REVIEW: Shero, super Smanjie, attempts to save South Africa  

Loyiso Mkhize’s comic book Kwezi has been adapted into a play – with a stellar cast  

The Adventures of Super Smanjie sheds light on how rampant corruption can cripple a country’s economic prospects.  

The comedic play is an adaptation of Loyiso Mkhize’s comic book Kwezi, which was done by the Market Theatre Laboratory’s graduates. 

The show takes viewers through the life of a shero called Smanjie (played by Mathuto Mahlangu) who is gifted with superpowers at birth by her ancestors — but ends up misusing them to gain popularity on social media.  

She is told by her ancestors in a dream that she needs to save the city of Marapong from Muḓagasi, meaning electricity in Tshivenda. Muḓagasi is the city’s villain who has been stealing electricity cables to make himself stronger. To defeat him, she must first overcome her desire to use her powers to gain followers on social media for social approval. 

The production was composed and performed by Market Laboratory graduates: Rofhiwa Mundalamo, Mathuto Mahlangu, Slindokuhle Shabangu, Jack Moloi who is currently doing his postgraduate diploma in dramatic arts at Wits, and Wits fourth year theatre and performance student Zilungile Mbombo — whose illustrious performances provided a convincing mockery of the state of our country. 

The comedy’s simple set with just a chalk drawing backdrop of the city and and actors wearing plain colored t-shirts with leggings and sweatpants forced the viewer to focus entirely on the rawness of acting presented by the team.  

I was captivated by their exaggerated and mimetic use of body language to tell the story.  

Smanjie’s ancestors gifting her her powers at birth. Photo: Nonhlanhla Mathebula.

However, all the actors played more than one role in the play, which made it a bit difficult to follow on the development of each character. There was also not enough time in the play to memorise who played which roles exactly. Super Smanjie is the only exception, as she only played two roles. 

Although the play needs a certain level of familiarity with the South African social media landscape to understand some of the jokes, one can expect some serious comic relief that lightens up the mood on some of the issues affecting the country.  

Moloi told Wits Vuvuzela that it was hard producing the play themselves due to their busy schedules. However, the practical experience they received at Market Laboratory equipped them with valuable skills to finish the play.  

The show ran at Emakhaya Theatre on the 19th floor of Wits’ University Corner from May 26 to May 28, 2023. 

FEATURED IMAGE: The cast of The Adventures of Super Smanjie during their curtain call. Photo: Nonhlanhla Mathebula.


Azasco advocates Black Consciousness at Wits

What sets new party apart from other political parties is that ‘we actually do what we say’, says chairperson. 

The Azanian Students Convention (Azasco) can finally set out its plan to “bring back the ideologies of black consciousness amongst students” after months of dealing with rejections and appeals. 

This is according to the party’s chairperson, Matthew Clarke, who told Wits Vuvuzela that the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA)-led SRC had delayed their registration. 

Azasco had its first executive committee election on May 15, where Clarke and seven other members were elected to the executive committee.  

The 22-year-old BA law student added that when Azasco “first became active in early 2022”, they were told by the SRC that they could only campaign on campus once they had sent out an application to be considered as a club and society (CSO) at Wits. When applications opened in August 2022, they sent out their application but this was rejected in February.  

When he enquired why their application had been rejected, Clarke says student governance officer Wiseman Khumalo told him it was because they were a political organisation, and that they first had “to do some groundwork and establish some sort of visibility before [they could be] an official CSO”. 

The appeal process started two weeks later which delayed Azasco’s registration even further. “This was clearly an attempt [by the SRC] to push our appeal back until it [was] too late to register”, says Clarke. 

Khumalo, however, says, “There were several abnormalities such as the March protests which caused delays in the appeals process.” 

After taking the matter up with deputy dean of students Tshegofatso Mogaladi, Azasco was finally registered on April 4, thus overcoming the SRC’s said “attempts to prevent” them from registering. 

Clarke says although they were given more time to campaign outside Umthombo Building and to hand out membership forms and sort out other admin documents, it was difficult as they had “missed out on the opportunity of campaigning during O-week” and had to settle for a time in which students were now preoccupied by “assignments and exam season”.  

Azasco wasn’t the only political organisation whose application was rejected by the SRC. Wits Build One South Africa leader, Nikilitha Mxwina, told Wits Vuvuzela that their application was also rejected and one of the reasons given by the PYA was that their programme was “vague”. 

The SRC told Wits Vuvuzela that, “The Wits SRC is committed to ‘providing democratic, transparent, effective, accountable and coherent student leadership’, as such we hold no bias against any CSO applicants.” 

As the student wing of the Azanian People’s Organisation (Azapo), Azasco aims to “produce a self-reliant and accountable student populace for black students” by reviving “the ideals and proxies of black consciousness, radical [and] revolutionary left-wing politics, and to decolonise and Africanise the education system …”, says Clarke.

Unlike other parties, they plan to “actually do what we say in our plan of action”, Clarke says. “Watch and see us on the ground, and you can say what makes us different.” 

FEATURED IMAGE: Azasco chairperson Matthew Clarke makes up for lost time in recruiting students to join the party. Photo: Nonhlanhla Mathebula


BASKETBALL: Wits Lady Bucks spring win over UJ

Win ‘too close for comfort’, says Wits player while UJ forward rues ‘poor defence and messy offence. 

Wits Lady Bucks beat the UJ Women’s Basketball team 62-57 in a tight game of the Gauteng University Basketball League (GUBL) in Hall 29 at Wits on Sunday, May 21. 

UJ started off strong leaving Wits 13 points behind by the end of the first quarter.  

As the second quarter progressed UJ’s defence weakened as they struggled to gain momentum throughout the rest of the game. Wits, on the other hand, elevated their defence in the second quarter and ended up shooting 25 more baskets. 

Although UJ caught up with Wits, tying the score at 42-42 in the third quarter, their efforts went down the drain as Wits ultimately reigned supreme at the end of the last quarter with a five-point lead. 

“We lacked mental toughness and discipline, which led to our poor defence and messy offence,” said Ariane Bitchong from UJ who played the power-forward position.   

Top scorer of the day, Chineye Eneanya who shot 14 out of the 38 Lady Bucks baskets, told Wits Vuvuzela that, “Although we eventually won the game, it was too close for comfort. If we constantly keep playing like this, we are gonna lose.” 

Twenty-year-old Lady Bucks supporter, and second-year computer science student, Oriinga Maudu,  was full of praises for Eneanya’s performance, emphasising how “She provided value throughout the 35 minutes she played, despite being tired.”

Pleased about the win, Wits Lady Bucks manager Nametso Raltou said, “This win was a confidence boost for the team as the girls now know that it’s possible to win if we all put in the work.” 

The GUBL started on Thursday, May 18, and is jointly hosted by Wits and the University of Pretoria (Tuks). There are 14 teams in total with half being the men’s teams. The league ends on Sunday, May 28. 

So far Wits has played against Varsity College, Vaal University of Technology and UJ.  On Saturday, May 27, they will play against Tshwane University of Technology, and against North West on Sunday, May 28.   

FEATURED IMAGE: A UJ Women’s Basketball team player pushes through a Wits player’s defence. Photo: Nonhlanhla Mathebula


Paid to speak, yet state spokespeople refuse to 

A lack of transparency about government activities is a result of media contending with increasingly unresponsive officials, whose taxpayer-funded job is to communicate.   

Government spokespeople need to be held accountable for their unresponsiveness. This was the message of an online seminar hosted by the Wits Centre for Journalism (WCJ) on April 26. 

Titled “Why We Investigated the Thabo Bester Story”, the seminar was addressed by Nathan Geffen, editor of GroundUp, the media outlet that broke the Thabo Bester escape story. He said, “Government spokespeople are paid well for their work, but don’t seem to be doing a good job in responding to journalists.” He lamented that “The quality of information framing from the state has declined.”

Geffen added that although one can “never be sure that what [they] publish is definitively true”, there needs to be a great deal of evidence to support their story. Facilitated by Wits adjunct professor Anton Harber, the seminar learnt that newsrooms are facing a big problem in which government spokespeople are becoming increasingly unresponsive, which has resulted in a lack of transparency in the media. 

In a recent article, “Thabo Bester escape: Many unanswered questions about the death of Katlego Bereng”, GroundUp revealed that a South African Police Service (SAPS) spokesperson had refused to provide comment about how a body had ended up in Bester’s cell. 

One Twitter user was moved to comment that “Something is fishy,” emphasising the public’s mistrust in state officials. 

Responding to a question by advocate Glynnis Breytenbach in Parliament, retired justice Edwin Cameron of the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services said it was out of frustration at the law enforcement officials dragging their feet that he leaked the information to GroundUp about the burnt body found at the Mangaung prison not being that of Bester.

The reality is that journalists need information from state officials to ensure the credibility of their stories. How then, can the officials be held accountable or even be absolved of their actions if they refuse to speak? 

As Harber concluded: “There needs to be transparency from state officials” (regarding the Thabo Bester investigation) as it is “their constitutional duty” to bring forth critical information to the public.

FEATURED IMAGE: An Illustration of reporters holding microphones and taking notes. Photo: Adobe Stock


Old threads, new drip

It’s been just over one month since the first thrift store became a new tenant at The Matrix at Wits University’s main campus. 

Ali Monama poses in his shop during an interview with Wits Vuvuzela. Photo: Sbongile Molambo

On March 1, 2023 Zaza Clothing – located on the first floor of The Matrix, across Fade Barber and Salon – opened its doors, after a nearly two-year delay.  

Owner Ali Monama (31) says when he started out his business back in 2016, he used to ride around town on a bicycle, selling thrift items from a basket – and now he has his own brick-and-mortar store. 

According to Karen du Plessis, the Operations Manager for Commercial Services at Wits, “Zaza Clothing is the first of its kind at the Matrix.” 

Despite business being slow over the first month, Monama says it has been a fun experience meeting new people and interacting with different personalities. 

From afar and through the windows, it looks like a laundromat but when one gets closer, the vintage clothing and gothic accessories come into focus.   

All clothing items at Zaza Clothing are R100, while accessories range from R50 to R150 per item. Monama says this price range is tailored to his customers, who are mostly students on a tight budget.  

Monama initially wanted to open in 2021 but was held back by pandemic-related delays and long procurement procedures. “It felt great to finally be able to trade after going through so many trials and tribulations,” he says.  

Dan Kabongo (21), a fourth-year film and television student has already made a few purchases and considers himself a regular.  

He says thrifting in the Johannesburg CBD can be dangerous and out of reach, so this location is ideal. “The ideal places “that people usually thrift at are far away and are not really places I’m comfortable going [to],” says Kabongo.  

Thrifting is a shopping experience that allows buyers to find unique and interesting items at a discounted price, Zaza Clothing aims to do just that.  

FEATURED IMAGE: A customer browsing through the racks at Zaza Clothing. Photo: Sbongile Molambo