Student attacked on Wits bus days before graduation

Wits student Sisanda Msekele, who was attacked on a Wits circuit bus on Friday night, spent the weekend in Milpark hospital in Parktown, Johannesburg. Her attacker has not yet been identified, but is reportedly a fellow Wits student.

Sisanda Msekele, a blind Wits Masters student, found herself confined to a hospital bed this weekend after she was attacked by a fellow Wits student.

Msekele said the incident took place on Friday night, on a Wits bus, when she was on her way back to her residence at West Campus Village. She declined to comment further until she has recovered from her injuries.

A series of tweets yesterday from talk show host and Sunday Times columnist, Redi Thlabi, said Msekele’s attacker mocked her “dream of a PhD” which led to an argument, and the subsequent attack.

Thlabi added that Msekele had been searching for a job since the beginning of the year and was due to start tomorrow.

Msekele faced homelessness and financial problems earlier this year. She was fortunate enough to have received financial assistance from the university and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) which allowed her to remain in residence and made it possible for her to register for her PhD.

Msekele has been in Milpark hospital since the attack and could possibly miss her graduation on Tuesday. 

Msekele is optimistic that she will be discharged from Milpark hospital tomorrow, depending on the progress of her recovery.

Wits Campus Control was not able to comment on the incident. 

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Comrades champion humbled by Wits support

Witsies proudly celebrated the success of runner Caroline Wostmann, an accounting lecturer at Wits University, after she won the 90th Comrades Marathon. Wostmann was the first South African to win in the women’s race in sixteen years and had a message of success for her fellow Witsies.

It was not long after she crossed the finish line of the 90th Comrades Marathon as its ladies’ winner that Caroline Wostmann was back at her day job to invigilate exams. Wostmann, a senior accounting lecturer, received personal congratulations from her students at Wits after her momentous victory last week.

“I received a round of applause after their exam today which was very humbling and many came past to personally congratulate me,” Wostmann said.

Wostmann was back to the grind shortly after her win and in between interviews with national and international media, took some time out to give Witsies some sound advice just in time for the exam period.

“We have worked hard as a family and made many sacrifices to achieve this dream”

“Believe in your dreams and work hard to make those dreams a reality,” she said. “Hard work and dedication is the key to success,” she added.

It has been 16 years since a South African woman won the Comrades marathon, and Wostmann, who ran her fifth Comrades this year, finished the race in 6:12:22.

“I am proud to have brought the Comrades victory in the women’s race back to South Africa,” she said.

Wostmann, who also won the Two Oceans in March, said her family dedicated a lot to her achievement.

“We have worked hard as a family and made many sacrifices to achieve this dream I had of winning Comrades and are thrilled that my dream came true,” she said.

Wostmann carried a rose which symbolised a top 10 position, as she entered The Oval where the Comrades marathon ended last week Sunday. Photo: Riante Naidoo.

CHAMPION: Wostmann carried a rose which symbolised a top 10 position, as she entered The Oval where the Comrades marathon ended last week Sunday. Photo: Riante Naidoo.

In previous interviews with Wostmann, she never anticipated winning, but ONLY hoped to secure a top ten position.

“When I crossed the finish line, I had no idea that second place was so far behind me!” she laughed.

Wostmann’s position earned her a gold medal and cash prize of R 350 000, among several other cash prizes.

She said she has not had a chance to think about what she will do with her winnings yet, and will “only receive my medals after doping tests have been cleared which will probably be around October.”

The Comrades winner added that she will return to KwaZulu-Natal next year to defend her title and may consider competing on an international level.

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Wostmann prepares for her 5th comrades

Wits lecturer, Caroline Wostmann, will be running her fifth Comrades in nine days time. She is hoping to come in the top 10 in the ladies’ division and complete the race in under seven hours. Wostmann enjoys staying at the race the entire day and loves to cheer the last runners in when the final gun goes off.

Wits’ very own Caroline Wostmann, finance and management accounting lecturer, will be running her fifth Comrades marathon in nine days.

Wostmann, who came in 6th position in the race last year despite running with an injury and was the first South African lady home, began training for the race since January.

She is confident about another good race this year. “It feels like the last seven years has built up to this Comrades.”

“There is just something so special about it, and you can’t understand it unless you run it or are along the route supporting,” she said.

Caroline and her brother Christopher Cherry, who will be running his first Comrades this year. Photo: Riante Naidoo.

Caroline and her brother Christopher Cherry, who will be running his first Comrades this year. Photo: Riante Naidoo.

Wostmann’s “support crew” will also be a little bigger this year.
“My brother is doing the race for the first time,” and she added that her husband, Haiko and daughters, Gabriella (8) and Isabel (4), and her sister-in-law will be along the route supporting them.

Wostmann, who qualified for the Comrades Marathon last December when she ran the Aspen Port Elizabeth Marathon, added that her students are very supportive and proud of her achievements.

As part of her training, she ran several other qualifying races, including the Two Oceans marathon in Cape Town, which she won, back in March.

The main requirement to qualify for the Comrades is to run a marathon (42.2km) in under five hours.

Wostmann explained that for every 20 minutes a runner improves their finish time, they “move up a seeding”.

“Those who start right at the back, complete a marathon in just under five hours,” she said. “It moves down to the A seeding for qualifiers who run a marathon in just under three hours.”

“For a few special select people like me, we get to start right at the front with an elite seeding,” she laughed.

Caroline Wostmann hopes her training will pay off when she takes to the road to run her fifth Comrades next week Sunday. Photo: Riante Naidoo.

Caroline Wostmann hopes her training will pay off when she takes to the road to run her fifth Comrades next week Sunday. Photo: Riante Naidoo.

Wostmann said after the race, once media interviews and doping-control tests are done she is never in a hurry to leave.

“Something that is really special about Comrades, to me, is that I love to make sure I stay until that final gun goes, so I can cheer those people in,” she said.

“It’s the most horrible, wonderful moment when you watch those people who just make it to the end!”

Her goal position this year is to attain a top 10 spot in the women’s category and complete the run in under seven hours.

“Comrades is such an amazing race and it has such an amazing vibe,” she said. “There is no other single event that unites South Africa like the Comrades does.”

The race will be on Sunday, May 31 and will follow the up-run route (88km) from Durban to Pietermaritzburg.

Witsie performs to raise tuition fees

Peaceful Thulare, a first year drama student, used her theatrical skills and performed to a paying audience on Saturday night in order to raise the balance of her tuition fees. She was denied a bursary to study and on the evening of the show, left in darkness due to load shedding. Surprisingly, she was thankful for the ambiance of the candlelight and the support from her family and friends. 

Load-shedding did not deter a first-year drama student from performing last weekend to raise the balance of her tuition fees. Denied a student loan, peaceful Thulare resorted to her childhood love, theatre, to help her pave her way.

As a little fourth grader, she wandered around Michael Mount Waldorf School with a picture version of Shakespeare’s play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She decided her class would perform the play, appointed herself director and assigned roles to her classmates. She performed her way through high school and found herself at Wits University eight years later.

Thulare needed to reach her goal of R4 000 after a very rocky start at Wits.

She applied to Wits, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the University of Cape Town (UCT), however due to financial constraints decided it would be best to remain closer to home.

Financial woes

Thulare applied for NFSAS funding and by January was told she was unsuccessful.

“I just tried to contact every person who could possibly help me,” she said.

Thulare was raised by her mom, a domestic who worked for Gwyn Dawson, who Thulare described as her “other mom”.

After Dawson moved to Cape Town in 2007, Thulare moved in with Tasha and Paul Tollman whom she described as “foster parents”.

Peaceful Thulare, 1st year drama student in character from Foursight, the play she performed last weekend to raise the balance of her tuition fees. Photo: Riante Naidoo

Peaceful Thulare, 1st year drama student, in character during Foursight, the play she performed last weekend to raise the balance of her tuition fees. Photo: Riante Naidoo

Financial hope arrives

Thulare’s mother managed to raise her registration fees from various family members and some of her own savings.

“My mom would do anything to get me into varsity,” Thulare said.

“Paul enjoyed listening to Hot 91.9,” Thulare said, “During that period they had a programme called Wings of Change and Tasha said we should email them with my story.”

After several months the radio station contacted Thulare to find out more about her story and sponsored her tuition with more than R 22 000.

With additional aid from two more family friends, Thulare required R4 000 more to reach her total.

“Tasha suggested the idea of a show to raise money” and Thulare said using her skills to raise the funds seemed like a “viable option”.

Despite load shedding, which left Thulare in candlelight on stage, about 40 people attended which helped her reach her R 4 000 target.

“Everyone was so generous,” she said, “people who didn’t even attend offered to donate money.”

“The candlelight added ambiance and I couldn’t have thought of a better way to have performed the show,” she said.

International student’s memo drafted

The SRC has drafted an international student’s memorandum which highlights their issues surrounding registration, the application process and up-front tuition payments among several other concerns. The memorandum will be handed to Deputy Vice-Chancellor Vilakazi on May 26.

The SRC has drafted a memorandum highlighting some concerns faced by international students at Wits.

The memorandum is said to detail issues which were raised at a meeting held by the SRC on April, 23 which invited international students to voice their grievances.

Students highlighted the registration fee, application process and 75% up-front tuition fee payment as some of their serious concerns.

Tanya Otto, the SRC’s international affairs officer, said the complaints were raised more strongly as a result of xenophobic attacks last month.

“The anger of international students came across when they said that these issues have been happening forever,” Otto said.

“The violence is an aftermath of what has been happening and institutionalised xenophobia is what’s allowing it to happen.”

The memorandum was compiled by Otto and other international student representatives.

SRC FOR CHANGE: Tanya Otto (left) and Shaeera Kalla (right) discuss fine tuning concerns for the international student's memorandum which they will present to the DVC later this month. Photo: Riante Naidoo

SRC FOR CHANGE: Tanya Otto (left) and Shaeera Kalla (right) discuss fine tuning concerns for the international student’s memorandum which they will present to the DVC later this month. Photo: Riante Naidoo

Shaeera Kalla, acting president of the SRC, described the initial meeting as “hostile” and said her concern is to get international lecturers at Wits to help “push the agenda for international students at Wits and their own issues”.

“I am looking at this memorandum as a first step to negotiations around international issues,” Kalla said.

“The SRC aims to create a platform for international students to feel comfortable enough to speak about their issues without feeling it is just going to be dismissed,” Kalla said.

The SRC felt there was a lack of response from international students at the initial meeting and said she saw the current memorandum as a “working document”.

“There needs to be more issues addressed in the memorandum that relate to other stakeholders,” Kalla said. She said these were international lecturers and international non-academic staff at Wits.

The SRC aims to have events throughout the year in which they can promote international cultures in order to “create a safe environment where international students feel like they are heard,” Kalla said.

Kalla added that the extent to which local students are willing to get involved in international students’ issues and assist them also needs to be acknowledged.

Otto said the memorandum was compiled last week Friday and the SRC will present the memorandum to Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Zeblon Vilakazi on May 26.

Otto and Kalla said of the 15 international student associations on campus, only four have responded and provided input for the memorandum.

“We can’t blame it on unresponsiveness and say that that is the reason for not addressing issues,” Kalla said. “What we need to do is create a space to encourage participation where international student societies don’t feel as though they don’t want to be involved.”

Kalla said the SRC is focused on creating an environment which can foster discussion.

She said they aim to eventually extend the memorandum to focus on broader issues regarding international students and academics issues with home affairs and issues faced by all international visitors.

“We want to contact other universities to discuss these issues and do something about it.”

Witsie’s film showcased at Cannes

Wits alumni Brad Katzen and Durban filmmaker Shaun Naidoo will have their short film, The Beginning, shown at Cannes, the oldest film festival in the world. Katzen, who wrote, directed and edited the film, and Naidoo who produced it, are working a new full-length feature film which they plan to release next year.

Wits University graduate Brad Katzen, writer and director of The Beginning, will be walking the red carpet at this year’s 68th Cannes Film Festival which starts today in France.

The Beginning, produced by Durbanite Shaun Naidoo, is a short film featuring well-known South African actors Tumisho Masha, from The Wild and Letoya Mangezi who had a stint on Isidingo.

The storyline follows the life of Lisa, a mother who is forced to deal with the death of her young child. With the help of a man named George, Lisa journeys through various emotional stages in which she faces her own mortality.

In an article published by Wits University, Katzen is said to have graduated from the institution with three distinctions and continued his studies at the AFDA Film School.

According to the article, Katzen’s short films won him numerous film-making accolades. He was also said to have written and directed films for large corporates and was head writer for the sit-com J-Bay and children’s series Madiba’s Magical Folktales.

Producer of The Beginning, Naidoo told Big Up Africa that “The Beginning is a short film which in itself can be very tricky. You have a limited amount of time to tell a story so every detail is vital to doing that”.

Naidoo added that the film explored “some deep human themes and introduced a perspective on life, which we think is unique.”

Naidoo and Katzen are said to be on the lookout for funding for their next “big project” at the festival.

The Beginning will be featured throughout the Cannes festival which runs until May, 26.

Watch a trailer for The Beginning.

 

“Red My Lips” against sexual violence

The Red My Lips campaign hosted every year in April to show support and encourage men and women to stand in solidarity against sexual violence was supported by Witsies this year. Here are 5 facts telling you more about the campaign.

If anyone was wondering whether there is a new red-lip frenzy on the rise, the “Red My Lips” campaign is the reason women have been pouting a little more this April. The campaign is not an opportunity for ladies to paint on red lipstick and embrace their inner diva, as many may think, but stand in solidarity against sexual violence. The campaign, which has spread worldwide, takes place in Sexual Assault Awareness month (April) to support rape victims.

Below are 5 facts about the “Red My Lips” campaign:

1. What is “Red My Lips”?
The “Red My Lips” campaign aims to create global awareness about the realities and prevalence of sexual violence, while trying to fight rape myths and stop victim-blaming.

Photo: Facebook

This image was used as the campaign’s trademark to inspire others to join the cause. Photo: Facebook.

2. When and why the campaign began, and by who?
The campaign began in 2011 by an American rape survivor, Danielle Tansino. She started the campaign due to the absence of family support and after she realised her perpetrator would not be prosecuted when a female district attorney told her: “Jurors don’t like girls that drink.” She has also campaigned to get men involved.

3. How far has the campaign spread?
The campaign has gained support in over 95 countries, including Australia, South Africa and India and Vietnam.

Red My Lips tweeted this image to indicate the support recieved from countries around the world. Photo: Twitter.

Red My Lips tweeted this image to indicate the support received from countries around the world. Photo: Twitter.

4. Why red lips?
“The societal idea of red lips is prostitution and women looking for trouble,” said Charlene Beukes, investigation and advocacy officer at the Wits Gender Equity Centre. Red lipstick violates this notion and is used to portray a bold statement and signify solidarity and support for victims of sexual violence. Founder, Tansino said “wearing red lipstick allows us all to stand in solidarity with survivors and refuse to be invisible … refuse to be silent.”

Witsies showed their support for the cause in April. Photo: Provided

Witsies showed their support for the cause in April. Photo: Provided.

5. What has Wits done to support the campaign?
Wits University hosted the #RedMyLips event on campus two weeks ago. The event was attended by manyWitsies including VoW FM, the Golden Key Society, SRC members, the VC, Professor Adam Habib and deputy VC, Tawana Kupe and male and female Witsies.

Wits guys also joined in to show their support at the event. Photo: Provided.

Wits guys also joined in to show their support at the event. Photo: Provided.

Witsies wrote message of encouragement and support for sexual violence victims. Photo: Provided

Witsies wrote message of encouragement and support for sexual violence victims. Photo: Provided.

Fellow SRC presidents respond to Dlamini’s axing

The presidents of Student Representative Councils at some of South Africa’s top universities have weighed in the removal of Mcebo Dlamini as president at Wits University.

Student Representative Councils (SRCs) around the country continue to discuss the dismissal of Wits SRC president Mcebo Dlamini earlier this week. While most have reserved their comments for now, others have expressed support for the axed leader.

University of KwaZulu-Natal

While most of the SRC presidents contacted say they are still in discussion over the matter, Dithobe Mosana, SRC president at the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN) told Wits Vuvuzela Dlamini’s Facebook account is a “private space”.

He added that Dlamini was voted in by the students of the university and Wits’ vice-chancellor, Professor Adam Habib cannot “dictate who should be leading the SRC”.

Dithobe Mosana, UKZN's SRC president. Photo: Facebook.

Dithobe Mosana, UKZN’s SRC president. Photo: Facebook.

Mosana felt that Wits students should decide whether their president fulfilled his job well enough. “If students are unhappy they must say the SRC president is not fit to lead in a petition,” he said.

“The SRC is supposed to be a platform where students believe their interests can be represented,” Mosana added.

University of Cape Town

The University of Cape Town’s (UCT) SRC president, Ramabina Mahapa, told Wits Vuvuzela a meeting was held on Tuesday, May 5, with 14 UCT SRC members to discuss the removal of Dlamini.

He added that a statement would be issued by the end of this week but none was available at the time of going to press.

Rhodes University

Siyanda Makhubo, SRC president at Rhodes University told Wits Vuvuzela via email that based on the meeting of his SRC held on Wednesday evening they have “decided to reserve [their] comments FOR NOW.”

Rhodes Univeristy's SRC president, Siyanda Makhubo. Photo: Facebook.

Rhodes Univeristy’s SRC president, Siyanda Makhubo. Photo: Facebook.

He said this decision was made in order to assess Dlamini’s behaviour so they “can be in a better position to critically engage with the situation at hand.”

Makhubo said a follow-up meeting will be held with Rhodes’ SRC on Sunday after which they will release a statement.

“We value and respect the jurisdiction of each SRC and will therefore do our own research in trying to find out about the context and issues following the outcome,” Makhubo said.

The SRC presidents of the University of Pretoria, University of Stellenbosch and the University of Johannesburg could not be reached for comment.

A new conversation launches at Wits

The website theconversation.com launched at Wits University on Thursday. Under the editorship of Caroline Southey, former Financial Mail editor, and her editorial team, The Conversation will re-produce academic papers and research articles on topical issues which are accessible to everyday people. The Conversation is located on the 21st floor of the Wits Art Museum building.

High above the shuffle of the city, in a large round glass-paned room, a new “conversation” launched at Wits yesterday.

The website theconversation.com is dedicated to bringing academic voices and articles into mainstream news and media.

The website, launched in 2011 in Australia, and initially concentrated on Australian news and current affairs. In 2013, UK and U.S sections of the site were also launched, headquartered out of London and Boston.

Caroline Southey, former Financial Mail editor has now launched the Africa section of The Conversation. Southey will work with a team of professional journalists that will re-produce academic papers and research articles on topical issues into news and current affairs content for everyday consumption. These articles will be allowed to republish for free, provided their “republished guidelines” are followed.

Contributors to the site have to be PhD graduates.

“What we bring to the party as journalists is that nose for a story,” Southey said. In what she refers to as a “massive translation service,” the journalists translate the work of academics into understandable articles which Southey said can be “accessible, exciting and interesting”.

Southey spent a year working on the website’s launch after she received the go ahead from founder, Andrew Jaspan.

Professor Adam Habib, Wits’ vice-chancellor and Dr Saleem Badat (former Rhodes vice-chancellor) were the first people to support Southey’s idea to launch The Conversation in South Africa.

The Conversation Africa's editorial team comprises of Caroline Southey and her Photo: Riante Naidoo.

The Conversation Africa’s editorial team comprises of Caroline Southey (standing),  Jabulani Sikhakhane (kneeling), Natasha Jospeh, Thabo Leshilo, Candice Bailey and Edwin Naidu (L-R). Photo: Riante Naidoo.

The Conversation is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) supported by donor funding. Alexandra Storey, The Conversation’s general manager and Southey approached funders in June last year and by December the organisation raised enough money.

Full-time work on the site began in February this year and the complete editorial team joined on April 1. Deputy editor, Jabulani Sikhakhane (communications director at the Treasury), Thabo Leshilo (former editor of Sowetan and Business Times), Edwin Naidu and Natasha Joseph are part of the editorial team.

Southey said The Conversation is the first of its kind to be launched in a developing country and despite being based in South Africa, it will be a continent-wide project. Future plans include opening an office in Nairobi and a West African country in 2016.

The website theconversation.com’s monthly audience is more than 2.2 million users across all current sites and has a readership of 22 million people when accounting for articles that have been republished through other publications.

Southey said Wits was very supportive and Habib has been a strong advocate for the organisation since its inception. The Conversation was subsequently offered office space on the campus and can be found on the 21st floor of the Wits Art Museum building.

A paper plane lands Witsie a trip to Austria

Hangar 7 in Austria awaits Robin Attewell, a 2nd year Mechanical Engineering student. The Witsie took part in the global Red Bull Paper Wings competition in March and won nationwide in the distance category. He leaves for Austria this Wednesday along with two other South African competitors.

His older brother taught him the art of folding paper planes over a decade ago. It was only after a drawing lecture that Wits 2nd year Mechanical Engineering student, Robin Attewell had to recall the strategic folds needed to make paper fly.

Second-year Witsie, Robin Attewell jets off to Austria on Wednesday for the global Red Bull Paper Wings finals. Photo: Riante Naidoo

Second-year Witsie, Robin Attewell jets off to Austria on Wednesday for the global Red Bull Paper Wings finals. Photo: Riante Naidoo

“Back in the day I didn’t ever think this would send me to Austria,” he said.

Attewell claimed his competitiveness came from playing cricket throughout high school, and although he was from a small school, he was up for the challenge.

“Competing on a bigger stage reminded me of our saying at St. Martin’s: We fight above our weight,” he said. “I was ready to show that even if you’re from a small place you can still produce results.”

“I’ve played a lot of cricket so my throwing arm, after 16 years of cricket, gave me an edge,” he said.
He added that being “technically minded” also helped him succeed. “When you fold a plane and it does one thing, having the understanding of why it happens, and being able to make adjustments because of that helps.”

This was the first time Attewell competed in the global Paper Wings competition and said “Going overseas with Red Bull for throwing a piece of paper was the defining eureka moment” for him.

Hangar 7 in Salzburg, Austria boasts a collection of 25 historical airplanes, helicopters and Formula One racing cars. Photo: Herbert Ruhdorfer

Hangar 7 in Salzburg, Austria boasts a collection of 25 historical airplanes, helicopters and Formula One racing cars. Photo: Herbert Ruhdorfer

He heard about the competition during a drawing lecture. “Red Bull cans were taped underneath our desks,” he said, and after he learned the winner would jet off to Hangar 7 in Salzburg, Austria, he decided to compete in the competition which took place at regional level on March, 21 at Wits.

His talent as a right-arm fast pace bowler helped him land first place in the country in the distance category and was the biggest competition he ever won.

Attewell and two other South African competitors fly to Salzburg, Austria on Wednesday, May, 6. They will compete in the global finals against 82 other countries in three categories: distance, flight time and aerobatics.

Attewell said he hopes this experience will help him “get [his] foot in the door” as he would like to partner with Red Bull after completing his Mechanical Engineering degree.

ProjectW describe SRC President’s comments as “criminal”

Wits campus organisation, ProjectW issued their official statement this week in response to the SRC president’s comments about Hitler. The organisation which forms part of the Wits SRC, described Dlamini’s comments as “reckless”, “offensive” and “criminal”, and said they were tantamount to hate speech. 

The unedited version of the statement is reproduced below: 

“Dear South Africa

On the 26th of April the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) Student Representative
Council (SRC) President Mcebo Dlamini/Sisulu made several comments on Facebook,
he further went on to make statements on various television channels . The effect of these
comments was that

• He loves Adolf Hitler.
• All white people have some Adolf Hitler in them.
• Every white person has an element of hate in them .
• Hitler had great charisma and organizational skills and is worthy of admiration

The SRC constitution states in its preamble that
1. The Students’ Representative Council is committed to exemplary student leadership in
defining the African Century.
2. it will uphold and safeguard the rights of all the students of the University of the
Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

The statements made by Mr Dlamini/ Sisulu are in clear contravention of these two guiding
principles . This is not exemplary behavior. The view that all white people have a bit of
Hitler in them is a clear racist attack and is tantamount to hate speech . The University
belongs to all who attend, this includes white students , to perpetuate hate to a group
against students of this university is not the job of the SRC and is not upholding their rights
to dignity and safety.

Section 2 of the constitution of the University clearly stipulates that our founding values are
based on :
(1) Upholding, respecting and promoting the founding values of the Constitution of the Republic of
South Africa 1996 and the rights contained in the Bill of Rights.
(2) Providing democratic, transparent, effective, accountable and coherent student leadership.
(3) Creating and sustaining an enabling academic environment and vibrant student community
striving for excellence, tolerance and respect for diversity.
(4) Representing the best interests of the student community.

It is evident that Mr Dlamini/ Sisulus statements are in contravention with the ideals of the
Constitution of South Africa and are in the realm of hate speech . It is also clear that these
statements are not in the best interests of the University community broadly , they cause
pain and stigma to several constituents of the university and in addition they bring the
University into disrepute.

The comments made by Mr Dlamini/ Sisulu are also in contravention of rule 18 of the
University which stipulate that no student may act in contempt of the University or act in
ways which bring the University into disrepute. In no way can this level of contravention
be acknowledged as justifiable and ProjectW denounces this as rhetorical hooliganism.

The outcomes of which are the endorsement of Adolf Hitler as a role model. The
veneration of his strategic organization is devoid of ethical considerations . The ends
clearly do not justify the means in the case of Adolf Hitler and the statements made by Mr
Dlamini are a celebration of means for the sake of celebrating means. Tactics can not be
examined with adulation if their outcome is to conjugate hate and perpetuate crimes
against humanity .

It is common cause that Adolf Hitler was a promoter of Eugenics , that he was a war
monger and above that a mass murderer. Hitler was anti black , anti homosexual, anti
women empowerment as well as being violently hateful to the Jewish community . The
extent of his evil are traumatizing to even consider. The hero worshipping of such a man
by influential student leaders , especially from a university with the gravitas of Wits can
reasonably lead to impressionable young minds viewing Adolf Hitler as a credible example
of leadership to emulate.

This form of speech is reckless, it is offensive and it is criminal.
We call upon the Vice Chancellor of the University to exercise his powers of suspension
under rule 1 of the Rules for student discipline to suspend Mcebo Dlamini from the SRC
pending the outcomes of an investigation into his original statements and his subsequent
defense of them.

– ProjectW.”

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Wits SRC president responds to VC

Mcebo Dlamini, Wits’ SRC president, has responded to the statement issued by Wits Vice Chancellor (VC) Professor Adam Habib in which Habib’s condemned Dlamini’s recent ‘Adolf Hitler’ comments on a Facebook post. Habib has also referred “Mcebo Dlamini for investigation to see whether disciplinary charges should be brought against him in this regard”.

The unedited version of the statement is reproduced below: 

“Wits University is an anti-black space, built on the sweat and back of black mine-workers who are now long forgotten. The University remembers David Webster, Oliver Schreiner, Barney Barnato and hardly remembers Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, Benedict Wallet Vilakazi, Nelson Mandela, Essop Pahad and many others, alive and others dead.

Wits University privileges white bodies, white thought, white culture and white feelings. In fact, Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib went out of his way campaigning that the university residents are not diverse enough without white students who mostly willingly left residents when more and more black students were allowed into the university.

Professor Habib sent me an email informing me about a formal complaint from “a student and an alumnus about your posting,” and the “charge is of course racism.” He asked that I provide a context of this posting and how I respond to the charge that the posting is racist. I wonder why the Vice-Chancellor asks me to provide context when he has already made a public apology to all white people who are offended by a post I made on my personal Facebook account and subsequently conducted media interviews and expressed his condemnation on my remarks.

Racism is the violent process of black people’s subjugation which requires institutional power to continue the subjugation, something black people in general never had even in the democratic dispensation which gave all whites executive clemency for the mass murder of black people before they even went to court. It’s utterly shocking that given the history of this country that we have not come up with a theoretically coherent view and definition of racism. Racism is not defined to avoid offending white people, so anyone can be a victim, perpetrators become victims and victims become perpetrators.

How could black people be racist? Even after years of racist violence, they met in Kliptown and declared South Africa belongs to all, black and white.

Aldolf Hitler like all whites is no friend to black people but I fail to separate him as a freak of nature from the rest of white people. White people came to Africa to enslave black people, an underestimation of 2.5 million died on their way to America. Not a single person has taken responsibility for this genocide. Black people were violently dispossessed by whites of their land, humanity and dignity through capitalist colonial, exploitation, apartheid and structural racism. No one has taken responsibility for this genocide committed by whites.

History teaches us, that our collective experience as black people with whites have always dehumanized us, robbed us of our dignity, reduced us into permanent visitors in our own land, turned us into migrant labour, perpetual beggars and living copse.

Interestingly during the Rhodes Must Fall campaign and the subsequent defacing of other colonial statures, the public discourse did not highlight the atrocities committed against black people by these white colonialists. The black people that found the statures offensive and the ideas of white superiority they represented were labeled as senseless barbaric criminals who should be arrested. The justification was that despite the white supremacist ideas which these individuals held and the violent land grabs they committed, its heritage and should be preserved. In fact, a handful of whites chained themselves onto the statures prepared to die or harm anyone who dares touch their “history.”

I wonder why Professor Habib did not send a public apology to us black people when a fourth year law student Sinethemba Memela was told by a white student “I will fuckin’ kill you, you black bitch!” when she confronted the student about mocking the accent of a black lecturer? Is it because it was a black student who was racially abused? I wonder why he has not written a public apology to our outrage at the fact that at least 30 black workers outsourced to MJL electrical, a white company by the university have not been paid in months or that they’re not allowed into the library if they want to read and not even allowed to use the public toilets they maintain?

I also wonder how whites in their collective conciseness justify their privilege generated out of the indignity, dehumanization and exploitation of black people. Do they think it’s a coincidence that wherever the white/black dynamic exists, the white is always at the top and black at the bottom or is it because they, all of them in their collective consciousness believe in their supposed superiority and hard work and that black people are simply lazy.

I fear that Wits University punishes black radical thought, anyone who dare offends its white established values or offend white Jews will be punished like the 11 heroic students who put their academic careers on the line and challenged university management for bringing its name and values into disrepute by hosting Israeli funded pianist Yossi Reshef.

– SRC president, Mcebo Dlamini.”

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