Remembering Rustum August

Rustum August 1984-2012. Pic: R. August

Cape Town-based comedian Rustum August, 28, passed away after a short battle with cancer on August 2, 2012.

August was a founder of Starving Comics – a Cape Town-based collective of comedians. He was also known for organising gigs throughout the city and for giving a lot of the new comedians their first opportunity on stage.

The one-liner comedian died of complications resulting from lymphoma early on Thursday morning. He had been diagnosed just a few months earlier in May.

Angel Campey, comedian and friend of August, said that the initial tumor that was found in his chest had disappeared after August’s chemotherapy sessions. “The first chemo-sessions did work,” said Campey. “When asked if he has cancer, August would say ‘No I’m in remission,” said Campey.

According to Campey a second tumor was found near his brain two weeks later but August declined further chemotherapy.

Whilst in hospital, the Cape Town comedy circuit put on benefit shows for August who was a mainstay of the comedy scene. These benefits aimed to help pay off his medical bills.

Wits Vuvuzela journalist and a friend of Rustum August, Simmi Areff, posted this tribute on his blog:

“Rustum August died today and along with him a bit of my comedy and human soul.

Rustum would often tell me: “I want to eat life”. He did. Rustum ate my life and I barely had a slice of his. He would also say: “How do you tell someone you love what they have done with their life?” It is easy: I love what you did with your life Rustum.

Everyone has Rustum moments. Mine can be simplified into three: mince curry, our sisters and a cigarette burn.

“The night I got to perform was special”

Ragazzi had become the new home of comedy in Cape Town and if you were a comedian in Cape Town, Rustum or Gino would not hesitate to put you on the line up. But the night that I got to perform was special.

To get to the gig you had to walk through to the back of an African curio shop on Long Street and take a flight of stairs. As I entered the curio shop I saw a group of Muslim ladies with scarves on standing next to Zulu sandals, necklaces and carved wooden objects.

I’m not into performing to Muslim audiences. I love them but so many of them hate me, so I get slightly perturbed if I see any in a crowd (It’s the judging eyes they lay on you when you open your mouth on stage that gets to me, but this is a story for another time.)” Read the rest of this post on Simmi Areff’s blog.



Semenya seals the silver medal

Caster Semenya claimed silver in the women’s 800m final last night.

Semenya qualified with the fastest time for the final but failed to beat Mariya Sarinova to the gold.

The Limpopo runner lost to the Russian runner but completed the race with her season’s best run of 1:57.23 seconds.

The silver medal was the sixth medal for team South Africa at the 2012 Olympics. Fellow Russian. Ekaterina Poyistogova, won the bronze medal.

Semenya sat at the back of the pack for the first 400m and waited till the final bend to make her move. This had been her plan for the earlier heats which saw her qualify underneath the two minute mark in the semi-finals on Thursday.

Her plan saw her sit last with the final 400m left before she powered her way past the other competitors.

This was Semenya’s second silver medal at a major competition. She finished second at the same event at the world championships last year.

Semenya admitted that she would need to train harder even though she had the guidance of former Olympic champion Maria Mutola as her coach for the games.

The women’s 800m final was the last individual track event.

Road rage assault at Wits

A Wits medical school staff member allegedly assaulted a student on 23 July.
PP Maloka allegedly assaulted Brendon Ambrose, a third year BCom-Law student after Maloka had apparently knocked the side mirror of the student’s car with his own vehicle.

Maloka and Ambrose had been stuck in traffic outside the Empire road entrance to Wits’ main campus when Maloka jumped the queue and “whacked the mirror,” according to Ambrose.

Ambrose said he then pulled over to where Maloka parked to ask for Maloka’s details. Ambrose knew the culprit of the accident was a staff member as Maloka was wearing a Wits medical school employee vest and driving a Wits-branded white Toyota Yaris.

Ambrose alleges that Maloka then grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and threw him on top of the bonnet of the Toyota.

“I didn’t want to hit a staff member while defending myself and risk expulsion,” said Ambrose.

A security guard from campus control, who witnessed the incident, broke up the fight and escorted both Ambrose and Maloka to head office to deliver signed statements.
“Campus control were quite slick and very professional,” said Ambrose.
While being escorted to campus control head office, Ambrose called his criminal law lecturer James Grant who suggested that he follow procedure and lay a criminal charge, if he wanted to.

After recording a written statement with campus control’s investigations manager Michael Mahada, Ambrose laid a formal criminal charge against Maloka. Mahada was unavailable for comment due to the Wits academic and support staff strike.

Mr Maloka was unavailable for comment at the time of the story’s release.
A disciplinary hearing date has not been set yet.

It is the season for transformation

Transformation is the theme at the third Annual South African season held in and around the Wits campuses.

Warren Nebe, curator for the event called “Crossing Borders,” says that this year’s event attempts to address “burning questions” around social poverty, xenophobia and the frustration, anger and hurt that young people embody in this country.

Nebe said that students should attend the event as it “provides a critical context for students to engage in dialogue about the socio-economic transformation in South Africa.”

“The aim of the season this year is to activate young people in debate through reflection and dialogue.” Nebe recommended students to watch the film documentary Why so angry?

“Our hope is that young people will be given the space to ask: Who have we become 18 years into democracy? Why are we so young people angry?” said Nebe.

Nebe said that it was important for students to be given a chance to engage in debate and that SA Season will allow for an expression of thoughts and feelings of an 18 year old democracy.

Nebe said that this year the event showcased a lot of young talent. The major differences compared to the last two seasons of the event are that “the 3rd season looks at the present and the future direction of the country.” The event displays plays, documentaries and an art exhibition.

SA Season: Crossing Borders runs till the 29th of July. The programme for the event can be found on their website at

It’s ok for men to cry, sometimes

There are few moments in life when men can act like girls and cry.

One of these (as everyone knows) is the moment a sporting team wins a major event, with the nation fully behind it. I have concluded that there is at least one other moment when it is okay for a man to cry: when Grey’s Anatomy is on.

Grey’s Anatomy gives men the opportunity to let out their inner menstrual cycle once a week. The scriptwriters, God bless their souls, have developed a wonderful formula. They have managed to create a moment in every episode when you involuntarily start crying.

An emotional script combined with an emotive musical score has created a new, but yet unproven, psychological syndrome. It demands that every person watching Grey’s Anatomy simply let’s go of all ego and manliness…and cries. (Wow, this is going to be weird when I discover I’m the only person who suffers from this).

Crying is not the big problem. Being caught crying is. I suggest you don’t try to hide it. You will make it awkward for the person next to you. Embrace it. Feel the cry. Be one with the cry.

But if you can’t carry that off, lock yourself in the room. Make sure you don’t make a sound, even when your favourite character dies. Otherwise your mother will tell your father and he’ll ask: “Are you being bullied at school, boy?” Only for your mother to remind him that you’re 24 and graduated from university three years ago.

Don’t end your day with Grey’s Anatomy. Watch a comedy, play Sudoku or check your Facebook before saying goodnight to your parents. This is very important, particularly if your walls are as thin as mine. I speak from experience: no-one wants to fall asleep knowing they’re straight, but hearing their sexuality discussed in worried tones from the room next door.

PS: You can cry watching the movies, The Notebook and Remember Me. However, there is no way you can cry for mundane programmes like Gossip Girl.

Witsies homeless and hungry

Students are expected to spend a lot of their time in the university library – but they’re not supposed to sleep there.

Two Wits students have no alternative. They sleep in the library because they have no other accommodation and can’t afford to find a place to stay.

To get a sense of how they live, Vuvuzela spent a night with these students.

Let’s call them Tony and Pierce as they are afraid of repercussions.

Tony is from Lesotho and does not qualify for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). Pierce is from Kwa-Zulu Natal and has had his application to NSFAS denied.

Pierce says the stringent application process for NSFAS hindered him from getting financial aid. NSFAS requires numerous affidavits.

Whenever he went to them his application would be denied because of the required information.

Despite trouble with his accommodation, Tony is adamant about getting his degree but as an honours student he feels the added stress levels.

“I want my degree – it is my dream,” Tony said.

Tony and Pierce were not dishevelled or unkempt.

Pierce looked prim and proper wearing formal shoes, black pants, a golf shirt and a black suit top.

When asked about his neat appearance he said; “Those that have, they look like they don’t have and those who don’t have look like they do have.”

These students often wear the same clothes twice and rely on friends for showers.

On the night Vuvuzela was with them, dinner for these students was two loaves of bread, five slices of ham and one 2-litre of brand cola.

The remainder of this food would be kept for breakfast the next morning.

On other occasions these students attend various events at Wits for food.

While studying in the library these students doze off to sleep. Sometimes they put chairs together to create a makeshift hammock. Tony said they changed libraries often so Campus Control could not disturb or find them.

When they were caught they were forced to sleep under the trees.

Both students do not seem upset by their situation. Tony said they are kept going by the motto “no pain, no gain”.

A report by the Department of Education and Training earlier this year revealed a shortage of student housing in universities.

In 2010, Wits could only house 15% of its students. The report said universities should aim to house 80% of students.

Published in Vuvuzela Print Edition, 13 April 2012

A rude awakening

Bad service from various shops at Wits was reported to Vuvuzela this week.

Students named and shamed various shops at the university, citing grumpiness and rudeness as reasons they do not return to those shops.  Zita Miranda, owner of “The Sweet Park” in the Matrix, is particularly infamous around east campus for the way she treats students.

Jessica Langer, a 2nd year BSC student said the woman in the sweet shop [Miranda] has a sign that reads: “Goods bought elsewhere are NOT allowed in this store. Should you walk in with an item that is sold here you will be CHARGED for it.” Langer walked in with a bottle of water she had purchased from Woolworths, off campus, which resulted in Miranda demanding she paid for the water.

Another student said, “She [Miranda] does not let you buy, she complains and has a bad mood”. Nafeesa Jooma, a former Masters student said, “One day I went to buy ice cream from her. I was picking out different ice creams and looking at their contents when she shouted at me for touching the ice creams.”

Miranda said that she disagreed that students had had these experiences. She said that she ignores the accusations of people that she is rude. She said some people think she is “sweet”.

Bronwyn Gore, a mechanical engineering student said, “the sweet [shop] lady was actually sweet to me today, which is weird”.

Other students complained about “Maya’s” on west campus, saying that “they throw food at you”.

A student from the education campus also explained how a staff member at Bohlaleng Cafeteria shouted at her when she asked for a ten-rand note after she received it in coins.

Caught spray can handed

Graffiti artists painting the tunnel between east and west campus were interrupted by an off-duty campus security guard earlier this week.

The Palestinian Solidarity Committee (PSC) had organised the artists, known as Phloyd and Clark, to paint the tunnel for Israeli Apartheid Week. The security guard, Tatishe Moeng, demanded the PSC members who were present accompany him to Senate House as they did not have written permission.

PSC member Aslam Bulbulia said they did not think they needed permission.

Ziyaad Khan, a student development practitioner at the Student Development and Leadership Unit (SDLU), said students from clubs and societies do require permission to make use of the wall. Khan said the PSC should have followed the correct procedure.

While the PSC members chased paperwork with the Property and Infrastructure Management Division (PIMD), the graffiti artists continued to paint the wall undisturbed by security and without permission. By the afternoon, the “Boycott Apartheid Israel” artwork was up on the tunnel wall.

In case security came back Bulbulia carried an A4 piece of paper stating the PSC could paint in the tunnel issued by PIMD.

Students walked past and admired the mural. The artwork lasted less than 24 hours before it was vandalised. The vandals had blackened out the words “Free Palestine” and “Israel”.

Israeli Apartheid Week runs from Monday March 5 until March 9.