Wonder woman lends helping hand to fellow student

A Witsie gave up her dream of buying an iPad to assist a fellow student with his residence fees.

Nandi Masemula, an honours student in BSc archaeology, gave Henry Masuko R1050 to pay the accommodation office before he moved into South Point residence.

Henry Masuko, who moved into South Point on Tuesday, said Masemula made his dream of staying at res a reality.

“I cannot describe how grateful I am for such a wonderful woman” he said

Masemula, who works part time at the Wits archaeology department, saved all the money she earns to buy an iPad.

She decided that helping the needy is more important than an Ipad. “The only way we can succeed is by helping one another, if we have the means to,” she said.

Last week, Vuvuzela wrote an article about Masuko, who received a National Financial Aid Scheme package which covers both his tuition and residence fee but not the money to confirm his res room.

The first year BA Education student could not move into res without paying the confirmation money, so he had to share a flat with four people in “unbearable” conditions at Hillbrow.

He said the conditions were “unbearable” because he didn’t have a study table or a study room. The people he shared the flat with have children who made a noise while he was studying.

Masemula learned to help those who are less fortunate from her parents, who always aid the needy.

She wants Masuko to have one less thing to worry about in order to study hard and get his degree, she said.

Students mugged on Mandela Bridge

WITSIES are victims of men on the prowl for cellphones and money on Mandela Bridge.

Vuvuzela spoke to some of the victims. First year BA student, Molebogeng Mpakanyane, said she was robbed at gun point by a man who demanded her cellphone and money at about 7pm during Orientation week.

Mpakanyane had met friends for drinks on campus and later crossed Mandela Bridge by herself to catch a taxi to Diepsloot.

The man said he would not hurt her if she co-operated by giving him her cellphone.

“I couldn’t sleep that night; I was nervous,” she said.

Students should ensure that they are in groups when crossing that bridge, Mpakanyane said: “It is not safe at all.”

Mduduzi Sangweni, a security guard at the bridge, said muggings are common despite his presence and that of other security guards 24 hours a day. He said they work hand-in-hand with the police.

Third year BA student, Mmathapelo Khutoane, said she was travelling with a friend from the Carlton Centre to their residence, Jubilee Hall, last year.

Two men followed them across the Mandela Bridge and pointed a knife at them, demanding their cell phones. “Cars passed by but no one noticed we were being robbed,” said Khutoane.

Her friend, who did not want to be named, described the incident as “traumatising”.

” I’ve never walked on Mandela Bridge since that day,” she said.

She said the bridge is not safe and most students, especially first years should be alert as these criminals are “hungry for cash”.

Another student, who also did not want to be named, said she and her cousin were on their way to Newtown where they live when two boys “about 15 years’ old” demanded money and cellphones from them. They didn’t have any weapons but they looked “dodgy,” she said.

For fear of being beaten up or raped, her cousin gave them R50 and their cellphones.

“The boys were cruel; they called us insulting names and even threatened to push us over the bridge after we had given them our belongings,” she said.

“I was scared to death but I thank God they didn’t hurt us. Mandela Bridge is not safe, those people target students,” the 2nd year BSc student said.

Pay up front or voetsak

International students have criticised the Wits fee policy that requires payment in full by registration while the university says its hands are tied by government regulations.

Wits requires international students to pay all tuition and residence fees in full before, or on the day of, registration. The Wits fees policy states: “All fees are due and must be paid in full (Excludes Refugees) before an International Clearance is issued by the Wits International Office.”

Deputy vice-chancellor of finance and operations, Patrick Fitzgerald, said the university is following regulations set down by the department of home affairs.

“The regulations are discriminatory for international students but the discrimination is fair as its standard practice in most, if not all, countries. They are therefore in line with international practices.”

Some international students are unhappy about this policy. “This policy is unfair because they are working on an assumption that all international students are on sponsorships but some of us are not,” Genius Tevera from Zimbabwe said.

Another student, Johnson Senna, a Masters in interactive media design student from Ghana could not afford to pay R47 000 residence fee, R20 120 registration fee and R30 000 for the units he registered for. He now shares a flat in Mildridge and pays R2 450 monthly.

Students who are at Wits for a few months are also required to pay accommodation fees for the whole year. “I am only going to be here for only two months, paying for the whole year is ridiculous,” said Prisca Kamungi. Wits will refund her but they usually take time to do so, she said.

Leatile Seemule thinks the policy puts a lot of pressure on international students like him as he can only afford certain things like rent monthly.

Senna said staying off campus is inconvenient as his flat is study unfriendly as his flat mates sometimes play loud music.

“I would stay at International house if I were given an opportunity to pay in instalments as it is secure and I will be able to have group discussions with my classmates,” said Senna.

Some international students have sponsorships. Felix Urban, a 1st year student who has a sponsorship is not affected by the policy but he wonders how other students afford to pay such amounts of money.

Fitzgerald said most Wits bursaries are for South African students. An international student is defined as a student who is not a national or permanent resident of South Africa at the time of registration.


Student grapples with accommodation fees

A 3rd year student is struggling to pay the “expensive” accommodation fee at Wits Junction.

Lefentse Pululu blames Wits Junction and David Webster residences for “messing with her application”. Webster apparently accepted Pululu’s application last year but Junction advised them to cancel her application as they had a room reserved for her.

“The Junction is expensive compared to Webster, I am frustrated, angry and disappointed at [Wits Junction] for not informing me about this”, she says.

She says her parents cannot afford to pay R49000, which excludes meals annually, and she is clueless as to how she will pay.

Since she had to spend R3200 on transport monthly, Pululu decided to stay at the Junction despite it being expensive.

Henry Masuko, a 1st year BA education student could not afford to pay the R750 confirmation fee and now stays “in unbearable conditions” in Hillbrow.

He says the place is not study friendly as they share a one bedroom flat with four people.

“I think this will negatively impact on my studies, I don’t know anyone who can help with the money”, he says

Masuko received a NSFAS (National Student Financial Aid Scheme) package that covers tuition and residence fees but not the confirmation fee. His mother does not have the R750 fee, as she is unemployed.

Vuvuzela was unable to get Robert Sharman, director of campus housing and residence life to confirm the allegations.



Empty Promises Platform

South Africans are still waiting for tangible promises from their president. With each year’s State of the Nation Address, there is hope that things will change for the best.

As we go to print, the President Jacob Zuma will most likely be in the midst of his 2012 address, but let’s reflect on the previous years:

The State of the Nation Address provides the president with a platform to communicate with the Parliament – and, as importantly, with the people of South Africa.

Opposition parties have criticised Zuma for making empty promises every year. Even though he failed to keep his promise of making 2011 “the year of jobs”, our president does keep some of his promises.

In his address at the ANC’s 99th anniversary celebration in Polokwane last year, Zuma introduced a scheme which entailed students having their NSFAS (National Students Financial Aid Scheme) loans converted into a bursary that wouldn’t need to be repaid.

Yes, he kept his promise as most  students that passed all their courses didn’t have to repay their loans in their final year.

Education is the key to success; government should therefore ensure that our children get quality education. Pupils worked hard to pass their matric but they couldn’t enrol at most universities as there was limited space.

The example of the the mother of a prospective University of Johannesburg student who died in a stampede that saw 20 other people injured is symbolic of the limited access to higher education.

The State of the Nation Address coincides with that part of the academic calendar when first years are still finding their feet at varsity.

These students will soon be looking for employment but their chances of finding it are still slim. Unemployment is still a problem in South Africa; our president must ensure that he puts job creation strategies in place.

Converting a loan into a bursary is pointless if a graduate is unable to find employment after leaving the university.


Witsies doing it for charity

For Wits students, Sibongile Zwane and Karen Tuiton, volunteering work is about giving back to the community and assisting those who are less fortunate.

The two are volunteers at the Holy Trinity church and they help with preparing food, washing dishes and serving food to homeless people.

Zwane, 1st year quantity surveying student said volunteering and community development are important, “they are more about helping my fellow people.”

Working with homeless people has taught Zwane tolerance, “I was a judgemental person but I now learnt not to judge a book by its cover.”

Yvonne Moloelang, who has been working as a project manager at the Holy Trinity church for 32 years said homeless people are like her own children.

She said taking care of the less privileged makes her happy and she hopes they could all get jobs to live better lives.

Forty-two year old Thabo, who did not want his surname to be known, said he started living on the streets after his parents passed on at the age of 12.

He said he is grateful to the Wits students who assist them at the church.  Because most Wits students treat them like dirt, they don’t even greet them or offer assistance.

“Mam Yvonne (Moloelang) is like a mother to us, I stay somewhere in a bridge at Hillbrow but I come to the church everyday knowing I will get food.”

Zwane said people never attach a face or voice to homeless people, and forget that these people have stories to tell.

Third year BSc student Tuiton said volunteering is better than sitting at home and doing nothing. She said people shouldn’t look down on homeless people, “we should treat them with dignity as we are all equal before the law.”

The soup kitchen is the Wits Volunteering programme initiative, its student volunteer manager Isabelle Mphahle, said anyone who wants to donate clothes or food to the homeless must bring them to Holy Trinity church at corner Jorrissen and Bertha Street.

Heritage Day for Witsie’s.


Heritage day means different things to Witsies, while some feel it’s a day to celebrate many different colours in our rainbow nation, other students feel culture is an old fashion notion that’s extinct.

Bachelor of Science masters student, Tlou Boshomane said there is no African but western heritage.

“Africans celebrate heritage in houses built by the missionary, whereas they should be celebrating it in monuments, which are heritage houses, he said

While a student who didn’t want to be named said heritage day means nothing to him as culture is “so outdated”.

I am Venda but can only speak English, don’t think there is a need to know African languages as I communicate with people in English, he added.”

African Languages Head of Department, Dr Mhlambi said heritage is not tied to the language issues. “I believe the issue of heritage is broader to encompass issues of collective racial identity and vision, the African experience or the Black experience and how all of that has robbed us of our racial pride.”

1st year Civil Engineering student, Seane Kanyane said heritage day is an important day in our calendar because we celebrate our historical inheritance, languages, the land we live in as well as the food we eat.

For project management masters student, Thamsanqa Hlongwane, heritage days means celebrating South African unity and diversity.

A Namibian student, Sibusiso Harvey, 2nd year Actuarial Science student, said heritage day means “celebrating our roots and what makes us different from other ethnicities”.

Cuthbert Ramatlo, The Disability Unit editor said, “Heritage day is about the celebration of South Africa’s cultural and traditional diversity and how history has in a way helped all South African citizens to achieve tolerance, understanding and appreciation of difference among us”


‘Cleaners’ strike a waste of time’

Cleaners have returned to work after a five-week strike.

The strike was suspended by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu).

Nehawu union official, Adwin Kolobe, said they called the strike off due to complaints from cleaners.

The cleaners were worried about not getting paid and some cleaners secretly went back to work.

A Super Care cleaner who spoke on condition of anonymity said the strike was a waste of time- her accounts are now in arrears.

She said she had hoped to get a minimum wage of R4 300 as she already made plans on how to spend it.

Second year bachelor of science student Matlaba Pitjeng said the end of the strike is a relief. “The toilets smelt horrible.”

Some cleaners came back before the union’s order. A Carovone cleaner, who didn’t want to be named, said: “I couldn’t take it anymore; I was not getting any income.”

“I have children to support and accounts to pay.

“I decided to come back even though I had to leave at 2pm every day as I didn’t want other employees on strike to see me working.”

The union has rejected the 8% salary increment offered by the employers.

The matter has now been referred to the minister of labour.

Nehawu is waiting for the sectorial determination from the minister.

Albinism is only a difference in colour

Cuthbert Ramatlo was 11 years old when he was pulled aside by the boys in the neighbourhood. They cut him with a razor on his arm to see if he had blood like other human beings.


Ramatlo, now 36, is an albinism activist and an editor at the Wits Disability Unit.


September is albinism awareness month when the department of health educates the public on what the condition is about.


Ramatlo says it is a month where people with albinism should open up and make people aware of the condition.
There are many mistaken beliefs about albinism in South Africa and elsewhere. Ramatlo‘s relatives believed his mother was cursed by having two children, (himself and his brother), with albinism.


But the truth is albinism is a condition caused by lack of melanin pigmentation which affects eye sight.
“One in 30 Southern African black people is a carrier of albinism,” says genetic councillor Merlyn Glass.


People with albinism are often called derogatory names such as ‘leswafi’, ‘inkawu’ and ‘daywalker’. Ramatlo said ‘inkawu’ is a white monkey and “it’s disturbing that people with albinism are symbolised with a monkey”.


However, he says he doesn’t mind being called ‘leswafi’ as it’s just a Sesotho name for albinism.


Sifiso Mbhele, an industrial psychology graduate, says his peers at school called him ‘leswafi’ but “I developed a thick skin at an early age and didn’t take it to heart”.


There is also a myth that people with albinism don’t die but disappear. Mbhele says they are as human as the next person and obviously die as well.


Ramatlo explains there is a “justifiable background” to this myth. In the past, people with albinism would farm without protection from the sun like everyone else.


The sun burnt them until they developed skin cancer and their skin peeled off.
Family members would then hide the person with albinism in the hut until they died.
That corpse wouldn’t be viewed because the skin looked so bad. Community members would then assume the person with albinism had disappeared.


Mbhele says albinism is part and parcel of who he is: “It obviously comes with minor adjustments in my lifestyle like protecting myself from the sun, taking extra caution not to worsen my not-so-good vision and the biggest perk with that is that I get to be chauffeured around for the rest of my life.”


Ramatlo says people with albinism are capable of doing anything anyone else does – the only difference is skin colour.

Wits in the dark over BEE course

THE closing date for enrolment to study at Wits next year was on Wednesday, but the enrolment centre staff knew nothing about the new B-BBEE course launched by Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies.
Enrolment Centre deputy registrar Carol Crosley said she heard about the course on the news.
“I suspect it’s a certificate course, because we would have known about it if it was an undergraduate or postgraduate course,” she said.
The Department of Trade Industry confirmed that the Broad Based Black Empowerment (B-BBEE) management development programme was launched outside Pretoria last Friday.
The course was to be offered at Wits and the University of South Africa (Unisa) and  people could now register for it, the department said.
The programme was aimed at ensuring uniformity and consistency in the implementation of B-BBEE and developing a nationalised standardised knowledge base on B-BBEE.
“The programme presents exciting career opportunities for new entrants into this industry.
Students can now elect to study B-BBEE as a profession,” Davies said.
Forte High School matric pupil, Ntili Motaung, said launching the course is a good move for black people to empower themselves but he had never heard about the course.
Another pupil, Robert Mabopane, said he would have registered for the course had he known about it before submitting his application forms.
Speech and hearing student Gemma Walter said she wouldn’t study the course because she is “just not into business”.
“I didn’t know there was such a course,” she said.

‘R1800 just not enough’


NO WORK, NO MONEY: A single mother of four, Sara Phalane has decided to sell snacks in order to have money since she and other wits cleaners who have been striking for weeks are not going to get played. Photo: sthandiwe mchunu)

Wits cleaners will continue striking until they earn a minimum wage of R4 300 per month.They say the R 1800 they earn doesn’t cover all their expenses.

Forty nine year old Sara Phalane, a Supercare cleaner, says she decided to sell snacks when the strike began to generate some income during the ‘no work no pay’ strike. The single mother of four says she makes about R60 per day, which is not enough for her expenses.

Phalane says the R1 800 she earns as a cleaner is spent on food and clothes bought at a low cost and she can’t satisfy her kids the way she wants to.

“I failed to pay my son’s school trip and he was unhappy. Poverty is ruining my family’s happiness.”

Phalane dreamed of becoming a social worker but her dreams were crushed when she dropped out of school in Standard 3. “I regret dropping out, I feel like I failed my children, but I wish they could get education and better their lives.”

Carovone cleaner Monica Tlhaole says her son blames her for his drug addiction. Her son started smoking nyaope (a drug that contains heroin) after she couldn’t afford to buy him a suit for his matric dance.

 “He calls me all sorts of names when he is high.  He even blamed me for smoking nyaope.

“He once said who am I to tell him to get an education when I am just a cleaner who can’t afford to buy them (siblings) clothes and sometimes food.”

The 38-year-old mother of three says her son wanted to be a meteorologist but “nyaope destroyed his dreams”.

 “I blame myself for my son’s failures, I failed him.”

Tlhaole says she has a matric certificate but could not further her studies because of financial problems.

 Tears ran down her cheeks when she tells us that her son has turned into a thief who even steals from her house and beats his younger sister.

A middle-aged male cleaner who asked not to be named says he feels like he is not man enough because he cannot provide for his family properly.

“I can’t pay lobolo for the mother of my two kids… how can I afford to pay R10 000 lobolo with my R1 800 salary?”

Jubilee fashion show

STUNNING JUBILTES: Wits women’s residence Jubilee Hall held a fashion show to raise money for Boitumelo Home, a shelter for the homeless and orphans in Midrand, last Friday. The fashion show was held at Bozzoli, East Campus, and raised about R5000. Upcoming designers showed off their clothing for free to contribute to charity. These included 23-year-old owner of the label Miss Curvaceous, Matsebo Aphane, and Lefoko Fashion‘s marketing and sales person, Tebello Makgotla . The show was organised by Busisiwe Mbebe, Jubilee chairperson and her team.