PROFILE: Uncovering the township’s untold stories one shot at a time 

A photographer shares her story of using her camera lens to depict the art and magic that exists in everyday life 

Dineo Mtetwa, is a storyteller at heart — whose main interest is to portray the nuances of township life.  

The 25-year old’s collection of images, which are both taken in colour, while others are black and white feature fleeting moments and regular objects that are part of our daily lives – some of which we hardly pay attention to. 

Mtetwa, publishes most of her work on her Instagram, where you can see photographs of people rushing in and out of taxi ranks, minibus taxis on the road or parked, school children milling about in the streets, street vendors, quaint houses and people sitting around in the township and protests. 

Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela, about the inspiration behind one of a recent black and white photo she took of a woman street vendor, walking, while carrying brooms on her head, she said, “umama othengisa umshanelo (the woman who sells brooms) was just walking by. “You don’t know her struggles or her achievements, but you can see the context and the setting”.  

Mtetwa acknowledges that township stories have been told before, but she believes she brings a different perspective.  

She says that it is not a usual occurrence to see images of people like her hanging in art galleries. To put an end to this, she dreams of one day running an art gallery in a township to make her photography accessible to her subjects. 

Born in 1998 and raised in Soweto, Meadowlands, Mtetwa is passionate about the township, adding that, “even if I become a billionaire, I still be coming from Soweto.” 

She holds undergraduate and honours degrees in Bachelor of Arts from Wits. She also holds a master’s degree which looked at the minibus taxi industry, public health and passenger’s pandemic stories in Soweto at the same institution. Mtetwa is now a PhD candidate, and her research is on medical anthropology, focusing on how electricity impacts every aspect of human life. 

She explains that education has changed the ways in which she interacts with Soweto and other people who live there.  She had questions about it that she could not find answers to before she was equipped with research tools. “School has filled in the gaps” she says.   

Social entrepreneur, creative and friend of Mtetwa, Mpumelelo “Frypan” Mfula says that “the mixture of academic understanding, social and intuitive understanding of your neighbourhood, the world and your subjects is powerful”.  

Mfula has worked with Mtetwa from late last year to date, in a project called Let’s Play Outside which is a content development programme that teaches high school pupils from different parts of Johannesburg how to use mobile phones for storytelling, content creation, publication, and monetisation. 

Mfula describes her photography as “authentic” because she has no formal photography training as she started from “a thing of feeling”.  

As a coach for Let’s Play Outside, Mtetwa currently teaches the pupils at Daliwonga Secondary School in Dube, Soweto how to develop a short documentary. 

FEATURED IMAGE:  Dineo Mtetwa in Cape Town. Photo: Supplied


Profile: Like the climate, Dr. Enoch Sithole is one degree hotter

‘When I get into something, I don’t let it go, regardless of how difficult it is,’ says the newly minted PhD holder.  

Lecturer at the Wits Centre for Journalism (WCJ), Dr. Enoch Sithole recently obtained his PhD on his extensive research into media coverage of climate change in South Africa.  

Sithole was born in the old mining town of Barberton in Mpumalanga, in 1965 to a Swazi mother and a Tsonga father. He left Barberton at the age of 12 and went to Mozambique with his dad, spending nine years in the country. Sithole attributes the move to his multilingualism, he is proficient in Tsonga, Swati, English and Portuguese. 

He returned to the country in 1983 and followed his father’s footsteps by working at the same mine in Baberton. “My interest in journalism came under anti-apartheid activism when I joined a workers’ union and became a heavy consumer of news,” shared Sithole.  Consequently, he was recruited at an anti-apartheid newspaper in 1988 called New Nation, he joined permanently as a reporter after three months of training. 

“When I was thinking about my PhD, I tried to find something that would be unique. I could have done my PhD on a purely journalism subject because that is my background.” Sithole decided to research on climate change for his doctorate, noting that the media only covers the topic during conferences or when there are disastrous events. 

His research emphasized that climate change should not be looked at as only existing in the physical science space because solutions to the global issue are also found in social spaces. “If we’re going to involve everybody in fighting climate change we need to communicate. I want to take a subject such as climate change to the masses through journalism and other communication methods,” said Sithole. 

The father of two children and three grandchildren graduated with honours in 2017, a master’s in 2018 and recently a doctorate on April 24, 2023, whilst working as a lecturer at the WCJ. Sithole said the field of journalism is demanding especially when one is trying to complete their studies while working. “One needs to plan their life accordingly, even your family will understand that it’s work, it’s not something you can avoid,” said Sithole. 

Sithole is currently working on a proposal to “determine empirically, not speculatively” why media rarely covers climate change and why people find climate change an elusive subject. This is in addition to a report he wrote for Fojo Media Institute about the inadequacy of climate change reportage in South Africa between 2021 and 2022.  

Programme coordinator at Fojo Media Institute, Jean Mujati described Sithole as a very humble and professional person. She further mentioned that he was recommended by the former WCJ director Professor Franz Kruger. “We [the institute] needed an expert who understood the South African media landscape, [which is] something that we found in Dr Sithole,” Mujati said.  

While Kruger said he worked with Sithole at New Nation in the 1980s. “I appreciate Enoch for his experience in the media, and his insightful way of thinking about issues in journalism. His focus on climate change reporting is timely, and I am very happy that he completed his PhD in the area.”  

“I have my PhD, now it’s a matter of making it work” said Sithole. He further noted that he would love to continue teaching journalism and increasingly combine it with climate change.  

His final words were, “One thing I would like people to know about me is that I tend to commit to what I want to do, I grab hard. When I get into something, I don’t let it go, regardless of how difficult it is”. 

FEATURED IMAGE: Dr. Enoch Sithole posiing for a picture at his office at the Wits Centre for Journalism. Photo: Sfundo Parakozov


Cool Kid: Mbali Shongwe

From navigating personal mental issues to helping destigmatise and claim ownership of one’s mental health: Meet this week’s cool kidMbali Shongwe, activist and founder of the youthled nonprofit, Mindful(l) Organisation.  


Q&A with Kopano Fanasi

Kopano Fanasi is a Wits master in physiology student and South African model. He has a significant ten and a half thousand followers on Instagram, where he has collaborated with prominent South African photographer Cedrik Nzaka. Fanasi spoke about the future of fashion at UP’s Tedx Talks in June 2020 and has modelled for brands such as Dickies South Africa and Diesel, among many others. Fanasi completed his undergraduate degree in physiology and biology at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, located in Pretoria North. 

When did you start modelling or realise you had a talent for modelling?

I started modelling around 2017 but it really started to pick up in 2018. I remember my first ever job was a Nedbank commercial, one of the biggest sets I’ve been on and especially as someone who had just booked a job for the first time. 

Funny story because the set was one that a friend of mine was taking behind the scenes and I happened to be in their snap then got scouted for African Fashion International week. Literally a few days later I was on set for an entire week preparing for the shows… I even had to take a whole week off school.  

To be honest I still don’t feel like an “actual” model because I respect the profession so much that I feel like I haven’t even done enough work to say I am one.

What inspires you your creative energy when going on a shoot

 I’m naturally a dreamer, I fantasise a lot! So, going out for a shoot is an event for me because I channel what I want to feel like and almost create a new person and personality from my imagination fused together with people I find inspiring…so basically channelling my “spirit animal” but with a bit of me in it. 

I won’t lie though it’s very scary because it’s my responsibility to make sure the shots are great…I can have award winning photographers and producers but if I can’t perform the work is going to look whack anyways. 

Actually, shooting for the first few minutes before the camera rolls are the worst for me because I can’t stop thinking about how I need to KILL IT.

Why is it important for you to still complete a degree even though things could work out for your modelling career?

I’m very passionate about medical sciences and medicine as a whole, all that I’m doing now academically is to really get into medical school, the toughest journey ever, really. So, I wouldn’t really say it’s important for me to get an education but it’s more so my passion and that’s probably the sole source that’s driving me to make sure I achieve what I want academically otherwise school? No! I can’t imagine studying towards something else that’s not medicine

How did you gain a following on your social media and how do you use it for your benefit?

I honestly started posting very model-esque and fashion-esque like content and again with really no intention of modelling or have a significant following. I just did it because it was an outlet, I enjoy seeing myself in a picture. 

Also having become an influencer has helped my modelling career in a sense that with all these deals people believe you’re “somebody” and want to collaborate with you etc. So that’s really also how it picked up

What would you like to see innovate in the modelling in the South Africa industry?

I want a more diverse scene, a one that not only books you based on your following or your presence on the socials. I want to see more fashion, serious fashion…crazy productions that really push the envelope because I think we have mad potential.

Would you say that you market yourself as a brand and leverage it in an entrepreneurial sense? 

Oh absolutely, making money from social media and modelling is also what’s keeping me going. Funny story I had a job actually, I worked as a promoter for a cleaning solution and jeez I couldn’t do it! 

So, I promised myself to rather take the risk, leave the job and take social media seriously and make some money to get by. It worked out and I’m super grateful for that to be honest!

FEATURED PHOTO: Kopano Fanasi posing on his instagram page, dressed in Dickies South Africa. PHOTO: Provided.