Graduating students given strict orders to use Wits University’s official photographic service provider – or else.
A longstanding agreement between Wits University and their official service provider for graduation photos, Gordon Harris Photographic is being called out for its monopolistic nature by students and practitioners.
Graduation season is in full swing at Wits, with in-person ceremonies taking place in the Great Hall between Monday, April 17 and Wednesday, April 26.
In an email sent to students on Wednesday, April 12, the university announced that no other photography service providers will be allowed onto campus, and those spotted will be removed from the campus by Campus Security Services (CPS).
Put the camera down!
Wits Vuvuzela learnt just how serious the threat was on Tuesday, April 18, when this reporter was swiftly removed from the Great Hall Piazza after taking two photos. An unnamed CPS officer said, “Please stop what you are doing…You know you are not allowed to be using your camera here!” The officer said permits are needed for anyone using photographic equipment.
Another photographer was pulled aside at the time but was let go when he could prove the camera, belonged to the student he was taking photos of and not his personal property.
Then a lengthy pillar to post search ensued in pursuit of this permit or accreditation, something which this publication has never had to secure to cover graduations. In the past the Great Hall steps were considered free dominion for all, with the inside of the hall reserved for the service provider.
Head of communication at Wits, Shirona Patel said this is a security measure. “[CPS] are strict because we have had many photographers (and people pretending to be photographers) wanting to scam Wits’ students and their families.”
Gripe with Gordon Harris
Gordon Harris Photographic, the university’s service provider offers the service of studio photographs two hours before and after the graduation ceremony, together with three on stage photographs. A service provided across 100 institutions nationwide, with almost blanket exclusivity.
The cheapest packages range from R400 to R550 for high-resolution images shared via email or prints, the latter incurs an additional delivery fee. All non-refundable.
An affected graduate, Thato Senoamadi (21) told Wits Vuvuzela, “It is very unfair. Not everyone can afford what Gordon Harris charges…Imagine having to capture your graduation memories with a phone because the photographer you can afford is not allowed on campus,” he said.
These are the same sentiments shared in a tweet by Twitter user @DanielNgobeni6 at a graduation ceremony held at Unisa on April 4, 2023, where a photographer can be seen being dragged away from the ZK Matthews Great Hall.
A student creative and photographer, Thando Radebe (21) has resorted to bending the truth to carry on with his side hustle. “I find it weird that I have to lie [to CPS] every time a different security guard catches me taking pictures,’ he said. “I tell [CPS] I either didn’t know or that I never got the email, some of them are very understanding,” he added.
“[Gordon Harris Photography] wants all the money to themselves, some of us cannot even compete,” a disgruntled Radebe said. “For example, I charge R900 per hour with room for negotiations and more photos than them…but because I do not have a contract with Wits, students will never know,” he said.
An official complaint was lodged with The Competition Commission in July 2022. Spokesperson, Siyabulela Makunga said, “The commission is currently engaging all affected respondents to gather requisite information as part of our screening process,” which can take up to 12 months from when the complaint was received.
FEATURED IMAGE: Graduates exiting the Great Hall and coming down the stairs to the Piazza after the end of their ceremony. Photo: Nokuthula Zwane/File
Wits accounting students pass with flying colours at the first annual chartered accountancy qualifying exams.
Graduates of the Wits School of Accountancy, who sat for the January 2023 Initial Test of Competency (ITC) exam achieved a 97% pass towards being chartered accountants.
Of the 3 021 candidates who sat for the exam, the Wits School of Accountancy was represented by 248 candidates and a whopping 240 of them passed.
The ITC is the first of two qualifying exams for the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica) – a regulatory body for all chartered accountants in the country. The second qualifying exam is the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC), candidates must pass the ITC before qualifying for the APC.
Although Wits came fourth behind the University of Pretoria (first), North-West University (second), and the University of Stellenbosch (third), the school managed to produce the second highest pass by full time African students at 96%.
In addition, Muhammad Sharaafat Moosajee, Lenn Maja and Riyadh Lakhi from stood out with Honour’s passes – a total mark 75% or more -in the exam. With Moosajee coming joint fifth in the overall candidate’s results rankings.
The head of the school, professor Nirupa Padia (60) told Wits Vuvuzela, “when I started as head [in 2013], [Wits’ pass in the ITC] had been about upper 80s, lower 90s. It wasn’t this high, and it didn’t have [this many] transformation [African] students.” She attributed the stellar results to the school’s teaching approach in the second semester of last year, where they managed to get students back on campus.
Lenn Maja (22) who is currently an academic trainee at the school, said that he had mixed feelings when the results came out. “I could not be excited because I had to focus on my master’s [degree in commerce],” he said. However, he added that the pass came as no surprise to him, “the moment I got my results for postgraduate diploma, I knew I was ready.”
He attested to Wits’ participation in his preparation and said that they showed him and his 2022 group great support. “Consultations, tutorials and ITC past paper were all provided by the school,” he said. Maja was full of praises for the school as he closed off by saying, “When Wits says you are ready to wite ITC, you are ready to write ITC”.
ITC exams are written twice a year, in January and in June. With Wits having performed this well in January, we are all looking forward to seeing their performance in the June exams.
FEATURED IMAGE: A third-year Wits school of accountancy student compiling their lecture notes, shortly after collecting them from the school. Photo: Otsile Swaratlhe
The beginning might not have been convincing, but Activate Wits delivered on a fun night for all nonetheless.
The Activate Wits society decorated the former SRC offices with rainbow flags, awaiting students’ arrival at their first event for 2023, a games night at the DJ Du Plessis building on West Campus.
Activate Wits is a diverse all-inclusive student society dedicated to protecting the rights of LGBTQIA+ students at Wits University.
Activate Wits chairperson, Justin Yawe (20) asked everyone to join them in a circle of trust – forming a circle while holding hands – for “a proper welcome to the Activate family,” and brief introductions by attendees. This proved a tall order for the 100 strong crowd, so not all got the opportunity.
With the formalities out of the way, the music started pumping and games like chess, table soccer, and 30 seconds were played. Less competitive attendees took to dancing and singing along to those behind the microphone at the karaoke station.
Anouk Klijnstra (19), who is not a member of Activate Wits and was attending the event hosted by the student society for the first time told Wits Vuvuzela, “I am enjoying the community. I feel at home, happy and in a safe space.”
Itumeleng Moalusi (21) an Activate Wits member said: “I like how everyone is just happy and [Games Night] is a vibe. Did you see the dance moves that [other attendees] were doing!?” she exclaimed.
Activate Wits events officer and organizer of the Games Night, a third-year student Noma Sibanda (20) called the night a success. “Our aim as this year’s committee is to grow and further our family and the relations we have. Tomorrow these people are going to be able to greet and talk to each other on campus because they met each other here tonight.”
In the coming months, “More talks [around queerness], the pride march and regular smaller events like [Games night],” are in store for Activate Wits members.
FEATURED IMAGE: A member of Activate Wits, Itumeleng Moalusi (21) at the Games Night posing in front of the LGBTQIA+ rainbow flag. Photo: Otsile Swaratlhe
Award-winning ‘Kgosigadi’ is grateful for the four-year nurturing she got at the Wits radio station.
VowFM presenter Boipelo Hlapane has joined the recently launched North-West-based commercial radio station, YouFM. Hlapane, also known as Kgosigadi, will co-host a breakfast show, starting on Monday, April 3.
YouFM made the announcement on their Twitter page on Friday, March 24, along with that of other additions to the station’s team.
Hlapane (28) said that the appointment came as no surprise to her. “The work I did at VowFM speaks for itself.” As a recipient of the station’s people’s person choice award in 2020, she believes that the technical skills she acquired at the Academy of Sound Engineering are what separate her from the typical radio host.
She joined Vow in 2018 as a stand-in presenter, after resigning from the International Hotel School in Sandton as a student representative. She went on to get a stable slot on Area Code as a co-host with Boipelo Mooketsi, and by the time she left, had also been presenter for That Lunch Show, VowFM Drive and Breakfast Punch.
She heads to YouFM with intentions to repeat what earned her the South African Radio Award for best daytime show in 2021. “I took over That Lunch Show, and a year later it won an award. The style and voice I introduced earned me recognition,” Hlapane says.
In 2022, she was nominated again for the best daytime show and for the best daytime show presenter on VowFM Drive. Although she walked away empty-handed that time, she was not discouraged. “I had to remember that sometimes you must let what you love be your killer.”
She leaves VowFM after a short introduction to the listeners of Breakfast Punch. Hlapane is filledwith a lot of gratitude towards the station: “[VowFM] will forever be home.”
VowFM programme manager Junior Malinga told Wits Vuvuzela that the radio station is a door opener for anyone with a passion for radio. “[VowFM] gives inexperienced interns necessary skills and trains their brain to start treating working in radio as an actual job.”
The show she will be co-hosting alongside Dj Ankletap, YOUR Mornings with Malume Tap will air Monday to Friday, from 5am to 9am, on FM 89.8 to FM 103.9, youfm.co.za, DStv channel 842 or the YouFM app.
FEATURED IMAGE: Boipelo Hlapane in front of a poster announcing her imminent arrival at YouFM. Photo: YouFM Twitter page (@YOUFM89)
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