Strike leaves a stink on campus

The Wartenweiler library is a mess while the cleaners strike.

Campus resembles one big dustbin as residences, toilets, libraries and lecture halls have been left dirty after cleaners began their strike on Monday.

Wits Solidarity Committee member, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, gave a message of support to cleaners outside Senate House on Monday. “Campus must stink, so that people will know the importance of cleaners; as long as campus is clean, people won’t know how important this service is.”

He said that living comfortably in clean spaces while cleaners are exploited was an injustice, as they are not remunerated properly.

Vuvuzela found dirty toilets and overflowing dustbins all around campus.

3rd year BCom student Mfanelo Mabasa usually  finds the 24-hour section at the Wartenweiler library the only conducive environment to study in, but said the library is currently “unbearable for studying”. He is, however, in favour of the strike as he believes cleaners deserve more pay.

A statement released by Vice-chancellor Professor Loyiso Nongxa said that “the cleaning companies contracted to Wits are to appoint temporary staff to clean both private and public areas at the institution”.

Workers from eight unions march down Jozi streets.

Wits lecturer in the politics department, Dr SP Lekgoathi, has a “please don’t clean this office. No to scab labour” poster outside his office door.

Lekgoathi said: “The place should be dirty so that the service providers can realise we can’t do without cleaners.”  He also said that, as academics, it is fair to support the cleaners.

Simon Skosana, a 1st year BSc mining engineering student studying in Wartenweiler library said he was disturbed by the dirt. “I don’t have a choice because I want to study.”

Another 3rd year student, Gqamile Dladla, said: “Wits should respond and workers should come back, the bathrooms are disgusting”.

These Witsies said the strike had made them realise the cleaners’ worth.

Marching against minimum wage and eight-hour shifts.

The strike began on Monday when unions, including Wits contract cleaners, marched to the library lawns in Johannesburg. The unions want the salaries of workers earning less than R2 400 a month increased to R4200 a month. Other demands include a yearly 13th cheque and an eight-hour working shift.

 

General secretary of the National Services and Allied Workers Union, Sam Mbou, said no official offer has been made by the employers.

Wiseman Dinwa, Hotelicca deputy general secretary, said the strike will continue until an agreement with the employers is made.

 

Amandla!

 

Technology gone mad

   

 

To celebrate my sister’s birthday on Sunday, I met up with her at Cresta Mall. We went for lunch and I bought her a present. Then I went to the First National Bank (FNB) ATM inside the mall to withdraw money. None of the ATMs were working except for one which an unknown presentable guy had just withdrawn money from.

He advised me to withdraw money from that ATM and stood just waited behind me. I asked him to leave as I wanted to type in my PIN. He laughingly said “ga o ntshephi” (don’t you trust me). Then he left and had a conversation with my sister by the bank entrance. The man asked for my numbers but I refused.

 It was a beautiful day indeed, I decided to hit my bed earlier as I was exhausted, then at midnight a nightmare became a reality when I woke up and saw an FNB SMS on my phone. Guess what, someone withdrew R3000 from my account at Jan Smuts Caltex garage, I thought I was dreaming. After a few minutes ANOTHER R2000 from my account -gone.  

I pinched myself and burst into tears when I realised I was awake. Then after five minutes, I received the third SMS. The (thief) had swiped another R1100 at the Bank club in Rosebank. I was furious; even I would never spend that amount of money on ‘booze’.

My friend and I rushed to the nearest ATM to cancel my account. When I got there, the bank had already cancelled it. I called the Fraud hotline and was told that someone copied my card, so he had a duplicate of my card. How he got my PIN, I don’t know. Apparently most people lose their money this way. The guy who withdrew money before me is my first suspect. The police said had I given the guy my cellphone number, he would have received all my SMSes, meaning I wouldn’t have known a thing. 

How is all this possible? I think it’s “technology gone mad”. 

 

 

Male thief caught on faculty of Humanities camera footage

An unknown male who took a students’ phone last Friday was captured on CCTV footage.

During the first week of the second semester, when many students are changing and adding subjects, 3rd year BA student Lebo Mphela, was filling in amendment forms at the faculty of humanities table. When she left after completing the forms, she forgot her phone.

A 3rd year BA (psychology) student who did not want to be named saw the phone and asked a male student approaching the table if the phone was his. He said it was not but promised to leave it at reception.

After realising she had left her Nokia 5800 phone on the table, Mphela rushed back to the faculty. The psychology student told her to ask the faculty staff for her phone as she told the man to leave it there.

Mphela was told no one had left the phone there and was advised to go and view the camera footage at the investigation office in Room 24 of Senate House.

Mphela called her number but her phone was switched off. “What kind of person leaves with someone‘s phone, I didn’t expect this kind of behaviour from Witsies, I am stressed,” she said.

The CCTV camera traced the person who took the phone but his identity has not been revealed. The investigation office will use the snap taken from the camera to find him.

“Whether or not the phone is recovered, I just hope this guy is found. It will help with awareness, people will see the risks of stealing things,” Mphela said.

Some students who have lost phones do, however, get them back. Mmathapelo Khutoane, a 3rd year BA student, said she once forgot her phone at Umthombo Building. When she called her number, a female student answered and gave her phone back.

Petrol strikes never a worry, but relief!

The last weekend of the petrol strike left Witsies with a sigh of relief, with unions having accepted an 8.5% wage increase.

Although most Witsies weren’t affected by the strike as they were on vacation, they said they are relieved because it ended.

3rd year BSc (property studies) Bruce De Gauveia, said the strike didn’t affect him as he filled up his tank a day before the strike. But felt that the strike was necessary and the employers should have been given the percentage they demanded.

While Carovone Cleaning Services administrator, Charmaine Dorley, said although she wasn’t affected by the  strike as she commutes to work by bus, she feels that strikes are not worth it, “ they strike demanding a certain percentage but don’t get it”.

Raeesah Shailan, 4th year BSc (quantity survey) student, “the strike end is a relief, was on holiday luckily, and filled up my car”.

36 year old Sonke gardener, Livhuwani Ravhura, said he didn’t feel the strike as he uses a train to work but is glad it ended.

Tens of thousands of Workers represented by National Petroleum Employers’ Association, the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union, the General Industries Workers Union of SA, the SA Chemical Workers Union and Solidarity began walking off the job on July 11, delaying deliveries and sparking panic buying at service stations in the economic hub of Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg.

Employers made unions an offer of 10% wage increase for workers at the lowest level. However the strike ended with unions accepting 8.5 % increase.

 

100 percent increase or nothing

Wits cleaners will go on strike on Monday, demanding a 100% salary increase while employers are offering 8%.

Cleaners from Supercare and Carovone said they are “fighting for a living wage” of R 4 300. They said they have not received an increase since they went on strike in 2006 when they negotiated salaries of R2 031, before deductions are made.

Cleaner representative, Siyabonga Makhalani, said they are not happy with the 8%  employers are offering them. “We do not want percentages,” he said. 

Makhalani said they are also fighting against outsourced workers as other universities, like the University of Johannesburg, employ cleaners directly.  

Carovone worker, Julia Mahlosi, said: “I get about R1 800 and I am so overworked”. She said she is responsible for cleaning all the rooms on one floor of a residence building.

Cleaners said they are suffering as their salaries do not cover their expenses. Supercare worker Alina Modimolla said with six kids she cannot afford to stop working. “My child complains all the time about the low pay.”   

Speaking last Friday at a meeting of the cleaners and the Workers Solidarity Committee, PYA member Feziwe Ndwayana said: “As the ANC Youth League we are here and saying to all the workers we are in full support of the strike and will be there in numbers.  If it means we as students must mobilise at night we will do it because we’ve done it before.”  

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lysWqQZiSI

Prophet claims to help students pass exams

Exams have come and gone, some students passed and others failed.

Posters of prophets all across Braamfontein claim that they can assist students pass exams.

Vuvuzela

spoke to 32-year-old prophet Moyoza in Hillbrow last week about his claims that he could assist students in passing their exams.

The Zimbabwean-born prophet said: “Failing is caused by the evil spirit like witchcraft and I can cleanse a person from that.”

A student who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “I believe there is witchcraft, I would definitely consult prophets to pass, as long as he is not a traditional healer.”

He pointed out that consulting a prophet does not mean one should not study.

However, 1st year BCom student Sibahle Mkhungo said she had heard of lots of scams about prophets and believed that one would pass exams if they studied hard.

“I don’t need a prophet to pass; I believe in God, if you ask, you will receive,” said Andiswa Mangisa, 3rd year accounting science student.

Godfrey Maja, 2nd year LLB, also believes that one has to study hard, attend lectures and sleep sufficiently in order to pass.

The Hillbrow prophet said he started prophesying at the age of 12. He started having bad dreams, then got sick and consulted a traditional healer who told him he had a calling. His consultation fee is R100 and a healing procedure is R1000 but students get a R500 discount.

Moyoza claims that he has assisted many people who have come back with gratitude.

“I help people from all walks of life, whites, Indians, students everyone,” he said.

Tshwane TV Station

After two years of getting its broadcasting licence, and two years of failing to launch the station as promised, Tshwane TV is finally being launched on June 1st this year.

Tshwane TV was established in terms of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), it aims at establishing a community station that provides access to channels of communications.

“The channel is a free to air terrestrial platform with footprint of the greater region of Tshwane. This means people in Tshwane can tune their TV receive signal by aerial like SABC1-3 and e-TV,” says Tshwane TV, creative director, David Phume.

Khutjo Malebana, 3rd year BA student said, “I am ecstatic about the launch of the station. I reside in Pretoria and will have something new to watch.”

Another BA students, Eunice Kotsokoane says her hometown is in Pretoria, Tshwane TV will give them choice instead of watching the “sometimes boring” SABC.

A non profit community based TV station is committed to promoting social justice, human rights and community cultural development. It also plans to broadcast educational and documentary shows, educational and children’s shows, local community news and local programmes of relevance.

Phume says their strategy is to create a modern brand that people would want to associate with, they went to great lengths in producing on-air imaging and branding that is impactful, eye-catching and of high quality. They believe their viewers deserve good quality television experience.

Kopano Molefe, Tshwane TV CEO says he learned more about business from Soweto TV station manager, Tshepho Tefeng.

“Tshepo reflected on some the issues and challenges that they have come across and gave me good tips, which I intend using when the going gets tough”, he adds

“Tshwane as the capital city of South Africa, it is our responsibility to create a lasting impression on South Africa as a whole. Though we are inscribed as a community television we do not subscribe to geographical edges and stereotypes”, says Phume.

Phume says the station is in the process of developing auditions and workshops which will take place at the Tshwane events centre.

Wits Campus Health refuses to assist patient who didn’t have money

A sick employee of an outsourced company at Wits University was allegedly turned away by Campus Health on Monday because he didn’t have any money for a consultation.

Oricon Environmental Services employee Bonzi Daga, looking sick and unable to talk, sat on a chair at Campus Health waiting for assistance when Vuvuzela arrived at the clinic.

His friend, who was sitting next to him, said they were refused assistance because they didn’t have consultation money.

“We went back to get the money, Daga got worse, we have been sitting here for like 30 minutes without any assistance”, he said.

Campus Health department head Yvonne Matimba said the receptionist told her Daga and the friend wanted to find out how the system works in terms of contract workers who are not Wits employee ,when they first came and went back to get the money. They came back earlier than the given appointment time and the Doctor was busy with another patient who was scheduled earlier.

“We don’t send anyone who is sick away because they don’t have money; we don’t ask about money in an emergency situation, she said.

Other students complained about the long hours they have to wait in queues since the beginning of this year as only two, sometimes one, nurse is working.

1st year BSc actuarial science student, Precious Mamosebo, said: “I have school work to do, I have been in this queue for an hour, it’s procrastination; Campus Health should do something about this”.

Another student who spoke to Vuvuzela on condition of anonymity said she went to the clinic for contraceptives on Monday but was told to come back on Wednesday as there was only one nurse working.” It’s just giving me pills, there is no need for such a drag”, she said.

Tshegofatso Maisela, 1st year chemical engineering, said: “I am on medical aid but I have been sitting here for like an hour, this is totally unacceptable.”

Matimba said: “This is a walk-in clinic; anybody who comes here has to wait, it’s winter time and there is a high demand for health care services.”

Nurses also prioritise if there are more sick people; they have no option but to send a person seeking contraceptives away, she added.

Matimba said Campus Health has had two nurses since the beginning of this year and a post for another nurse has been advertised, but she did not know when the new nurse would be hired.

“If one of the nurses is on leave, there will be only one nurse available hence my involvement in clinical work to assist to relieve the queues,” she added.

Matimba said they work overtime because they take their jobs seriously and sometimes leave late because of emergencies. According to the register, there was an emergency on Monday at 5.35pm when they were about to leave.

‘Racist remarks’ director goes to DC

A DISCIPLINARY hearing into allegations of racism against the university’s property management head by contract workers is to be held next month.

“The allegations will be tested in a formal enquiry in June,” said deputy vice-chancellor: finance, Professor Patrick Fitzgerald, referring to accusations made against Property and Infrastructure Management Division (PIMD) director, Ian Armitage.

The Workers Solidarity Committee again held a demonstration on the Senate House concourse last Friday to demand the release of the report of an investigation into the allegations against Armitage.

“The fundamental objective is to get the university to act on [the allegations against] Armitage. The acting is linked to the report,” said committee chairman, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.

“The issue is accountability on the part of the university, and justice on the part of Armitage.”

At the protest committee member Nhlakanipho Gumede addressed the crowd, calling Armitage a racist and accusing vice chancellor Loyiso Nongxa of siding with whites [contract bosses] and neglecting workers.

He further said they should continue with the protests until Wits released the report, failing which they would go to West Campus to remove Armitage from his office themselves.

“The demonstration was to report back to the people and remind management that we’re still here,” said Gumede.

The committee held a protest two weeks ago to hand over their memorandum of demands to the university.

A contract worker who spoke to Vuvuzela on condition of anonymity said Nongxa is “comfortable in his office” which is cleaned by them.

“We should stop cleaning, [and] see if they will work in dirty offices,” he said.

Ndlozi alluded to ineffective communication being a barrier to the resolution of the disagreement.

“We are not going to resolve this thing if there is no proper dialogue.”

Meanwhile, the PIMD director’s post has been advertised. Armitage, who has been on a one year contract since 2009, will also be eligible to apply.

Workers, staff and students unite against racism

The Workers Solidarity Committee are demanding the release of a report regarding an investigation into allegations of racism against a high-ranking Property and Infrastructure Management Division (PIMD) official.

United in song: Contract workers protesting at the Senate House Concourse. Photo: Anelisa Ngewu

PIMD director, Ian Armitage, was accused of calling some of the workers “k*****s” and “baboons” last November, and the demonstration, organised by the Workers Solidarity Committee,  during lunch at the Senate House concourse last Friday was to demand that the findings be made public.

“At Wits, those who are racist must know that the community [workers, staff and students] say “No”,” said student and committee member Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, addressing the crowd.

“We don’t want another UFS [University of the Free State],” he said, referring to the controversial scandal that brought racism at South African universities to national attention in 2008.

Up in arms: Some of the workers at the protest. Photo: Anelisa Ngewu

Complaints about Armitage’s behaviour had surfaced from a number of contract workers.

Matthews Bodiba, a gardener, alleged that Armitage accosted him as he emerged from a Senate House toilet and told him not to use the toilets as they were not meant for cleaners, especially not for “k******” like him.

Thabo Tshabalala and Lucky Rammalo, two movers, claim that Armitage called them “baboons” last year when they got into a dispute about university rules governing passengers in its vans.  He allegedly told them that he did not have time to talk to “baboons” and would fire them “with immediate effect”.

Investigations into these incidents began last year, but the results have not been released, despite several protests by workers.

Against racism: Supercare workers belting out a tune of protest. Photo: Anelisa Ngewu

 

Nhlakanipho Gumede, a maintanance plumber and Workers Solidarity Committee member alleged that Deputy Vice chancellor:Finance,Patrick Fitzgerald  said  the workers are not part of Wits and were  not entitled to a report.

University management has been given until this Friday to respond to the workers’ demands, which include a call to hold those who are perpetrators of racism accountable. Should they fail to do so, workers will picket again.

Getting down: Supercare ladies singing and dancing in unison. Photo: Anelisa Ngewu

“It is the only language they seem to understand,” said Gumede.

Armitage and Fitzgerald had not responded by the time Vuvuzela went to print.

Student gets R5000 for donating her eggs

Wits students are turning to egg donation for quick money to pay for things they need and can’t afford. Others are doing it to help couples who need a baby.

A Wits student, who spoke to Vuvuzela on condition of anonymity, says she donated eggs twice for the money. “I wanted to buy myself a microwave and a fridge, and I thought egg donation was the best way to get money.

“It was a difficult decision to make but it was better than stealing it or sleeping with a man for money,” she said.

A woman can provide one or several (usually 10-15) eggs which will be inserted into another woman’s womb together with a man’s sperm to impregnate her.

The egg donor is required to do two blood tests. An HIV test and an NMH test which checks eggs reserve, which is whether a woman‘s egg can conceive and physical well being. She also has to have an assessment done with a psychologist who will explain the entire process to her.

Another student, studying for her BA says she was touched by an article she read about a woman whose marriage was falling apart because she was infertile and desperately needed a baby to save it. The student decided to go to Med Fem clinic in Sandton for the procedure.

“I decided one day that I want to give a woman in a [similar] situation as the woman I read about a precious gift, a baby. I didn’t do it for the money.” she said.

For two weeks the donor will be injected daily with a fertilizer which eventually allows her body to be ready for the egg to be extracted.

Glenda Sigh, manager of DonorLife, said: “She should also take good care of herself, which includes eating healthy food and drinking lots of water as the injection can dehydrate her body”,

According to research  by author  David K. Gardner  the egg donor may suffer complications which can arise from In vitro Fertilization (IVF) such as bleeding from  recovery procedure and reaction to the hormones including ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome and, rarely, liver failure.

But Sigh says: “There are no risks involved as long as the donor takes good care of herself”.

South African legislation requires that the identity of egg donors not be disclosed according to the Human Tissue Act.

Pay up now or have no car later

If you don’t pay this car guard on Jorissen Street before you park, you might come back to a vacant spot, like one Zambian radio student found out this week.

A Zambian student received a Johannesburg welcome hen he looked through the University Corner window on the ninth floor and his Toyota was gone.

Jason Kruger, a student studying towards an advanced certificate in radio, parked his car at the corner of Jan Smuts and Jorissen at 8am on Tuesday morning. Kruger says the car guard wasn’t there when he parked and in the afternoon his car was missing.

Patrick Genu, a car guard opposite University Corner, says he looks after cars from 8am till 4pm. He says drivers must pay him before parking or he won’t look after their cars.

“I won’t even call the police if I see your car being stolen, if you don’t pay me before you park”.

Genu says that he has heard of many cars being stolen in Jorissen Street, but he had never witnessed the theft.

“I always park my car by the Senate House parking and pay about R4 but the parking was unfortunately full on that particular day,” Kruger says.

He says he contacted campus control. They were helpful and they offered to take him to the Hillbrow police station.

He then reported the crime to the Honeydew police station and they took his statement and sent him his docket number on Wednesday morning.

Jimmy Mthethwa, a security guard at University Corner, says he once witnessed an attempt to steal a car last year in Jorissen Street parking and he called the owner of the car and the police. The thieves noticed that he saw them and ran away.

“They were long gone when the police arrived,” he says.

On the other hand, a car guard at the Senate House parking, Godffrey Nkosi says he has worked there for 10 years and no car under his surveillance was stolen. He also says that some drivers pay him before parking whereas others pay after and he doesn’t mind that.

“Come park at Godffrey’s garage and your car will be safe”, he adds.

Kruger says there is theft in Zambia but not as much as in South Africa.

“I felt that my personal property and public space was violated.”