Wits Freshers speak their minds

Wits Vuvuzela spoke to new Witsies on campus and asked a few questions: Watch the video to hear their responses to the following questions:

  • Why did you chose Wits?
  • What are you looking forward to this year?
  • What do you think of the ‘friendly feud’ between Wits and UJ?


No resolution for societies

Clubs and societies are still complaining about the “flawed process” surrounding club room re-allocation by the SRC last semester.

Several societies are complaining about the bad state of their club rooms in DJ du Plessis on West Campus while others do not have club rooms at all.

Chairperson of the Mail & Guardian (M&G) Society, Sharlotte Psotetsi, says they have nowhere to hold meetings since their club room in the Matrix was given to Generation Earth Wits. The SRC has not given them an alternative room.

Khomanani Student Society secretary, Themba Ntshenbo, says his society does not have a club room. As a result,  club belongings are kept in his residence rooms. Ntshenbo says they were told by the SRC earlier in the year that they would be moved to Richard Ward after renovations were done. “They said renovations are not complete … plus another society is occupying it,” he says.

Activate chairperson, Brendan Roche-Kelly, says the club room in DJ du Plessis is not in good condition. He says the location of the building is inconvenient for members because it is too far. “We only use the [club] room for storage, we’ve cut down the number of meetings we have per week because it’s just too much for people to walk all the way there weekly,” says Roche-Kelly. “For meetings we negotiate with other societies so we can use their rooms in the Matrix to have our meetings.”

Roche-Kelly says it is unfair that Warp’s old club room in the Matrix is being used as storage space for Silly Buggers society.

Also in DJ Du Plessis, War-gaming, Anime, Role-play and PC, and Card Gaming Society (Warp) member Stephen Sriedman says: “Our room isn’t in bad shape, but the whole building (DJ du Plessis) is in need of maintenance.

“My issue was the way [the process] was handled,” Sriedman says. “We were not given an opportunity to discuss or say anything about being moved.

According to Sriedman, “Tukelo Nhlapo, (SRC head of clubs and societies,)said ‘You are being moved, welcome to your new building’.”

Nhlapo, however, says the process was “flawed because we had to make sure everyone was happy”. He says the general repairs and maintenance of club rooms is the responsibility of the Property Infrastructure and Management Division (PIMD).

“The problem is that no one wants to move … they [Warp] were happy with their move,” says Nhlapo. “I think I was fair… if there is any complaint people must follow proper procedure by contacting the SRC.”

Nhlapo says the SRC does not have the money to renovate rooms. “We don’t have money, the dean of students knows this.”

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Wits societies resisting removal

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Shaka off! Shaka off those stereotypes!

I am Zulu. There, I said it.

I’m not quite sure why it’s such a socially awkward thing to talk about, being Zulu. But every so often, in a social situation, after I confess to being Zulu the almost expected comments that follow are:  “Zulus are so violent” or “Zulus are so rude”. On one occasion somebody said to me: “So, if you’re Zulu, where is your spear and shield?” That last one had my neck in a spasm for several seconds after jerking my head back sharply in utter bewilderment.

Yes, I’ve heard all the clichés about how uneducated and loud Zulu people are. How uncompromising and stubborn we are. Yes, I’ve also been asked why Zulu men feel the need to flood Jo’burg’s taxi ranks. Oh, how Jo’burg loathes obnoxious *Zulu taxi drivers.

I grew up in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal and didn’t really have any exposure to other ethnic groups until I moved to Jo’burg for my first year at Wits. I couldn’t really understand much Tswana/Sotho other than the little I had learned from the soapie Generations.

For the first time in my life I couldn’t just speak Zulu without someone saying how “Zulu” my accent was or, as they would say, “that deep Zulu”. At first I would say: “Well that’s a really stupid thing to say, seeing as how KZN is where the language originated from.” Since I was the original, how could I possibly have an “accent”. Preposterous.

In defending my position I would become agitated and defensive, slurring my words between swigs of alcohol (because this is when most of the conversations would occur). I’m Zulu and I speak the correct Zulu, Jozi Zulu is diluted. Jozi people have hacked our beloved language into something unrecognisable, I would say.

Ahh there she is. The stubborn and uncompromising Zulu in me finally reared its head.

Even my close friends giggle and mimic me when I talk in Zulu. “‘Hawema!’ ” they say, mimicking me. “You’re going all native on us now.”

There are more famous Zulu natives who are better known than I am. They also provoke reactions from people. Recently the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini made international news after he requested R12-million from the provincial legislature to build his sixth wife a palace.

President Jacob Zuma, possibly the most famous Zulu of all at the moment, is nothing short of controversial. His statements on gays, women and minorities feed the chatterers with regular fodder.

I’m not going to make sweeping statements about how Zulu people want to be represented but I will say I have a distaste for stereotypes, as I’m sure most people have. “English people are snooty”, “Christians are judgemental” and “redheads have no souls” are just a few stupid stereotypes that come to mind.

AmaZulu means “people of heaven”. Consider that the next time you expect to see me barefoot with a shield and spear singing the Shaka Zulu soundtrack and thank your lucky stars I’m no avenging angel.

Horny Bucks pin down Limpopo

The Wits Horny Bucks won their basketball match by a large margin against the University of Limpopo (ULM) last Sunday at Hall 29.

The fulltime score was 107-22 to the Wits first team.

The first quarter began on a good note for the Horny Bucks with a 22-point lead.

The main scorers for most of the hour were power forward, Jonathan Van der Bijl, centre Rodney Genga and small forward Clint Koch.

ULM were sloppy in handling the ball and made continuous travelling errors. This resulted in many successful free throws by the Bucks. Van der Bijl wowed the crowd with three successive dunks bringing the score to 64-10 in the third quarter.

Wits were faster than their opponents from the start and settled on an early lead. The same pattern was seen throughout the rest of the game.

The score was 77-16 to Wits by the third quarter thanks to good plays by the Bucks led by Van der Bijl. Despite their 61-point lead, the speed of the Wits play showed they were no less determined to finish off ULM.

In the fourth quarter, ULM only increased their score by two points to bring it to 83-18.

Koch dominated the remainder of the game, stealing the ball and getting rebounds to make successful scores.

With four minutes left of the game there was no hope for a miraculous turnaround from ULM because of the 80 point difference in scores.

The match was the first game in the Gauteng University Basketball League (GUBL) this year. The Bucks’ game with Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) was cancelled due to the unrest on their campus. Their next game is yet to be announced.

“[The game] was good for the confidence of the team. We got the chance try out a lot of different plays and different sets that we don’t usually get to run when we play bigger teams like UJ and UP,” said Bucks acting captain, Rodney Genga.

The Horny Bucks came fourth in the University Sports South Africa (USSA) basketball tournament held in Port Elizabeth earlier this year. Genga was awarded the All Star player award for his spirited performance.

Dreams in poetry

A play that made use of poetical narrative debuted on last Thursday night at the Joburg Theatre.

21 Poets and a Poem told a story of a young man caught between following his dreams and the pressure to conform to society’s expectation of him.

The strong cast of nine young actors delivered the story by using of the conventions of poetry.

The play begins with a song in the dark which is then followed by a non-choreographed sing-a-long including the whole cast.

The story follows Themba Mokoena who tries to reconcile the desires of people in his life with his own desire to be in the arts.

He is berated by his parents, girlfriend and other people in his life to be practical and forget about the arts which bring no money in.

The play effectively combined singing, reciting and acting to communicate the heavy expectations that the main character struggles with.

Themba is silent for the most part but we get occasional glimpses into his psyche in poetic monologues.

Actors walk through the audience while reciting poems to stir them into listening intently.

“In a world where we have to beg to be ourselves,” said one poet as she walked amongst the audience.

The play also touched on the issue of how we treat the homeless.

The play ran until Sunday 12 August at the Fringe stage in Jo’burg Theatre.

21 Poets and a Poem was produced by Youth Development which is a Jo’burg Theatre department that aims to make theatre attending more accessible to all of society.

Bursary students left hungry

Students who are funded by the government bursary for education students complain that late payment dates often leave them hungry and homeless.

Funza Lushaka is a full bursary, yet students complain that the money only arrives in June, “while we starve for the first part of the year”. The student, who asked to remain anonymous, said he was had to write tests on an empty stomach because he could not afford to buy food.

“I was forced to move in with my girlfriend so that she can pay rent and provide food for me.”

Another recipient of the bursary, who preferred to remain anonymous, said: “We are expected to suffer.” When he received his bursary money, all he could do was pay back the friends who had lent him money in the first part of the year.

“If you don’t pay them back you must know you will be starving next year again.”

Besides the late payment, the fourth year student was critical of the way the matter was handled by campus officials. “And when we ask about where the money is we get the most arrogant comments from them.”

Administrative assistant at the education campus, Mfundo Mbatha, said the money reflected in the students’ accounts as early as February, but was “not really there”.  The government’s financial year began in April and the bursary money only became available from June.

Commenting on the complaint about how the matter was handled, she said: “Funza [Lushaka] students are known for being rude … they say:  ‘Where is my money?’”

Graham Hall, an education consultant, said: “The students know the procedures, they must therefore budget accordingly.”  Hall said this was a great initiative by government, who spent R1.2bn on Funza Lushaka bursaries between 2007 and 2011.

Student gagged and robbed

A STUDENT was mugged at gunpoint in the new Science Stadium on West Campus on Tuesday afternoon (17 July).

Sibulele Zide, a BSc student, was held up by two men who stuffed his scarf in his mouth and tied him up.

The robbers made off with his cell phone and wallet that contained his student card.

“The first guy just took out a taser and he put it on.  I thought [he was] joking, I even laughed a little,” said Zide.

“The other guy showed me a gun and moved to block the door and cocked the gun, that’s when I realised it was serious.”

Zide said he started to empty out his pockets without any instruction.

The two men led him to a disabled toilet and told him to lie flat on his stomach. His hands were tied and they took his belt.

According to Zide, the men hung around waiting for another person to rob. Two other students walked in and the robbers then left.

“I tried to make a noise so they could hear me,” said Zide. When the students found him they thought it was a prank at first.

He went to Campus Control and made a statement. He was taken to the police station to open a case on Wednesday morning.

Security on campus

Zide said he found the security on campus “pathetic”. There are no security cameras at the Science Stadium and so he had to rely on his “confused” memory for a physical description of the muggers.

“If there were cameras they would have been caught already.”

Tracking of his student card revealed the robbers exited at the turnstiles near the Jubilee Residence. “The camera there only took pictures of their backs … security is pathetic,” said Zide.

“I lost trust in the security at Wits that day … how do you tell your parents you were mugged on campus? This is the one place we are meant to be safe.”

“Campus Control technical unit is currently viewing CCTV footage … plans are in place to increase the visibility of security with additional patrols, increase the dog unit, introduce a second response vehicle and review and extend our CCTV coverage,”  said the head of Campus Control, Rob Kemp.

Zide said he takes more precautions on campus now after the incident. “I can’t just piss anywhere now … you know how everyone has their favourite toilet. I liked that one, it was nice and fresh and clean.”

Zide said the university had arranged counselling for him with the Counselling and Careers Development Unit (CCDU) on Thursday.

In March, Wits Vuvuzela reported another mugging at gunpoint outside the William Cullen library. The robbers also made their escape at the Jubilee Hall exit gate.

However Kemp said no weapon was used in that incident and a suspect was arrested. He said there had not been an increase in violent robberies on campus this year.


Witsies versus abuse

Gender-based violence and its effects were the main themes of a poetry slam held at Senate House, 18 May.

The event organised by Lawyers against Abuse (LvA) in protest against domestic abuse included Wits poets and dancers.  LvA is a non-profit organisation that provides free legal services to victims of domestic abuse; A number of Witsies actively help with its’  programmes.

A Dance @Wits performance involving just two dancers drew the most applause. The dancers depicted a couple initially in a loving relationship which soon turned violent after the consumption of alcohol. In the end, however they comforted each other and mended their relationship.

But the night was dominated by poets who spoke of “hacking into God’s mainframe”, narratives about women who were victims of abuse and songs urging women to love themselves.

“Gender-based violence is extremely pervasive in our country yet it’s so difficult to talk about,” said Jenny Macleod from LvA. “We wanted to create a space where these issues can be raised in a relaxed setting.”

According to a recent study, 75% of men are perpetrators of gender-based violence and we want to know why, said Macleod.

In addition to this the poetry slam was also held to raise awareness about the organisation and to raise funds through the sale of t-shirts, caps and wrist bands.

“We are hoping to get more students involved in the organisation” said Macleod.


Homeless societies question removals

Some student societies are still homeless following the SRC’s reallocation of space at the Matrix last month.

Representatives of the affected clubs and societies said they were unaware of the process that led to their removal to the DJ du Plessis building on West Campus.

According to the SRC, the allocation committee that decided on which societies would be moved included cluster representatives.

The SRC said the societies elected the cluster representatives. However, none of the societies interviewed knew who their representatives were and how they were elected.

“Who even voted for them?” said Rabia Kamdar, chairperson of the Disabled Awareness Movement.

Leotile Baiphaphele, cluster representative and chairperson of Rag, said he was elected by his cluster of societies in March.

Chairperson of the Mail & Guardian (M&G) Society, Sharlotte Psotetsi, also did not know who her representative was. “We were basically kicked out [of the Matrix], they asked for the key and told us to move our stuff.”

Psotetsi said her society had no means to move their pile of newspapers to West campus and they were still in the Matrix office that now belongs to Generation Earth Wits.

She said she was surprised to see Generation Earth branding on the doors of the Mail & Guardian Matrix office. Her society currently has no office.

“We had to hold our meetings in the white chairs in the Matrix,” said Psotetsi. “I just want to know how the offices were allocated. We don’t have a room right now.”

Tokelo Nhlapo, SRC head of clubs and societies said the M&G application to stay in the Matrix was late and the reasons provided “were not good enough”.

Everywoman society chairperson Tsholofelo Diphoko said the state of their office is “not good”. She said she was aware that it was “up to the societies” to furnish the rooms but they had no money to do so as they were denied funding by the SRC.

Diphoko said the SRC suffered from a lack of planning. “If they want a meeting they tell you about it the day before, then you have to re-arrange your day. It’s always last minute and … it’s an issue.”

Not all societies were unhappy about the move. Students Hellenic Association president, George Patrinos, said he is “happy about the process” and they are moving to DJ Du Plessis on Thursday.

Previously, Patrinos complained about lack of communication regarding the relocations to Wits Vuvuzela.

Tokelo Nhlapo is student in the journalism honours programme which produces Wits Vuvuzela.


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Moving Detours into novelty

YOUNG choreographers and movement students will present experimental, innovative work as part of the first Detours Festival at the Wits theatre in May.

The festival runs until May 26 and hopes to engage movement students with young professionals already in the field.

Wits Vuvuzela caught up with two groups preparing for the festival at the Wits Theatre this week.

One of the groups is from the Sibikwa Art Dance Centre in Benoni. Their performance is titled Unnatural Presence.

Choreographer Freddy Zwane said the inspiration for the movement piece is taken from their lives and the way in which they grew up.

He describes the dance as a mixture of African dance and Butoh, the “dance of darkness”.

“There are many ways of communicating with people, and movement is just one of these,” said Yuhl Headman, co-ordinating manager.

“Many languages can be moved in an unspoken language.”

Roystan Kemp, 3rd year Drama, said he is hoping to gain more skills from the Detours festival.

“We are learning to experiment not only with text but also with the body,” said Kemp.

“Young choreographers need exposure but often lack the resources and experience to attract it,” curator and organiser Jane Crewe said.

“The Detours Festival provides a platform on which to showcase new work and an opportunity for dialogue around experimental movement composition to take place.”

The festival is at Wits Theatre from 9-27 May in partnership with Wits Art and Literature Experience (WALE).


Back to the City

15 000 hip-hop lovers streamed onto the streets of Newtown to attend the annual Back to the City festival on Freedom Day.  Surprise guests Die Antwoord took to the stage in the evening to an enthusiastic crowd.  Popular artists such as Khuli Chana, AKA and Tuks rocked one of the stages.

More live music, skateboarding, film, break dancing, street fashion and gaming were all on offer. Graffiti artists spray painted the numerous pillars in the festival.

“Last year [the festival] was amazing so I was really looking forward to it this year,” said attendee Mesuli Splash.  Splash said his favourite feature of the festival was the rappers. “I loved it when the DJ divided the crowd into East side and West side, u know, the 2pac side and the Biggie side.”

“It was nice but I did expect a little more this year since the turnout last year was so great.”




Photos: Lisa Golden and Zandi Shabalala

Wits societies resisting removal

Campus clubs and societies are outraged over their “illegal” removal from their Matrix offices to west campus – and claim they were given only five days to do so.

Several societies have been told by the SRC they must move to the DJ Du Plessis building on west campus. The societies claim they were not consulted and are resisting the move.

Rabia Kamdar, chairperson of the Disability Awareness Movement said the matter was “not handled with sensitivity” and the SRC showed a “blatant disregard” for differently abled people. “The consultative process was limited to an sms and no formal communication was made with the clubs and societies.”

The Hellenic Society only heard of the proposed move when it was mentioned by the SRC receptionist, said president George Patrinos.

The War-gaming, Anime, Role-play and PC, and Card Gaming Society (Warp) lodged a complaint with the Student Development Leadership Unit (SDLU). “We were not contacted at all…We were basically told to move to DJ Du Plessis and that our room would be taken by [Silly] Buggers,” said club member Stephen Sriedman.

The SDLU told them the eviction was illegal and the society should wait for the SRC to act, he said. A meeting was called by the SDLU between “affected parties” and the Dean of Students.

However, the SRC boycotted the meeting, because they did not “recognise the SDLU as an authority in the matter”, according to Tokelo Nhlapo, SRC head of clubs and societies. He regarded the meeting as “undermining the SRC as a statutory body of the university” and said the SDLU was “more of a stumbling block than a support structure”.

Sriedman said the first Warp heard of the move was at a meeting on a Friday. They approached the SDLU on the Monday, but on Tuesday received an sms from Nhlapo telling them to move by the following day.

They did not recognise the sms as an official communication and ignored it. On the Tuesday, he said Nhlapo threatened to “cut off their locks”.

Asked about this claim, Nhlapo said he had asked Warp for a duplicate key, since the SRC needed a duplicate of all society keys, and Warp’s was the only one outstanding.

He said the societies were moved to DJ Du Plessis as part of the SRC’s plan to create more club activity on other campuses and a panel was convened to decide which societies should move.

“We have spaces on the other campuses and [societies] need to occupy those spaces. The process was a collective and consultative process with all affected clubs awarded the opportunity to object.”

Nhlapo said the allocation committee decided that Silly Buggers was to swap offices with Warp as the society was more active and had more members. The SRC had taken note of the objections made by the Disabled Students’ Society, since they had “genuine concerns” while Warp’s were “not sufficient”.

Kamdar acknowledged their complaint had been resolved after disabled students had demonstrated to the SRC their proposed new offices were not accessible.

Approached for comment, Dean of Students Prem Coopoo referred Vuvuzela to the SDLU. By the time of going to press, the SDLU had not commented on the issue.

Tokelo Nhlapo is a student journalist on Vuvuzela. Because of the conflict of interest created by his position on the SRC, he recused himself from all discussion of this story, and was interviewed in his capacity as a member of the SRC.