Indepth2021: Year of the Student

The in-depth research project, Year of the Student, was produced by the 2021 career-entry honours in journalism class at Wits University.

The class of  22 student journalists was split into four groups and allocated a mentor to oversee their research and production within a specific sub-theme. The feature articles listed below are the result of six weeks of independent work carried out before November 22, 2021.

TEAM HEALTH (with mentor Aisha Abdool Karim)

  • Baptism of fire for medicine students, by Zanolwazi Kunene, (with audio):
    The covid-19 pandemic, and corresponding health restrictions placed on hospitals and funerals in South Africa, have completely changed the way we grieve and say goodbye to our loved ones.
  •  The lockdown of tobacco and the costs of lighting up, by Razeen Gutta, (with audio):
    In March 2020, South Africa imposed a tobacco ban as part of the country’s response to curb the spread of covid-19. This resulted in various behavioural changes among young people, some evident even in the aftermath of the ban.
  • Covid-19 lockdown: A silver lining for homeless youth?, by Amanda Khumalo, (with video):
    A moment of rude awakening, perhaps the covid-19 restrictions can reshape policies and the response to homelessness in South Africa. 
  • Two years online: a higher education review, by Sumaya Mamdoo, (with audio):
    Students have been participating in a hybrid model of teaching by spending more time at home than at university, and this has a deteriorating effect on their mental health and support they have access to 
  • Children’s health takes backseat during pandemic, by Natasha Joos, (with video):
    There has been a significant decline in children visiting hospitals and clinics during the covid-19 pandemic: Could children’s health be neglected in trying to manage the number of infections among adults? 


TEAM EDUCATION (with mentor Bongekile Macupe)



  • Covid-19 skews what it means to be a student, by Matthew Nijland, (with audio):
    The covid-19 pandemic has completely flipped the once-vibrant student culture of universities on its head, impacting students’ social lives and identities in various ways.
  • Christian students overcome covid culture shock, by Rebecca Kgabo, (with video):
    The instability of the past year prompted Christian students to challenge their personal routines and evaluate their relationships with God and their churches.
  • Pandemic triggers lifestyle changes for students, by Ofentse Magudulela, (with video):
    Students are finding that their historical way of living and their future outlook have drastically changed, due to the impact of covid-19 in affecting household incomes.
  • Covid-19 infecting queer students lives, by Tshepiso Ntombela, (with video):
    Covid-19’s lockdown regulations have deprived students of spaces that provide them with a sense of community.
  • Will re-elected ANC improve the lot of Emfuleni pupils?, by Alfonso Nqunjana, (with video):
    The ANC maintained its seats in the Emfuleni municipality during the November 2021 local government elections even though in the past, the party’s administration has hindered the efforts of young people to get an education.
  • Textbooks, toddlers and tantrums, by Karabo Mashaba, (with audio):
    Systems of higher education appear to be designed for childless students who enter university with minimal responsibilities but for parents seeking a qualification, the obstacles are endless.  


TEAM ECONOMY (with mentor Mfuneko Toyana)




The project was coordinated by Pheladi Sethusa. Bongani Khoza was the multimedia mentor and James Beaumont the sub-editor.