given contradictory explanations.
SRC internal vice president internal Paul Ndiweni said they applied late while Mokwebo said they had not applied at all.
Former SRC vice president Tokelo Nhlapo, who defected from the PYA to Wits EFF last year, also agreed that proper procedure had not been followed.
“The SRC is simply a ceremonial structure. It does not follow constitutional obligations,” he said.
“Some of these people have political ambitions to lead ANC provincial structures, so they want to be seen to be shutting down the ANC’s opponents,” Nhlapo said.
The PYA is an alliance between the ANC Youth League, Muslim Students Association and South African Students Congress.
PYA-EFF spat leaves disabled students out in the cold, February 7, 2014
SRC to divvy up the spoils, September 13, 2013
NEW HEIGHTS: Reitumetse Motsweneng hopes to go into skills development
after completing her degree. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
FIRST-year Economic Sciences student Ronewa Aluwani Bengani says he feels let down by the Dj S’bu education fund, set up to help needy students gain access to tertiary institutions.
Bengani said the Sbusiso Leope Education Fund (SLEF) promised him a full scholarship for being a top achiever when the popular media personality visited his high school, Graceland Education Centre, early last year.
“Dj S’bu came and said the top three students would get a bursary,” said Bengani, who scored three distinctions, including one for Maths, in his Matric finals. Bengani said he not been contacted by the fund since.
Wits Vuvuzela was unable to get comment from SLEF after a week of phone calls to both its communications manager, Itumeleng Sekhu, as well as project manager of the fund Themba Thebe.
When Wits Vuvuzela telephoned Bengani’s high school, a Mbuso Cele, who introduced himself as teacher liaison at Graceland Education Centre, said Dj S’bu’s SLEF did not guarantee scholarships.
“Last year they were meant to give us four scholarships (for 2014 students) but that hasn’t happened. We phoned them last week and they said they are still in the process,” Cele said.
A former learner at the same school and recipient of the “SLEF scholarship”, Reitumestse Motsweneng, now in her second year of a BAccSci, told a different story from Bengani’s of her experiences with SLEF fund.
“SLEF only distributes the funds, it doesn’t come from his (Dj S’bu) pocket. I am with KPMG now. They introduced me to KPMG,” Motsweneng said, emphasising the fund’s intermediary role.
The 19-year-old from Phumula in the East Rand passed her matric with distinctions in Accounting, Economics and Life Orientation, as well scoring a “B” for Maths and Business.
During her mid-year exams in 2012, Motsweneng’s mother passed away, leaving only her father to fend for her and her younger brother, without enough money to fund her “dream” to go to Wits. The teachers at her high school volunteered to raise the R10 000 needed to pay the registration after Motsweneng received her confirmation letter from Wits. But it was after Cele learnt of her predicament that her place as a Witsie was secured.
“Bab’ Cele heard that Dj Sbu was around, so he went to Thembisa High where S’bu was speaking and told him my story… that’s how S’bu intervened and introduced me to KPMG,” Motsweneng said.
Her KPMG bursary pays for her tuition as well as accommodation near the university, the latter being something Motsweneng took a while to warm up to.
“When I moved into res it was the saddest day of my life. They don’t allow males into the res so my dad had to stay outside.
My roommate’s mother was in the room fixing it, putting in curtains, and really making it a home.”
Motsweneng said that scene in her first home away from home made her realise the massive gap her mother’s death had left in her life.
Keziah Gabriel is definitely no bile-spewing drill sergeant, nor is she a steroid-chocked personal trainer who thinks only in muscle to fat ratios.
The closest the 4th year MBBCH student got to launching a volley of abusive language intended to motivate her whacked out charges, at the tail-end of first session of Booty Camp, was: “Are you tired? Don’t push yourself too hard,” coupled with a big smile and a light puff on her whistle.
The trained lifeguard is just really passionate about the more physical aspects of life.
The Amanzimtoti-born self-confessed “fitness freak” said she got the idea to start “Booty Camp”, group exercise initiative, (held at the WEC sports fields on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays), after noticing girls from the Reith Hall residence exercising by themselves but not really “doing it right”.
“I do most of this stuff myself; I’m always researching new work outs. I realised that most of these girls were fit at school where there was organised sport, but it becomes difficult to fit a fitness plan into your university schedule,” Gabriel said.
Gabriel said it was easy as a medicine student to spend the little free time you had away from your books locked-up in your room watching series. Booty Camp, she said, was all about giving girls who wanted to get fit an opportunity to do it side by side with fellow classmates in an atmosphere of friendship.
She insisted that what she was offering was the right way to get fit
Visit Booty Camp’s Facebook page here.
The Bidvest Wits team, despite going down 2-1 to Orlando Pirates the previous night, were happy to mix with their supporters on Wednesday during O-week. The team gladly posed for pictures, signed autographs, and chatted with students, while smitten females fans ogled their favourite players as the gents looked on in jealous admiration.
“Come Duze”: Mbali Malinga portrays the sexual violence inflicted on a young girl by a township thug in the play Complexion showing at the Wits Nunnery till this Friday. Photo: Provided
Nothing in Mbali Malinga’s one woman show was over-the-top, despite obvious parallels that could be drawn between this Bildungsroman gone wrong and the infamous television show Yizo Yizo.
The stage of the Wits Nunnery where Complexion played this Monday was completely bare, except for assorted pairs of shoes –stiletto heels, pumps and sneakers – hanging from the low ceiling.
No music. No props. Basic lighting.
But unlike Yizo Yizo, this production swaps gratuity for subtlety to achieve a similarly chilling effect: of the starkness and troubles of growing up poor in South Africa’s townships.
One woman, 15 characters
At the end of play, which lasted a swift half hour, you understood why nothing but Malinga and the raucous rabble of characters she brought with her could fit on to the stage, and only just.
“I played 15 characters. A lot of my personal experiences went into it, as well as a lot of research. I needed to understand how these characters are,” Malinga explained after the show, which she developed and wrote herself, over a seven month period. Complexion evolved from a six minute performance Malinga prepared for her 4th year exams.
[pullquote align=”right”]“This is the story of a girl who is made by the home she comes from.”[/pullquote]
Subtitled “How do black girls paint the sky red?”, the play tells the simple story of a black girl growing up in the township. Malinga plays observer and subject, the latter germinating from infancy to puberty and encountering the almost typical hardships and joys of a black girl in the township.
Almost typical, but not quite. Rather than dwell on those familiar stereotypes of township life, which she portrays with bewitching verisimilitude to the small crowds’ pleasure, Malinga shifts quickly between successive growth phases of womanhood, and consequently from one stereotype to the next, with a succinctness and intensity that denies her audience the luxury of forming simple, emotional reactions to what they are seeing..
More than the wrongs of eKasi
The result is a sharp, darkly collage of provoking vignettes that achieve what Malinga confessed she could not in the six-minute version of the play.
“At first, I was just trying to get that eKasi life out … it was an angry piece that just said this is wrong, this is wrong!”
But after grappling with the physical aspects of the play with movement guru Craig Morris, and taking advice from the unexpectedly “very honest, tough crowd” at the Hillbrow Children’s Theatre, Malinga was able to carve out a simple, powerful story she is proud of.
“This is the story of a girl who is made by the home she comes from.”
Super achievers: Wits vice-Chancellor Professor Adam Habib (seated left), Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga (seated right) along with the Dean of Students Dr Pamela Dube, (standing left) with some of the students who received the university’s Equality Scholarship. Photo: Mfuneko Toyana
Earlier today Wits University and the Ministry of Basic of Education (DBE) introduced six of the ten matriculants who were awarded the university’s freshly minted Equality Scholarship ahead of the academic year which commences next week.
The learners were chosen from quintiles 1 and 2 schools, classified as “no-fee schools and situated in the most disadvantaged communities in the country”.
Vice-Chancellor (VC) Professor Adam Habib and Minister Angie Motshekga sat side by side in front of the media and the student themselves in the plush Council Chambers in Senate House. They both spoke enthusiastically of the bright futures that these students represented.
“This is the basis of addressing inequality,” Habib enjoined, as he explained the reasoning behind the formation of the scholarship, which aims to bankroll, in its entirety, the tertiary education of talented learners from poor and marginalised communities.
[pullquote align=”right”]”An anonymous R10 million donation was central in getting the scholarship off the ground”[/pullquote]
Habib, however, was quick to emphasise that it was “academic excellence” that formed the basis on which these students were chosen. “We recognise circumstances but you have to recognise merit,” Habib said.
The scholarship will be renewed annually provided the students continue to maintain impressive results.
Minister Motshekga described the scholarships as a way to catalyse “social migration from marginalised communities into high levels of the economy”.
Each student was awarded close to R100 000 per annum, dependent on their academic performance.
Habib revealed that an anonymous R10 million donation was central in getting the scholarship off the ground.
Conceding that even R100 000 was only just enough to cover each students tuition, accommodation and a small number of “incidentals”, and not other costs such as supporting extended families back in the students underprivileged communities, the VC bemoaned the difficulty caused by the fact that the “our inflation of higher education runs ahead of normal inflation”.
He described this as a “big challenge” which in part would have to be addressed through social support structures such as grants.
“We can’t have their education compromised,” Habib stressed, pointing out that some students qualified for other bursaries which could be used to cover additional costs.
Even R100 000 is not enough
The story of one of the scholarship recipients, Thembinkosi Qwabe from Osizweni in Newcastle, KwaZulu Natal, partly illustrates how even a sum as generous R100 000 may not be enough.
Qwabe is one of five children, the first to go to university in his family after scoring 97 per cent in Physical Science and 96 per cent in Maths. He was raised by a single parent, his mother.
Going up: Top achiever Thembinkosi Qwabe will study Chemical Engineering after receiving an Equality Scholarship Photo: Mfuneko Toyana
He explained that she was on the verge of retiring from a job as a receptionist at an auto-repair store. His two elder brothers had finished matric but are unemployed. Qwabe’s two younger sisters are still in school.
He said he did not remember the exact moment he received the news of the scholarship, but he did recall that his family was very happy. His father, whom he had last seen in 2006, knew of his achievements but had not yet contacted Qwabe to congratulate him.
[pullquote align=”right”]“My only wish now is to pass and do well for my family.”[/pullquote]
Dressed immaculately in all red and still reeling, by his own confession, from the gravity of the moment and of being in this large city, Qwabe hinted that it was now up to him to be that “bridge” into a better life for his family.
“My only wish now is to pass and do well for my family,” he said.
By Shandukani Mulaudzi and Mfuneko Toyana in Qunu, Eastern Cape.
Granting sufficient access to the tens of thousands of people anxious to pay their last respects to Nelson Mandela was always going to be a difficult and delicate issue.
In the nine days leading up to momentous funeral on Sunday in the former president’s home town of Qunu, the various official events organised as swan songs to Madiba were criticised loudly and and bitterly across society.
In Johannesburg, some were disappointed that Mandela’s body was not brought to his memorial at FNB Stadium so they say goodbye “in person”. Three days of an open-casket viewing of South Africa’s biggest hero at Union Buildings in Pretoria was not enough. Thousands were turned away from the Pretoria landmark where a mausoleum as built for him to lie-in-state without getting close to the dappled lawns.
In Mthatha, as the day when the hero would disappear forever beneath the earth’s soil steadily approached, a sense of an opportunity to bid Madiba farewell began rapidly slipping away.
This grief-inflected panic was an almost celebratory despondency.
Sipho and the gift of t-shirts
Mandela’s flag-draped casket was scheduled to be flown into Mthatha Airport at exactly 12.45 on Saturday afternoon.
From there it was to be driven through the streets of Mthatha en-route to Qunu for burial the next day, making two stops along the way to allow mourners an opportunity to say goodbye.
Things did not go according to schedule.
From as early 9am people lined the sidewalks of the streets where the convoy would pass, forming a bustling guard of honour.
The longer people waited to see Madiba in the streets of Mthatha one last time, the more restless they became.
There were soon mad rushes for the white t-shirt adorned with Mandela’s smiling face, handed out for free if you could get your hands on them, triggering scuffles and near-stampedes as people fought each other. The thousands of white cotton treasures were just not enough.
“I came here to get a t-shirt,” Siphosonke Lukhozi beamed, rubbing his Mandela t-shirt with pride.
Beneath his arm he carried a cardboard poster of Mandela as he trudged home between train tracks to his Walter Sisulu University (WSU) off-campus dorm.
The fourth-year education student then quickly added that he was also there to see Mandela and say goodbye.
Lukhozi was one of few that did see the casket as it sped past crowds and failed to pause as promised.
As we snaked our way through New Payne “skomplaas”, a combination of township and rural area, Lukhozi went through his pecking order of heroes, with Mandela topping the list.
“People sit at home expecting government to bring work to them,” he said.
Lukhozi said for him education was the new struggle, a lesson he had taken from Mandela, as he led the way into the small room he shares with a fellow WSU student.
“Nothing’s for free mfwethu,” he said, the starch-white t-shirt baring Madiba’s saintly visage contrasting sharply with stained walls of the dorms passage.