Inheriting your heritance

I got my love handles, those pesky rounds bits around my stomach, from my mother and she got them from my grandmother. My Irish friend got his red hair from generations he has never known.

Have you ever wondered how you came to be the way you are? Why you inherited your grandmother’s big hips or didn’t inherit your grandfather’s blue eyes?
With September being Heritage Month, it seems appropriate that we know what our heritage is, where we come from but also how we received this heritage.

An amazing 99.9% of your DNA is identical to that of every other person in the world, yet not even identical twins are the same. That 0.1% makes you who you are, unique in every way.
All these questions about who you are can be answered through genetics. Every cell in our bodies, 50 to 75-trillion cells, contains about 20 000 different genes. Even though all the cells contain the same components they serve different functions.

Genes, the small components that make up DNA molecules, hold information to build cells and pass on genetic traits such as skin colour and health conditions. In a way, genes are like your body’s instruction manual.
A chromosome is made up of chromatin, a complex of DNA, RNA and proteins. The structure and organisation of chromosomes, which look like a fattened X, is achieved through coiling and an extensive packing ratio.
“If you had to take only one cell from your body and stretch the chromosomes out, it would be about two metres long,” says Jean Mollett from the school of molecular and cell biology at Wits.
Your genes are on the 46 chromosomes that are in an average human cell. We receive 23 chromosomes from our mother and 23 from our father.
There are about 8-million possible genetic combinations when chromosomes recombine during the process of meiosis, in which we get our genetic makeup from our parents’ DNA.

This means the resulting zygote, or combined chromosomes, is composed of 1 in 70-trillion possible combinations of chromosomes. That is how unique you are: a 1 in 70-trillion chance that you are who you are.
Genetic inheritance is determined by meiosis, which is when new cells are created with half of the chromosomes.
Mitosis is the process of basic cell division in which cells are multiplied.

“Through the process of mitosis, chromosomes duplicate and then divide one cell into two genetically identical cells,” Mollett says. (See figure 1.)
“Meiosis is necessary to halve the chromosome number, so that the numbers remain constant from one generation to the next.” (See figure 2.)

Meiosis occurs in females when they are in their mother’s womb while it occurs in males when they reach puberty. Meiosis takes place in the ovaries and testes. Mitosis, on the other hand, occurs every day as we make new cells.

SHHHHHHHHHH It’s a secret

THE Protection of InformationBill is temporarily shelved, ANC chief whip  Mathole Motshekga said on Tuesday.

Why should you care? It won’t affect you? This is where you are wrong.

The Bill, or ‘Secrecy Bill’ as it is known among critics, is a threat to media freedom and freedom of expression.

If you publish a state secret or just have classified information in your posession you could serve between 15 to 25 years in jail.

Pick n Pay chairman Gareth Ackerman told Business Report that the Bill was bad for business.

“It not only imposes restrictions on access to government information but… it refuses to recognise the ethical foundations of whistle-blowing, denies a public-interest defence to those who seek to publish wrongdoing, and entrusts the decision as to what should be defined as secret to unaccountable functionaries,” he said.

The Bill’s preamble says it recognises the importance of information to national security, acknowledges the harm of excessive secrecy, affirms the constitutional framework for regulation of access to information and desires and aims to promote the free flow of information and a transparent framework.

Gautrain comes closer

Photo: Amogelang Mbatha

THE Gautrain now has a temporary link for commuters to reach the Johannesburg CBD from Rosebank station.

The Rosebank to Johannesburg CBD temporary bus route was opened on August 29 and will act as a shuttle service until the last link of the Gautrain, between Rosebank and Park Station, is completed.

The white buses with the Gautrain logo will run every 12 minutes from 5.30- 8.30am and 4-7pm and every 20 minutes during off-peak hours from Monday to Friday.

The shuttle has 15 stops on its route and ends at Anderson and Simmonds Streets. The stop at the Civic Centre, Loveday Street, is the closest stop to Wits

Students who want to use this service must have a valid Gautrain Gold Card with a minimum of R20 on it as cash is not accepted on the buses. The Gold Card costs R10 but once you have a card there is no need to buy another one.

Fares for the buses are R6 if you use the Gautrain and a bus within an hour of one another and R20 if you do not use the train and bus within an hour.

The Gautrain link between Rosebank and Park Station is scheduled to open at the end of the year and the shuttle service from Rosebank is a temporary solution to enable more people to travel in style.

To see the entire Rosebank to JHB CBD route go online to and download the schedule as a PDF.

Viva Women’s Month, Viva!

WITH Women’s Month coming to an end, Vuvuzela spoke to two well-known alumni to get their views on Women’s Month and why Men’s Month is not in South Africa’s future.


Helen Zille, leader of the Democratic Alliance


Helen Zille

Helen Zille, leader of the DA, has made a name for herself in South African politics. She obtained a bachelor of arts degree at Wits and says Women’s Day (and month) allows South Africans to remember the women who made difficult choices in the past so we can have a more equal society today.

“It [Women’s Month] is also a time when we should recommit ourselves to opening up more opportunities for women and address the challenges women face in South Africa,” Zille says.

She says women should do whatever they feel like doing in Women’s Month and “not only what they have to do”.

“Women’s Day is significant but also slightly patronising. It enables society to compartmentalise women’s issues, rather than dealing with the underlying causes…

“So many men think it is their right to have multiple concurrent sexual partners…and young girls are often forced into their first sexual experience.

“Let’s deal with those core issues every day and not compartmentalise women’s issue into one day or month each year.”

Zille’s ultimate spoiling experience would be a meal with her family and she says there is no Men’s Day in South Africa because “every day is Men’s Day”.

Samantha Cowen, presenter on 94.7 Highveld Stereo's Breakfast Xpress team. Photo: courtesy

Samantha Cowen

Samantha Cowen’s voice is well-known in the wider Joburg area. She has hosted the Rude Awakening and the Breakfast Xpress on 94.7 Highveld Stereo for about 10 years now. She is also an ex-Witsie and says Women’s Month gives a chance for women to regroup and identify challenges.

“The maternal mortality in this country is still too high, as is HIV transmission among women and there’s a lost generation of women in their late 40s and early 50s who haven’t had the education and opportunities the rest of us have.”

She also thinks women should “not do anything” on Women’s Day or Month.

“I think women do too much on a daily basis. We’ve forgotten how important it is to have a nice cup of tea and a little sit down. And exhale.”

Her ultimate spoiling experience would be an afternoon where she has to do nothing at all and to “not think about anything at all”.

She does however think there should be a Men’s Day and Month. “I think men are in a very difficult position at the moment. Perhaps a day to reflect on the various talents we should be celebrating in the male gender would give both sexes a chance to acknowledge those.”

And why does she think there is no Men’s Day or Month in South Africa? “I have no idea! Find me a parliamentary suggestion box and I’ll pop it in!”

Discount deals or sneaky scams?

GROUP buying has exploded onto the online shopping scene in South Africa and people are unsure if the deals are legitimate or a scam.

The concept of group buying is simple: discounted deals on a variety of products are offered to subscribers on websites such as Groupon and UbuntuDeal. The aim is to attract more buyers and make them loyal to the product.

Group buying is a relatively new concept in South Africa and according to Group Buying South Africa, it is basically risk-free. Subscribers can get deals on food, clothing, accommodation and much more  for a fraction of the original price.

Group buying started late last year and, according to Group Buying SA, it is here to stay.

There are about 40 group-buying websites in South Africa that send emails to subscribers with the deals of the day. I f you do not like the deal, you do not buy it.

Jess Green, the brains behind UbuntuDeal, says group buying is massively popular.

“Only six months after starting UbuntuDeal in 2010, we joined Bid or Buy. According to our statistics every subscriber we have buys something,” said Green.

He also says that all group buying websites are not always what they seem.

“Groupon has had a lot of complaints and they often have quantity, not quality.”

Groupon is the most visited site in South Africa, with the largest base of subscribers. According to HelloPeter, a website that breaks down the nature of complaints, 10% of all Groupon complaints are billing and accounts, 16% for bad feedback and 12% for breach of contract.

“We [UbuntuDeal] pick and choose which companies we want and we are broadening our sales force into the big cities of South Africa,” Green said.

However, it does not seem like the problem lies with quality. Witsies say they are unfamiliar with these websites.

Tamlyn Crawford and Brierley Green, both 2nd year BA students, have never heard of group buying before. They said they would use the websites if they knew more about them.

“Ja, I’m sure I would use it if I was more exposed to it,” said Crawford. Green added, “If there were really good deals on clothes I would use it.”

Marcel Kutumela a 2nd year social work student, said: “It’s a good idea if it is legit, but I’ve heard stories where people have lost money from false deals.

“I wouldn’t use it because they require your personal and bank details and it is just too risky.”

Whether or not group buying is here to stay is up to the consumers. For more information visit

Wits Safety goes up a notch

A FEW new additions to campus will make it a safer place for Witsies according to the occupational health and safety office.

The green-and-white emergency assembly point signs can be seen near the Library Lawns and close to the Genmin laboratories on West Campus.

Madeleine Swart, an occupational health and safety (OHS) officer at Wits, says “the Occupational and Safety Act 85 of 1993 states that it is a legal requirement to have assembly points outside buildings”.

The emergency assembly signs were put up after it was pointed out by the Johannesburg fire department that these were lacking at Wits.

“It was a decision taken by the Property and Infrastructure Management Division (PIMD) OHS Office and the Engineering Department Safety Committee,” said Swart about why the signs were only put up recently.

Swart says people will gather at the assembly points during an emergency evacuation. Once  people are at these points, fire marshals for the specific building will check on a register that everyone has evacuated the building.

“The fire department will then know who is missing and where to search for the unaccounted-for persons,” said Swart.

“[The placement] is to minimise the risk of injuries to those people who have evacuated the building.

“One would not place an assembly point next to a 10-storey building that might be burning,” Swart said.

According to Swart, there are already fire drills and training for fire marshals taking place and students are informed of emergency evacuation protocol by induction programmes and during risk assessments.


Herbie with a twist- the coolest bug on campus

ON the road next to the South West Engineering building, a small car is getting curious glances and causing people to stop in their tracks.

The Volkswagen Beetle which has been converted into a limousine is the property of the ya-Nakamhelas.

Elanza ya-Nakamhela is programme director of the International Human Rights Exchange Programme in the school of social sciences at Wits, but it is her husband Udi ya-Nakamhela, a freelance journalist, to whom this cool car belongs.

The VW limo is a 1976 model which makes it 35 years old and Udi says it doesn’t have a name, yet.

“I’ve always wanted a Beetle, since I was 16 years old,” says Udi. “I saw a picture of this specific Beetle in a magazine.”

The limo belonged to a company in Randburg that restored Beetles.

“I was bugging the owner to sell it to me and when the company closed down he called me up and asked me if I wanted to buy it,” Udi says.

Beetles have always been the car for Udi. “I have a lime green Beetle convertible at home and this is the fifth Beetle I’ve owned.”

However, this Beetle is not just all looks and no spunk. “It goes up to 140km on the freeway with five people in the car,” Udi says.

“Obviously this isn’t a good thing to do, but I look after the machine very well.”

Udi has had some good and bad memories in his Beetle but the worst one was when he was driving a wedding party to their venue.

“I had the bride, the bridesmaids and the pastor in the car and when we turned onto the estate where the wedding was taking place, another car drove into us. I kept thinking the bride or the pastor could have been seriously injured and this is the memory that stands out the most.

“The best memory I haven’t had yet,” he jokes.

His wife Elanza was not too happy when he first bought the Beetle according to Udi but she now drives it to Wits while her car is in for repairs.

“I originally bought the Beetle to be a weekend car but now we drive it daily,” says Udi.

“Many people have told me to make it into a business for matric farewells and weddings but I bought the car for myself. It’s my toy and my baby.”

THROUGH THE ROOF: Udi ya-Nakamhel peeking through his sun-roof


Witsies dancing to their own tune

Linda Dlamini, Ennelda Ngobeni, Lauren Carey Naegeli and Daniel Fynes-Clinton at the Intervarsity. Photo: Courtesy Sithembile Mabaso.

THE Dance@Wits Latin and ballroom team twirled and twisted all the way down to Stellenbosch for the annual Intervarsity competition that took place from August 5-8.

Ballroom and Latin societies from six universities came together at the event to show what they were made of. The competition ranged from beginner to novice and there were many heats to reach the finals.

Sinentlahla Mnqeta and Sithembile Mabaso, both 4th year medical students and members of Dance@Wits, went to Stellenbosch where Mnqeta took part in the Latin competition while Mabaso went to support the Witsie dancers.

“Our novice Latin couples came 2nd and 5th while the beginner Latin couple came 6th. Two of the ballroom couples reached the quarter-finals,” said Mnqeta.

Mnqeta and her partner reached the final in the Latin section.

“This year we did better than previous years in our Latin and ballroom. Dance@Wits has many disciplines [of dance] and for a few years those [others] shone, but this year the Latin and ballroom were better,” said Mnqeta.

“No one from Wits fell, luckily,” said Mnqeta and Mabaso together.

“Some of the universities are really over the top and the dancers have very big egos. We just dance for fun and enjoy it,” said Mnqeta.

For both Mnqeta and Mabaso the best thing about Intervarsity was the bonding experience.

“We bonded with each other and the other universities,” said Mabaso.

Mnqeta added: “We also went sightseeing and especially enjoyed the Flood Museum in Laingsburg on our 20-hour bus trip.”

The University of Cape Town was the overall winner with Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Stellenbosch, University of Pretoria, Rhodes and Wits filling up the other spots.

Mnqeta and Mabaso encouraged Witsies to join Dance@Wits. “The instructors are supportive and patient,” said Mabaso.

“I started Latin seven months ago,” said Mnqeta “and I made the finals.”

Witsies can check out Dance@Wits’ Facebook page and contact them at

Kiss and tell…

FROM stolen kisses in dark corners to getting hot and heavy where everyone can see you: These are different degrees of public displays of affection and this story was inspired by one of the hot-and-heavy showcases.


Public display of affection or PDA for the hip people, causes different reactions from different cultures. It ranges from the American culture’s “Get a room!” to other cultures that just shrug and move on.


Hloni Thahane, a 1st year BCom student in philosophy, politics & economics says “it is not cool for black guys to be seen kissing in public.”


His family is a combination of the Sotho and Zulu cultures and according to him he doesn’t mind PDA but his parents would definitely mind.


“My parents aren’t fans of PDA. If it is their 25th year anniversary they will kiss, but only if they have to,” said Thahane.


Thahane also said he thinks white parents are different where PDA is concerned: “I would feel comfortable doing it [showing affection] in front of my white friends’ parents. They seem more accepting of it.”


Ntombi Chisale, a 3rd year architecture student also says white people are more prone to show affection in public. She is Malawi but practising Ndebele and she says: “[PDA] to a minimum is okay, but I don’t want to see too much.”


Sheril Kirshenbaum, author of The Science of Kissing, said in an interview with the Canadian National Post: “There are still a lot of places where kissing is considered completely indecent; many parts of the Middle East, for example…” These countries include India, where PDA is a criminal offence and Dubai where PDA is frowned upon.


Here are some cool kissing facts from and Deutsche Welle’s website.

  • International Kissing Day is on July 6 and was introduced in 1990.
  • A person who lives to be 70 will kiss for 110 000 minutes (76.4 days) of their life.
  • You burn 26 calories in a one-minute kiss.
  • Most people turn their heads to the right when kissing.
  • 59% of men and 66% of women have ended a relationship because of a bad kiss.


Parking spaces make way for pedestrian safety


WITSIES now have less space to park with some bright, yellow poles blocking off the parking bays in front of the Chamber of Mines building and opposite CCDU.

The reason for these new additions, according to Emannuel Prinsloo, director of Campus Development and Planning, is to provide students with a safe walkway from the newly built Wits Science Stadium to the Amic Deck.

“When the Science Stadium is operating at full capacity as from February 2012, approximately 3 500 to 4 000 students may move between the two campuses and pedestrian movement along the north and south spine past the Village Cafe is no longer feasible,” Prinsloo says.

Nyiko Mnisi, a 2nd year BSc student, says closing off the parking bays is contributing to the parking problem that Wits has. He does not have a car but says his friends have problems with parking.

“Closing those parking bays shows that they (Wits) are not committed to solving the parking problem,” Mnisi says.

Second year mechanical engineering student, Gordyn Loubscher, says it will not make much of a difference to the parking problem. He says pedestrians should be safe because no one drives too fast down the road but that it is better to be safe.

Prinsloo says short-term parking spaces will be available at the eastern end of the Science Stadium but they will be removed once construction on the proposed Mathematical Sciences Building begins.

“We are hoping to have concluded a usage agreement with our neighbour at John Orr Technical School (near West Campus Village), which will yield additional student parking opportunities,” he says.

Prinsloo says the agreement with John Orr is an ongoing process but they wish to conclude it as soon as possible.

Abi Morgan, a 2nd year BSc student in anatomy and physiology, says the walkway will be better for pedestrians but for the first years who used to park in those parking bays, “it sucks”.

“There is chaos on that road in any case and people are now parking illegally on the side of the road,” says Morgan.

Another 2nd year BSc student, Lebogang Mohlahlana, says that pedestrians need to be safe but “not if it is an inconvenience to other students”. She says her one friend came (to class?) late because she couldn’t find parking.

The parking areas to the west of the Chamber of Mines building will also be redesigned so pedestrians will be safe walking from the Enoch Sontonga parking lot to the Science Stadium.



Former Miss Deaf SA to become a movie star

FORMER Miss Deaf South Africa, Vicki Fourie, landed a role in an international movie while she was competing at the Miss Deaf World competition in Prague.

The 22-year-old beauty and motivational speaker from Bloemfontein took part in the 11th Miss Deaf World competition in July. She competed against 38 contestants from different countries and Fourie says they were treated like royalty.

“I was completely lost in a fairy-tale world where the streets are made of cobblestones and the window banks are decorated with flowers. The mystical atmosphere of narrow streets and the tower-high buildings makes Prague a must-see for any foreigner,” she said.

Although Fourie didn’t place in the pageant, she was offered the opportunity to play in an international movie opposite an Oscar-winning actress – only an hour after the pageant finished. Fourie says the role is small and she cannot reveal much detail but says she is very excited.

After the competition in Prague she also received an offer from a German psychologist to be a guest speaker in her country.

Fourie was crowned Miss Deaf SA in 2009 and crowned as 1st princess at the Miss Deaf International competition in Las Vegas last year. She has been taking part in pageants for four years but has decided she wants to move on to bigger things.

“I’m still the same girl I was before I started, but at the same time I developed so much more in my character and I’m so much stronger now.”

Her motto in life is: “Courage isn’t a gift, it’s a decision.” This is one of the messages she brings across in her motivational speaking.

At the moment Fourie, who is a published writer with over 70 magazine articles, locally and internationally, is writing her memoir which she plans to get published in 2012 .

Although she is not completely deaf, Fourie has 97% hearing loss and relies on her apparatus and reading lips to converse. But she does not see herself as a deaf woman and believes the world doesn’t owe her anything and that it’s her responsibility to make something of her life.

“Embrace who you are. Your disability does not need to define you…Be courageous!”

Readers are welcome to contact Vicki for a guest appearance:

Read her blog:

Follow her on Twitter: @vickifourie


Witsie most improved squash player

A hardworking Witsie was chosen as the most improved squash player at the recent University Sport South Africa (USSA) tournament. Patrick Khumalo, a 26-year-old mechanical engineering student, was chosen at the 2011 USSA squash tournament that took place at Rhodes University in Grahamstown from July 4-8.

He has been Wits’s number one squash player for some time and said he was up against some tough competition at the tournament.  “I was very surprised when my name was called. I walked up to receive my medal and certificate. It was great,” said Khumalo.

Liz Chase from Wits Sport Administration said: “We are extremely proud of his success.” The Wits squash team placed 8th in the A-league at the tournament. They competed against 13 universities from all over the country, including University of Pretoria and University of Cape Town.

The tournament takes place every year at a different host university and a USSA Top 6 are also chosen.