Sunday Times & the Times scoop top investigative journalism award

THE Sunday Times and The Times won the 5th Taco Kuiper Awards for Investigative Journalism for the year 2010.

First prize went to Mzilikazi wa Afica and Stephan Hofstatter for their story on Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele and the SAPS building lease, which focused on the Police Commissioner’s influence in a R500-million lease deal with businessman Roux Shabangu without a proper tender process.

Sipho Masondo of The Times took second prize for his series of articles exposing governmental negligence in mining and the resulting impact on the environment.

“I’ve always wanted to tell things as they are; not how management wants. In journalism, I have the opportunity to [do this],” said Masondo, who hails from a public relations background.

And so he did, when he wrote one of the articles in the series, that brought to public attention the danger of acid mine drainage from toxic water -during the heavy rain period earlier this year – and the inability for Gauteng mines to pump the water out fast enough.

Wa Africa’s efforts landed him in jail last year when, along with Hofstatter, he wrote the article that exposed Cele in the police headquarters lease deal scandal.

The New York Times reporter Andrew Lehren, who delivered the keynote speech, lauded the winners.

“I was very impressed with the work I’ve seen. It was phenomenal work and brave too [as journalists are exposed to] political pressure.”

Editor and publisher of Southern African Report and former deputy chairman of the South African chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, Raymond Louw said “[It was] absolutely well deserved and totally appropriate”.

According to Mail & Guardian editor, Nic Dawes, Wa Africa and Hofstatter’s story “had to win” as it was the story of the year.

“[The win was] very richly deserved.”

Antony Altbeker, who was the first Taco Kuiper Award recipient, added that as an environmental story it was great to see Sipho win.

The Sunday Times duo landed R200 000.

“I’m getting married in November, so the money will come in handy,” said Masondo of his R100 000 prize.


“I want a red gown too”

SO the thing is, I graduated this past weekend in Grahamstown and out of all the lovely memories and stories I want to share with you, the most outstanding one is about the red gown. Rhodes University’s PhD gown is a red academic robe accompanied by a velvet cap. When I heard the PhD students’ dissertations being read out and watched as they were being capped, hooded and receiving their doctorate caps, I felt an urge.

Already dressed, capped and hooded by Chancellor Jakes Gerwel, I felt like a little achiever. But when the time came for the newly declared doctors of philosophy in their specific fields, I felt a tinge of envy. I felt as though someone had just left a diamond necklace with my name on it, at the tip of Mount Kilimanjaro.  

I really want the necklace (red robe), and I’m sort of halfway up the (academic) mountain but just thinking about continuing the uphill hike is not only daunting, but to a ‘not-so-eager-beaver’ like myself I would much rather watch someone else reach the top – on DVD, sitting on a couch eating popcorn.

Anyway, I really want to wear that red robe, and that’s what I was thinking about all weekend while I was there celebrating my undergraduate degree. It’s the first step toward getting to that red robe, the first phase towards reaching the top of my academic mountain and adorning myself with the diamonds, my red robe.  

My mother has an unfortunate habit of ‘taking the fizz outta the pop’ and a classic example of this was on our return from the little nerdy town when she says, “I just hope that after these celebrations and ceremonies, all these graduates get jobs.” What a mood-killer. So there you have it; my trip to the peak of Kilimanjaro has been halted by a mother who wants to reap the rewards of four years of investment in her last born.

I want to wear a red gown too, but it will come in time. Honours is not a joke, I doubt masters is soft on one either, so I’ll give the red robe some alone time before I announce our permanent matrimony.


“Helen Suzman’s participation in opposing the complete absence of democracy in South Africa under Nationalist Party rule must be applauded” – Nelson Mandela (1993).

I would like to refer to the history of the DA because it is easy to make assumptions when ignorance is evident.  The Democratic Alliance traces back to the anti-apartheid movement of the 1970s and 1980s, during which it was known as the Progressive Party and the Progressive Federal Party.

Helen Suzman, an anti-apartheid activist, was the sole representative of the Progressive Party in Parliament and opposed oppression. She upheld liberal policies in the apartheid-era legislature and spoke out against apartheid laws. She became known for her public criticism of the governing National Party’s policies of apartheid at a time when this was unusual among white people.  Suzman fought against detention without trial, job reservation on the grounds of colour, racially separated amenities and argued against the banning of the Communist Party. In 1975, she tackled gender discrimination, especially against black women.

Helen Zille also fought against apartheid laws. Didn’t she break the story on Steve Biko’s death?  During the 1980s she was involved in the Black Sash movement, a non-violent women’s resistance organisation.

We are all here because South Africans fought together. Yes, the ANC played a part in the liberation struggle and we praise those that fought in the struggle, but never leave out the freedom fighters outside the ANC like Steve Biko, Helen Suzman and Joe Seremane. If it wasn’t for them and the South African people we wouldn’t be walking side by side today.

Anyone can be in politics if they are there for the right reasons. Whether it’s wanting change or contributing to a better South Africa or in this case, Wits a place where everyone is equal and has the same opportunities. For those that think otherwise; maybe THEY shouldn’t be in politics because if you were in the political arena you would still be here!?

It would be beneficial for the uneducated to do a history lesson before they make fools of themselves.  It’s a shame such comments come from students at Wits, maybe they should ask for a refund because intelligent individuals at a prestigious institution should know better than to lie and it’s best to get your facts straight.

Nazley Sharif

Daso chairperson.

UK’s decision to cap student visas advantageous or not?

The United Kingdom officially cut the number of visas given to students who come from non-European countries by 25% on April 6, 2011.

According to official stats on the UK Immigration website, about 180 000 foreign students were admitted in 2009. The government’s longer-term aim is to reduce immigration numbers to less than 100 000 annually as students make up a large proportion of total immigration.

Wits International Office director Fazella Haniff says, “The European countries have been assisting South Africa to develop talent, but would end up recruiting them away, so this would be good. A good thing for South Africa, maybe not for some South Africans.”

One of the new conditions to qualify to apply for a UK visa is one’s graduate status.

The decision is also an attempt to reduce the number of people who work in low-skilled jobs.

The Post Study Work (PSW) visa has also been discontinued as of April 6. The visa allowed a student visa holder to stay for two extra years in the country after their studies.

“South Africa is trying to boost its economy and the number of its graduates,” Haniff says, explaining why this decision by the UK will benefit South Africa as well as other non-European countries by retaining their talent.

“There is no problem with going to study that side. [But,] Africans are asking developed countries to return their people, [so they can] add value back home.”

French foreign exchange student, Suzanne Chatelier, says, “It’s the same in France; it’s not easy to get a visa to work. European countries attract a lot of people, it’s normal that they would want to control that [immigration].”

“But,” she adds, “you need to think about two aspects. It’s normal to try to protect borders but you can learn a lot from them [foreigners].”

Haniff says, “The UK’s top universities are filled with foreign students and second-generation citizens.

“We are in a deficit in the knowledge sector. The global war for knowledge workers is everywhere.”

International students lobby for Campus Health doctor’s reinstatement

Wits international students’ lobbies to cut ties with their medical aid helped them in getting their Campus Health doctor back.

The medical aid group Primecure surprisingly dropped their resident doctor Dr. O Akerele with no explanation.

Akerele, one of two Campus Health and Wellness Centre doctors, was dropped earlier this year. International students received an e-mail about the change from Momentum Health’s student segment specialist, Neville Govender.

The e-mail read: “Please be advised that Dr. Akrele’s practice at Campus Health and Molemo Clinic is no longer a registered Primecure provider.” It also gave them two off-campus, Braamfontein doctors as alternatives.

Akerele said: “[They] only re-instated [me] because of the pressure from Wits, because all the International students know me.”

The Wits International Office and Campus Health & Wellness centre both said Akerele had been re-instated as of Monday,March 28.

But Akerele said that no one had notified him of this as he explained how his unfair dismissal affected his attitude toward the Primecure group.

 “I feel very let down by the team,” he said, explaining that the root of this issue was linked to the “Bogus Nigerian Doctors” story that made national news in February this year.

On February 9, six Nigerian doctors were arrested on charges of using bogus qualifications to work as doctors in South Africa. It later emerged that four of the six doctors were registered with the Health Professionals’ Council of SA (HPCSA) but were not permitted to work in private healthcare, only public.

A number of students who asked to remain anonymous criticised the way in which the issue has been handled saying they felt they weren’t given sufficient explanation as to why their doctor was dropped. 

But Ellen Downing, 2nd year BA, expressed her frustration with the International Office’s role in the issue. She also explained how inconsiderate it was to suggest alternative doctors who were not on campus, “I’m a second year, but what about the 1st years who aren’t used to Braamfontein?”   

Wits University requires all international students to sign up with a South African medical aid scheme. It also recommends Ingwe Health as consultation hours occur on campus. 

Ingwe is a student plan under Momentum Health which uses Primecure as a service provider for its members.

Neville Govender couldn’t comment on the matter, saying he was “not at liberty to respond” until they had received feedback from the Primecure group.


Waking up to the news that South Africa’s crime intelligence boss is missing, amidst rumours of murder, should not feel like just another ordinary day in Africa. But gauging by the reactions of the general public on internet news sites, this kind of news comes as neither a shock nor a surprise. It is with a sinking feeling that the nation’s faith in its criminal justice system has reached an all-time low.

 Lieutenant-General Richard Mdluli, who is widely known as South Africa’s ‘Top Cop’, has been issued a warrant of arrest for a murder he allegedly committed 12 years ago. Corruption is the word of the day. But a subtle reminder to our compatriots that we are neither the judge nor the jury in this case, is certainly in order. When our public figures find themselves in hot water, we tend to almost immediately adopt the attitude of ‘guilty until proven innocent’, unfairly convicting before a fair trial is held.

 Jacob Zuma was labeled a rapist before he had the chance to prove he was innocent. Glen Agliotti was guilty of Brett Kebble’s murder before he even appeared in court. The famous Texas Conviction case in the 1980s when Carlos DeLuna was executed for a murder he may not have committed, should serve as a warning to the South African public, because labelling someone a ‘murderer’ or ‘rapist’ is as hard to retract, as it would be to bring DeLuna back to life.

 No matter how frustrated we become with our justice system, appointing ourselves High Court judges, is not going to solve the problem.

 Without disputing the fact that seemingly guilty people have walked away scot free, some even teeing off on the golf course in KZN, big fishes like Jackie Selebi have found themselves lumped with 15-year sentences behind bars; a reassurance that justice can prevail.

 We can’t call for justice when have made ourselves the judge, jury and executioner, because that way our minds are made up before the system has even had a chance to prove itself capable.

Internal League games coming up

The Interfaculty League season is about to begin on campus and teams are getting fit and ready for a new season with new challenges.

The league starts in late March and team registration has already begun for the basketball, rugby and football teams.

Last year’s Steinhoff Interfaculty games winners will defend their titles as this year’s games begin.

This year’s games will include football, futsal (indoor soccer), rugby, basketball, netball and cricket.

The Humanities Titans will defend their 2010 interfaculty rugby crown. They have shown good early form thrashing Knockando 54-0 in the opening round. Last season they cruised through all stages of the competition and beat Engineers in the final.

Futsal will be a new addition to the football league. It is a fast paced, indoor version of the beautiful game and offers an alternative to those who don’t have enough time or players.

The outdoor, 11-a-side football league will also be kicking off next week. The defending premier league champions Miners FC will be defending theit title in what was a highly competitive league last year.

There is also a cup competition that allows teams from all divisions to compete and always throws an upset or two. Last year the Human-a-Titties FC made it all the way to the quarter finals and were the only lower division team to do so.

Basketball and netball internal leagues will be hitting the courts and teams can still register at the Wits Sports Council offices at Sturrock Park. Last year the Medics took the netball league.

Cricket will be the last of the internal leagues to start as it only gets going on April 2. Last year the Mens’ Res team won the tournament. Teams battle it out in separate groups with the semi-finals and final played under floodlights with a white ball.

The league’s starting dates are as follows: rugby – March 16, basketball – March 18, football –March 23, netball – March 28, futsal – April 1 and cricket April 2.

Female drivers less of a risk behind the wheel

The European Court of Justice’s  ban on gender-based car insurance  at the beginning of this month – to be implemented in December 2012 – has received mixed reactions.

British prime minister David Cameron has criticised it, saying it is unfair on women because on the whole they have safer driving records than men and would no longer benefit from lower insurance payments.

Health sociology masters student, Lesego Kgatitswe, says, “I think it’s unfair, we shouldn’t be paying the same as men. We don’t earn the same amounts in the work place, so if they want to eradicate gender inequality they should start with that.”

Managing director of insurance brokers 1st for Women  Robyn Farrell says “we have statistical evidence that proves that women are involved in fewer accidents than men.”

In South Africa the cost of the average car claim by an 18-year-old male is R11 997.00, while that for an 18-year-old female is R8668.00, according to 1st for Women.

Bogadi Manzini, a 28-year-old female driver, who works in Braamfontein says: “[It] wouldn’t be fair, we should pay less because we are safer drivers. I don’t support it. And would we be paying the same [amount] as the men or will there be a new standard [amount]?”.

Others feel it isn’t as big a deal as it is being made out to be.

“Your gender is just one out of many criteria that your insurance considers,” says Motlapele Tau, a 42-year-old female driver.

Jolene Chait, 1st for Women’s PR managing director, says “[we] will continue to charge premiums that reflect women’s lower insurance risk as drivers.”

BHP Billiton beats Wits’ 2nd team

Wits’s second team lost a friendly against Richards Bay’s BHP Billiton on Saturday 12 March.

With both teams’ first matches for the year, the friendly resulted in BHP Billiton beating the Witsies 34-26.

The match was both teams’ debut on the year’s fixture list and resulted in the Billiton team going back to Richards Bay victors.

“We feel good. It’s our first game and we won it. I’m happy about the stamina of the guys and there’s great support. We hope we can come back again” said team organiser Khetha Mdluli.

Wits attempted to attack throughout the match but lost most of the balls as a result of miscommunication, missed shots and a porous defence.

Wits player, Julius Lax said “It’s our first match and we’re still developing. There’s still a lot to do in the defence, people are still playing individually”.

Wits Basketball second team playing against BHP Billiton on Saturday.

Wits Coach, Judd Simantov admitted that Billiton played a good game, “it was a well played victory”.

The team from Richards Bay is made up of employees who work for the Global Mining Company.

“We are all under the aluminium sector” said Mdluli who added that the team

includes engineers, artisans, supervisors, operators and process technicians.

The company’s basketball team began 6 years ago, as a form of keeping fit and socialising with each other after recognising each other from high school basketball games.

The team also plays against local clubs in Richards Bay as well as teams within Aluminium South Africa, part of BHP SA.

Mixed reaction to minister’s call for engineers

PUBLIC Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu’s recent national call for artisans and engineers (unemployed, not yet qualified and retired) to submit their CVs to a proposed database has received different reactions.

The department said the aim of the database is to contribute to job creation and the sustainability of skills as well as to help the department’s delivery on its infrastructure development mandate.

“It’s an excellent idea, very innovative. It’s a breath of fresh air to hear that sort of thinking from the minister,” said head of Wits University’s school of mechanical, industrial & aeronautical engineering, Professor Edward Moss.

“As soon as you’re retired you don’t lose your mind. Even if you’re unemployed, you can still contribute enormously to the country’s economy.”

The department’s duties involve undertaking the construction, maintenance and renovations of a large portfolio of government buildings. To be considered, one must submit a CV to the nearest national Department of Public Works office.

Various engineering students felt some uncertainty around the minister’s request.

David Wise, 4th year industrial engineering, said: “I think it’s a good initiative, I would sign up for it. But how does the database help us to get jobs? When we leave varsity we want employment.”

Kurt Crossman, 3rd year mechanical engineering, said: “Can engineers access this database themselves or is it just Public Works? When you leave school you want to go into specific areas [and] they don’t specify [whether one can do that].”

Other students understood the message in a different light. Nakedi Kekana, 4th year electrical engineering, said: “It’s quite useful because most of the time people always talk about the lack of engineers, but I think it’s more of a lack of experience. There’s a shortage of professional engineers because to be a professional you need experience.”

David Ndeevelo, 3rd year mechanical engineering, said it was a good idea because it seemed they were trying to monopolise on the use and availability of engineers by having them all in one place.

Seychelles National Basketball team tour SA, making a pit stop at Wits.

THE Seychelles mational women’s and men’s basketball teams are in South Africa on a training camp tour.

They played against Wits University on Sunday evening, February 27 with the women’s team beating Wits 60-38 at the end of the 4th quarter. The men lost 70-74 to Wits, with Wayne Brown Mhlongo and Lebesa Selepe scoring the most points.

Having arrived on Friday February 25, women’s head coach Phillip Arissol said, “We are in the country for two weeks in preparation for the Indian Ocean Island Games,” which they will be hosting in August.

The 2011 Indian Ocean Island games also include nations such as Mauritius, Maldives, Madagascar and Comoros.

Their intensive training programme began with matches against various varsities: Wits, Vaal University of Technology, University of Johannesburg and University of Pretoria. They will also play Johannesburg clubs Egoli Magic, Soweto Raptors and Soweto Wild Cats.

Seychelles’ technical advisor Paul Denis said South Africa was chosen as the first stop en route to France where they also plan to continue their training.

The idea of having the tour here materialised during a FIBA (International Basketball Federation) conference in October last year, said Basketball South Africa’s national administrator, Tsepo Nyewe, who facilitated communication with the head of Olympic Committee, Jim Laurie.

“One of the reasons we chose to come to South Africa, which we have been trying to do for the last four years, is because of the growth (in the love of basketball) here. South Africa is moving very fast,” said Denis.

Johannesburg’s altitude also played a role in the teams’ choice of destination, Nyewe said.

“We [Basketball SA] created the programme for them and varsity teams are top teams”, Nyewe said as he explained the choice of opponents for the visitors.

Both the women and men’s national team will be playing against South Africa and Zimbabwe’s senior national teams.

South Africa’s national women’s and men’s teams will be training at Wits’ Hall 29 in preparation for their match against Seychelles this Sunday, March 6. The Women’s match starts at 3pm and the Men are at 6pm.