#Ashies2023: Rising Suns and Bravehearts dunk to glory 

The Lodewyk family crowned the 17th Ashraf tournament champions.

Rising Suns and Bravehearts rose above 40 teams (24 men and 16 women) in over 98 games played within eight days at Hall 29, Wits University.  

In a gripping 40-minute game divided into ten -minute quarters, the Braam Blues seemed to have the upper hand in the first quarter, but the power-hungry Rising Suns walked away with a 75-62 victory over the Blues. 

Coach Clement Kok of Rising Suns told Wits Vuvuzela, “I am happy with the growth that the boys [Rising Suns] have shown, they have been training together since January.” 

The Rising suns dominated pool A throughout the tournament, thrashing all teams including the Wits Bucks on Saturday, April 30. Despite this, both teams topped the pool and qualified for the quarter finals on Monday, May 1.  

The consistent Rising Suns won the quarter finals against Knights Basketball Club and the Semi-finals against Vest Basketball Club.  

The younger brother of the late Ashraf, Tashliem Lodewyk proudly wore a Vest Basketball Club shirt in support of his brother’s former team. He said he could not believe that the tournament was still going strong after 20 years of his brother’s passing. “When we started the tournament, we thought it would be a one -year thing but tonight we are victorious again,” said Lodewyk.  

Contrarily, the Wits Bucks were left feeling blue after their heart-wrenching defeat against Braamfontein Blues. The Witsies opened with two-point field goals, but the Blues swiftly rained on their parade. The Bucks remained hopeful going into the second half although they were down 27-33, but the Blues crushed their hopes winning by 64-37.  

Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the bravest of them all?  

All the way from Malawi were women’s division winners, Bravehearts who were an absolute force to be reckoned with throughout the tournament.  

The team started the game with a two -point field goal against Celtics Finest and tried to maintain their lead through to the end, eventually winning 67-39.  

Bravehearts point guard, Riana Damaris said, “When we started the match it was a bit hard because we were tired after the previous game [semi-final] but we adjusted ourselves.” 

Former Wits Alumni and Celtic Finest player, Modiegi Mokoka said that she is glad that the tournament is expanding towards the SADC region as it helps South Africans to see different styles of play.  

The awards ceremony kicked off a bit later than anticipated due to multiple injuries throughout the games. Handing out the medals was the nephew of Ashraf, Raul Lodewyk and niece Zayaan Devilliers. 

Four women and men were given the All-Stars of the tournament medals. The four women were Lufuno Mutungutungu, Tadiwa Mabika, Modiegi Mokoka and Rachel Ngona respectively. Whilst Neo Mothiba,  Tshiamo Ngakane (Wits Bucks Coach), Emmanuel Shine and Harisson Banda emerged as All-Stars for the men.  

The most valuable player awards (MVP) were won by Riana Damaris for the ladies and Bidza Akoulou for the men’s division. 

FEATURED IMAGE: Vest Basketball Club players defending against Rising Sun’s point guard. Photo: Sfundo Parakozov


#Ashies2023: Wits Bucks balling differently 

 The 17th Ashraf Lodewyk Memorial Basketball tournament returns with ten more teams vying for the win.  

The Wits Bucks (first team) put on a stellar performance in their first Ashraf basketball tournament game on Wednesday afternoon, April 26.  

The Wits Bucks faced off against Wanderers Scorpions Omega and led the game comfortably from the beginning with a thrilling win of 67-28 when the final whistle blew.  

Scorpions Omega’s Ethan Murray was substituted after committing three fouls in the first half of the game. Assistant coach, Thabo Gumede said that he felt like there was a lack of communication and defence on their end.

Wits Bucks player Jacques Mahanga said, “I feel like their [Scorpions Omega] performance was really good; we didn’t underestimate the team although we knew that we’re not at the same level-we still came out with a lot of intensity, and I love our intensity.” 

Wits Bucks player Isira Harisinghe getting ready to strike after being trapped by a Scorpions Omega defender. Photo: Sfundo Parakozov

Wits Bucks fan, Keeyanda Tshipamba said, “It was a very good game for Wits especially in light of their performance in the ICSL internal league, they were not doing so well so this is bringing our spirits up.” 

The Bucks are not anticipating easy games especially since the tournament has grown with a total of ten more teams compared to last year’s 30. Teams compete in either the men’s or women’s division, with a further division into four pools (A to D) which will battle it out over the eight-day tournament. 

With four more games to play, the Bucks need to secure the top two positions in their pool to compete in the finals on Monday, May 1. 

 Young Bucks trailing behind  

A few courts away, the Wits Young Bucks (the second team) lost 45-55, in their first game against the Midrand Heat Basketball Club.  

A game which was meant to be their comeback against UJ Orange Wave on April 26, ushered in a crushing defeat, with a final score of 19-44.  

Going into the second half, UJ was leading 22-11 while Wits player Silas Lyuke, was substituted after a clash with the opponents, leading to a leg injury. The UJ side committed a foul against Matoti Buthelezi and was consequently awarded two free throws, but only netting one.  

UJ coach, Mandla Ngema said, “We didn’t play well at all, we thought it was gonna be easy playing against a second team.” 

Whilst Wits Young Bucks assistant coach, Angelo Quinn said to Wits Vuvuzela, “I felt it was a good game and a good reflection of the [Ashraf] program and it showed that we can compete at a higher level.” 

The Young Bucks have three more games to play in their pool (C) and two of them will be played on Saturday, April 29 against Giant Ballers and University of Pretoria 1st.  

FEATURE IMAGE: Wits Bucks players: Tirivashe Gapara, Jacques Mahanga and Chirag Jashi, congratulating each other after their 67-28 win against Wanderers Scorpions Omega. Photo: Sfundo Parakozov


News24 and Groundup share the spoils at the Taco Kuiper Award

Winners topped 29 entries that lifted the lid on the hidden goings-on in the public and private sectors, report Sfundo Parakozov and Sbongile Molambo 

Leslie Jamieson of The Valley Trust, joint winner Ray Joseph and Taco Kuiper Award convenor of judges, Anton Harber at the award ceremony on April 21, 2023. Photo: Sbongile Molambo

A News24 investigation into the assassination of whistleblower Babita Deokaran and a Groundup expose of corruption at the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) are joint winners of the 2023 Taco Kuiper Investigative Journalism Award.

In the documentary, Silenced, Jeff Wicks details how he dug through 60 000 Gauteng health department emails, phone records and company ledgers to continue the work Deokaran had started exposing corruption at Tembisa Hospital, before she was assassinated in August 2021.  

Ray Joseph’s winning entry on the corrupt dealings at the NLC was the latest instalment in an investigation he started several years ago, and that he has tenaciously stuck to, which resulted in the firing of the Commission’s CEO, CFO and board in 2022. 

The 17th edition of the Taco Kuiper Award highlighted the importance of “ensuring the accountability that is the foundation of good governance, democracy and economic prosperity” and had “seen journalists tackle issues at every level of our society”, said Anton Harber, the convenor of the award, at the ceremony held at the Wits Club on April 21. 

The prestigious award, in which the joint winners shared R240 000 and the runners-up got R60 000, are a collaborative effort by the Wits Centre for journalism (WCJ) and The Valley Trust (the fund created by Taco Kuiper before his death in 2004).  

News24 investigative journalist, Jeff Wicks, accepts his award at the Taco Kuiper investigative journalism award. Photo: Sbongile Molambo

Harber said there were 29 entries, which came from 13 different outlets, including an entry from Wits Vuvuzela by student journalist Tannur Anders, now an intern for news agency Thomson Reuters. 

Wicks told Wits Vuvuzela that the Deokaran project was very challenging as it required an incredible amount of data and processing. “I’m very happy to have been honored, especially considering the shortlist and I hope it’s a tribute to the life of Babita Deokaran, who sacrificed herself to fight against corruption.”  

Joseph said investigating the lottery commission took over six years of his life. “This was a dangerous project. I was reported to the State Security Agency, court cases were launched [against me] and my family was attacked. So, to describe this win, I would say it’s wonderful.” 

The TimesLive team of Tankiso Makhetha, Graeme Hoskens and Aaron Hyman secured the runner-up position for their investigation into the murder of 16 people at the Mdlalose Tavern in Soweto.

“The significance of WCJ’s collaboration with The Valley Trust is that they brought the money to the table and their generosity is making this [event] happen”, said Harber, who also announced his retirement from running the award after 17 years.  

FEATURED IMAGE: Joint winners Ray Joseph and Jeff Wicks with The Valley Trust’s Leslie Jamieson and award judge, Anton Harber, at the Wits Club on April 21, 2023. Photo: Sbongile Molambo


Wits football club made to eat dust  

Witsies efforts to be at the top of the ABC Motsepe League shattered, after a dismal loss this past weekend.   

Wits University football club has lost 4-1 in a match against Soweto Super United (SSUtd) at Sturrock Park in Braamfontein.  

The two last faced off on October 15, 2022, in a tough match at Trezona Park, Roodepoort, where the final score was a draw of 2-2.   

Wits football player Nathi fights off Soweto Super United players in the ABC Motsepe league match at Sturrock Park on April 1. Photo: Sfundo Parakozov

Currently sitting in the 10th position on the Gauteng ABC Motsepe league, Witsies’ hopes of securing a place in the top eight became dimmer in the first half, after conceding three goals from SSUtd players, Benjamin Thando, Thabang Chuene and Lebogang Sentsho, respectively. 

In attempts to counter the stronger rivals, Wits defensive player Bradley Mongwe sustained an injury and had to be substituted before the end of the first half. 

However, going into the second half, the Witsies seemed to be in control of the match in the first few minutes, but were later humbled by SSUtd striker, Walker Jacko, who scored a fourth goal in the 86th minute. 

Midfielder, Saluleko Mathonsi managed to net in the first goal for Wits university at exactly 90+2 minutes, just before the whistle blew. 

The league consists of 19 teams and the top eight are awarded cash prizes. The ultimate winners get around R50 000, and the prize money goes down from position one to eight. The team that takes the eighth position gets R15 000.   

The Wits players went into the match with 45 points, whilst SSUtd was sitting with 59. Separated by 14 points, the Witsies could not secure a victory, or equalize in score to lessen the gap.

With the season coming to an end on May 1, 2023, the loss means the Witsies will not be able to secure the runner up position even if they win the next five matches.   

When asked about the performance after the match, Mathonsi said, “to be honest we started off very badly, in the first 10 to 15 minutes we were not in control of the match, and we were punished for that”.  

Wits university will be playing Pretoria Ally’s Tigers on Wednesday, April 5, at Philip stadium, Soshanguve. Pretoria Ally’s Tigers beat the Witsies by 1-0 the last time they met at Sturrock Park in December 10, 2022.  

The Wits assistant coach Andile Zulu expressed his disappointment on the team’s performance; but said his very hopeful that they will execute better in their next match.

FEATURED IMAGE: Soweto Super United players walking off the Sturrock Park field after their 4-1 victory against Wits univerity football club. Photo: Sfundo Parakozov