Smoking school-goers

A group of boys and girls in gold shirts and green jerseys stand together, some smoking outside a store on Station Street in Braamfontein while others stand around inside the store.

The learners from Supreme Educational College, a school located opposite Wits main campus on Jorissen Street, wander around, play games and smoke during school hours.

In South Africa it is illegal to supply or sell cigarettes to anyone under 18 years’ old but learners find stores willing to sell them cigarettes.

“I was chased [away from school] because of fees and honestly I come here to smoke and to play pool table ’cause there’s nothing I can do,” said a grade 10 learner.

A Grade 11 learner said his class teacher chased him out because of unpaid fees.

“My class teacher said I must not come until my fees are paid,” said the learner.

He said although he was there because he was chased out of school for not paying fees, some learners come to play games. They jump over the back wall of the school to get to the McGenaldine Trading shop on Station Street.

The owner of the shop said he did not sell cigarettes to learners in uniform but only sold to students and staff from college campuses in the vicinity. He also said most came before and after classes.

When asked for his name he said: “It’s not necessary.”

According to another learner, school starts at 07:45 in the morning and ends at 14:05.

“No one is allowed to go out before school is out,” said the grade 12 learner.

Wits Vuvuzela found about 20 students outside the store at Station Street on Tuesday around 13:00.

When asked for comment on Tuesday the principal of Supreme Educational College, Nkululeloko Ncube, asked Wits Vuvuzela to send him questions via email but had not responded by the time of going to print.

Congratulations, it’s a scam!

A Witsie was conned into buying R180  airtime which was meant to activate her ticket to win thousands of rands.

A week after she registered her new SIM-card, she received an SMS saying she had won money from Rica.

“Congratulations! Your number won R250.000 from Nokia-Rica promotions. Ticket no 0166,” read the SMS.

Excitedly she called the number to claim her prize. A man asked her to transfer the airtime to his number to “activate the ticket”. After hours of waiting she called but the cell phone was off.

“I feel so stupid and embarrassed, I guess it’s the love of money,” said the first year engineering student who asked not to be named.

She said she did not want to open a case but she had learnt her lesson.

MTN telephone operator, Zoliswa Nojilana, confirmed the number was registered but said the service provider could not trace the owner or where the airtime voucher was used.

“It’s a scam and the only way to find out is through the police,” said Nojilana.

Warrant Officer Maleka Chauke, from the Hillbrow police station, said the student could open a case of theft under false pretences but it would be difficult to trace the suspect.

“The suspect is unknown, that’s why it’s hard but we can’t investigate if there is no case,” said Chauke.

Wits Vuvuzela called the number from the university. The call was answered by a man who asked where the call was from. He then quickly said he couldn’t accept private numbers.

“We don’t have an office number, give me your numbers,” said the man.

A few hours later this  student received another SMS which said the number had won R120, 000.

“It’s unclear how they get the numbers but customers must be cautious of such texts. Our competitions are advertised everywhere so people would know,” said Nojilana.

UJ student drops rape charge

A University of Johannesburg (UJ) student was allegedly raped by her ex-lover on Sunday. She reported a case of assault to the police, but dropped the charges a day later.

Margie*, 3rdyear BA student said she dropped the charges because she wants Thulani* to study and she felt bad.

The couple had an argument outside the McDonalds in Braamfontein, and then walked slowly towards the South Point Norvic residence in De Korte street.

Thulani was apparently drunk and forced Margie out of McDonalds, according to Lisa Xaba, a Wits student who witnessed the argument. Xaba is also a South Point Norvic resident.“I didn’t really stop him when he took off my clothes but I wanted to go,” said Margie.

She reported the incident at the Hillbrow police station on Tuesday but dropped the charges on Wednesday morning after he apologised.

Constable Jacob Maluleke said he could not comment on the details of the case but this was not a unique case. “Such cases are common especially if it involves alcohol and couples or domestic matters,” said Maluleke.

Although Statistics South Africa shows the high rate of sexual violence against women especially by their partners in metropolitan cities, the conviction rate seems to be lower.

Margie said she wants to focus on her studies and although this was a dramatic experience for her, she will still be friends with her ex-lover.

“I just hope he learns a lesson,” she said.

Thulani did not want to comment.

*Names have been changed.

Related articles: Rape victims turned away from police stations

Res students claim “rip off”

Witsies staying in South Point Diamond House say there is nothing diamond about it.

From the outside, the building looks like any other South Point student residence but female students have to wash in male showers because there is no water supply to their floors. In addition, the building has lifts and stoves that don’t work and an empty first aid kit.

Two students share a room and pay R2, 200 each.  They claim South Point is ripping them off. “Sometimes there’s no water or it’s cold, the lifts don’t work but they put up notices that we have outstanding payments,” said Patricia Mohlala, 1st year mining student.

“Like now I didn’t bath, I just washed my face,” she said timidly.

When Vuvuzela visited the building on Wednesday there was no warm water on the sixth floor where Mohlala stays and only one of the four stoves worked. There was no water on the third and seventh floors either, there were damaged shower doors and only one of the three lifts was working.

“We have been complaining about the stoves that don’t work, the showers and general maintenance but nothing is done,” said Neo Mohale, 2nd  year medical student.

South Point projects and maintenance officer Kabelo Makgala said they were aware of the water problems and repairs were underway.

“It is an ongoing problem. First it was the pressure pump, then the boiler and the electric circuit breaker, but we are in the process of procuring a new boiler,” said Makgala.

When asked about putting up student names for outstanding payments, chief operating officer  Ndumiso Davidson said students had been notified by smses and e-mails before.

“Legally those students have breached the lease agreement by not paying over three months, now we have the option of kicking them out but we hope they will make the payment.”

Davidson maintained that South Point is committed to the expectations they set in the agreement, however some maintenance may take time as procuring external services is difficult.

“We want people to come back but we also need people to be reasonable in their expectations.”

Last year Vuvuzela reported on a water shortage at three South Point buildings in Braamfontein. At the time, South Point said it was a municipal problem although Vuvuzela established another building nearby was not similarly affected.

Published in 17th edition of Vuvuzela.

A labour of love

Despite some outdated information, grammatical errors and no references, How not 2 Fail, a self-published book by a Wits student could just be a useful varsity survival kit.

Jamaine Mithi, 2nd year law, has written a 94-page book which he believes could improve students’ marks.

“No one accepted into university should be allowed to fail,” Mithi writes.

He has sold more than 180 copies of the book, which costs R50.

Mithi is doing his second degree at Wits and he wrote the book to raise money to pay for his degree. Despite advising his readers not to miss lectures as they are costly, Mithi misses a lot of lectures to raise money for his fees.

“I don’t have money outside me raising money, so I have to be more creative on how I spend my time,” said Mithi.

A student who read How not 2 Fail said reading the book was like getting advice from a peer.

“Just knowing how many students get excluded every year and knowing you can do something about it earlier helps,” said Ntokozo Ndimande, 1st year BA.

Mithi said he did not want the book to be academic. He decided to give the advice from a student’s point of view.

“This book is a labour of love. It’s to help primarily first years with all the information they need.”

Mithi normally sells his book outside the Wartenweiler library from about twelve every day.

IN BUSINESS: A student buys the book from writer, entrepreneur and law student, Jamaine Mithi. He wrote the book to help first years survive University.


The picture isn’t looking good

I had a sad smile when I saw the Wits Transformation Office competition for students to submit pictures depicting the University’s transformation. It seems to me that Wits is painting a picture of transformation, instead of implementing its ambitious transformation targets.

To tell the truth, I considered entering the competition, since I could be a richer man by painting Wits as a transformed institution – but frankly it’s not.

I could take a picture of the new science stadium at night to show its breath-taking beauty, or the very expensive new Wits Junction residence. Then again, I could just as easily take a picture of the deteriorating conditions at Wits Esselen residence.

Maybe I could take a picture of the first year students in their brand-new cars. But I could also capture the students crammed into over-crowded buses. Can a single picture tell the whole story of transformation at Wits in its 90 years of existence? I doubt it.

Maybe I didn’t understand what was required, because transformation is a different animal for me.

Transformation to me means the inclusion of previously disadvantaged persons into the university: from senior management, lecturers, cleaners, gardeners and students. There should be equal consideration for their rights as an integral part of Wits. And these should translate into the broader society.

Transformation to me does not mean the division of students according to class, by building a residence costing almost R50 000 a year, when conditions at Esselen remain the same. It does not mean the bad treatment of contract workers. In the past, the children of Wits workers could attend the university. Now, contract workers’ children could barely afford its fees, even if their salaries were doubled.

Transformation means nothing to me if there are students who still sleep in Wits libraries, and surely means nothing if workers use different entrances and exits from students. While Wits maintains its second official language is Southern Sotho, all signs on campus are still in English.

Wits fails to recognise that transformation is not a representation but a reflection, and the picture is not looking good.

Published in Vuvuzela Print Edition, 13 April 2012

“I don’t steal from government!”- Sexwale

Minister of human settlement Tokyo Sexwale has pledged to give R5 billion of the R10 billion he is alleged to have accumulated through corruption.

“If that story can ever be true, I’ll give the first R5-billion to the charity of your choice and you keep the change,” said Sexwale following the Mail and Guardian’s article titled Tokyo Sexwale’s prints all over R10-billion tender last Friday.

The minister was speaking at Wits University at the public lecture hosted by the ANCYL (WITS) on corruption and tendering systems in relation to service delivery.

“I don’t steal from government, in fact I feel heavily underpaid in government but I have money of my own,” said Sexwale.

Morris Masutha, former president of the Wits SRC, asked the minster about the contradiction of him being in government and in business.

“Don’t you think it’s contradictory for a government official in human settlement to have a construction company and [to] chair the same committee that decides where the construction tender goes?” asked Masutha.

Sexwale said he declared all his business interests which meant that none of his companies can get a tender from his office.

He warned students not to believe everything they read in the newspapers and for youth to develop a culture of questioning and being involved.

Sexwale said the slogan of the youth in pursuit for economic freedom should continue to be “nothing for us, without us”.

He emphasized the need for racial tolerance because the youth and society are faced with new challenges.

“The youth must give us confidence that you are ready to take over, because we have confidence in you”

Sexwale made reference to the expelled leader of the ANCYL, Julius Malema, “ke sono neh?” (It’s a shame isn’t it?), he said to the laughing crowd.

Taxi crashes at EOH



A car accident happened right at the door step of Ernest Oppenheimer Hall (EOH) in Parktown on Thursday morning .One passenger was injured and about 1.5 metres of the cement wall was demolished by runaway taxi.

Eyewitnesses said the taxi collided with a silver Corsa Lite. The taxi driver lost control, drove into the cement wall and came to a stop when he hit a tree. The accident occurred at the corner of Victoria and Blackwood Avenues.

The injured passenger sat teary-eyed in the taxi, waiting for an ambulance. The other passengers boarded another taxi and continued to their destinations. The male driver of the Corsa was not injured. He surveyed the damage to his car. A tow truck was at the scene almost immediately.

Mr Nazime Randera, accommodation officer at EOH and head of the Parktown cluster residence said: “No students were injured and the wall will be repaired in due course, while the University would recover their money through Legal Office”.

Campus Control said the accident occurred at around 8.45am. The two drivers made a statement at the Hillbrow police station. The cause of the accident is still unclear. 

“To be professional and revolutionary is one and the same thing”

The South African Young Professional Forum hosted a seminar last Thursday to discuss the role and contributions of young black professionals in South African corporations in relation to transformation and society as a whole.

The panel included Dr Bandile Hadebe, director of Planning and Foresight at the Presidential National Commission, Pitika Ntuli, internationally renowned poet and former Wits lecturer, Bobby Godsell, former Eskom boss who was appointed into the national planning commission by President Jacob Zuma in 2009.

Secretary General of the Young Communist League (YCL) and Member of Parliament Buti Manamela also made a presentation.

Secretary General of Cosatu Zwelinzima Vavi was expected to present however could not come due to other commitments.

Ntuli emphasised the importance of young intellectuals as a significant driving force in society. He made reference to the Cuban revolution which was led by professionals, lawyers and doctors. “There is a critical need for partnership between professionals and ordinary people”, he said.

Hadebe pointed to the need for education. However, he said “there’s no point to education if it does not transform society as a whole.”

Hadebe stated that debate for transformation should not perpetuate racism.

Bobby Godsell, who spoke very briefly, emphasised the need to redefine transformation because having black senior management is necessary but not sufficient because thus far, it is being used cheaply and for political agendas.

After a brief Q&A session, the YCL leader arrived to give his presentation. Manamela said all South Africans can make a significant contribution with or without formal education.

“6 percent of the population owning 80 percent of Johannesburg Stock Exchange…if this does not change it tests the patience of young people, it gives rise to popularism and impractical solutions which will leave our people worse off”.

After his speech the floor was open for questions on issues of transformation. Mosa Motaung a former Wits student said society should not ignore the power relations, such as black professionals getting less salary, poor performance ratings and bonuses than white professionals.

Godsell admited that there is racism in South African corporations however it should be exposed. The forum aims to unite young black professionals in making a unified consolidated contribution to South African coperate and tranforming society.