No Education? “On whose Land?”

The Wits Fees Must Fall movement held a Free Education Live fundraising concert last Saturday, featuring artists like The Brother Moves On, Zethina Moses, Children of The Wind and The Muffinz.

A layer of cigarette smoke lay above the heads of the young radicals, hippies and conscious cool kids of Braamfontein last Saturday at the Free Education Live fundraising concert organised by the Wits University chapter of the Fees Must Fall (FMF) movement.

The Free Education Live fundraising concert is a concept meant to take the struggle for free, decolonised education to the wider public, said one of the organisers and member of Wits FMF, Lebohang Shikwambane. “Also, when we speak about free education we are not solely speaking about finance, or money, or having financial access to education. We are talking about a decolonised education. We are talking about tearing down those walls of colonial knowledge and colonial episteme.”

As part of the programme for the day students of the movement led a discussion into the #Asinamali campaign, the progression of the movement from inception to now and the individual experiences of the students as they navigated and struggled their way through movement and university politics.

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SHARING EXPERIENCES: Sarah Mokwebo telling the story of the formation of the Fees Must Fall movement at Wits in 2015.                                                                                     Photo: Michelle Gumede

One of the most interesting parts of the discussion session was the clarification of the journey of the movement undertaken by one of the members, Sarah Mokwebo.

Mokwebo started from the very beginning, sharing narratives that are rarely heard in mainstream media. She spoke of how the movement initially began, at Wits, as the ‘October 6’ movement which was fighting for the rights of workers in the university space. The following week ‘October 6’ then began a collision with the Wits SRC to shut down the university, under the rallying call of #FeesMustFall and #EndOutsourcing.

She then moved the narrative to the hyper-masculine posture the movement then assumed after former SRC president Mcebo Dlamini and Wits Economic Freedom Fighters chair Vuyani Pambo emerged (or pushed forward – whichever way you choose to look at it) as the main leaders of the movement. The result of two males as the face of movement led the women of the movement to create the #MbokodoLead hashtag and march. The point of this was to push forward female leaders, namely former SRC president Shaerra Kalla and current SRC president Nompendulo Mkatshwa, who are as equally capable as the males leaders and to avoid the erasure of women in the movement.

The unequal power relations that resulted from having leaders aligned to the ruling party, the occupation of the union buildings and the interdicts issued against some of the members of the movement were also discussed in detail.

After the discussions, the performances began interspersed with the loud singing of freedom songs from the crowd.

The artists, The Brother Moves On, Zethina Moses, Children of the Wind and The Muffinz amongst others, performed because, as Shikwambane said, they were “people who also believe in the idea, right? Who believe in a decolonised education.”

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MOVING SOUNDS: Children Of The Wind performed for the ‘woke’ crowd at the #FMF concert.                                                                                                                                                        Photo: Michelle Gumede

The Brother Moves On were as electrifying as usual, The Children Of The Wind moved people with their effortless soulfulness, and as the sun was setting and the heat finally subsiding, The Muffinz lit a different kind fire on stage.

Providing reasons for why they felt it particularly important as artists to perform at the concert, Itai Hakim, guitarist and vocalist for The Children Of The Wind said, “as an artist you know, art needs to speak to the condition of the times… If we [as artists] don’t get together and mobilise the people then what are you doing? what is your art doing? What’s the point? Are you just here just to be popular and just become famous or is there an actual message and a point behind your work and is that point relevant to what is happening in front of you.”

Sifiso “Atomza” Buthelezi, one of the vocalists and guitarists in The Muffinz, said “the fees must fall, there is no negotiations. No zero percent for this year, the fees must fall forever,” to roaring approvals of ‘yes!’ and ‘amandla!’ from the now inebriated crowd. “By prohibiting access to equal education you’re further building this concept of the ghetto … We know we’ve got the brains, but then they say you can’t afford to be here, what does that mean? You can’t afford to be here? On whose land?”

What became clear from the discussions, both inside and outside, was that Fees Must Fall is a contested space. But it is also a space were individuals are allowed the freedom to speak, feel and heal.

*Itai Hakim’s comment added after publication.

 

Division over free accommodation at Wits

Affected students in a meeting with acting Dean of Students Lamese Abrahams discussing amongst other things, the plan to accommodate students preparing for exams. Photo: Michelle Gumede

Affected students in a meeting with acting Dean of Students Lamese Abrahams discussing amongst other things, the plan to accommodate students preparing for exams. Photo: Michelle Gumede

by Masego Panyane and Michelle Gumede

HUNDREDS of Wits students will be temporarily accommodated for free after being left homeless on campus over the festive season, squatting in libraries and computer labs to prepare for their supplementary and deferred examinations.

This comes after the entire end-of-year examination timetable was reshuffled due to the #FeesMustFall protests that rocked the country late last year. Supplementary and deferred exam dates were pushed back to early January and many students stayed on campus to prepare. But many were left without accommodation as residences closed on December 1.

In protest against their lack of accommodation, many of the affected students with the Wits Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Wits Fees Must Fall (FMF) staged a sit-in at the Senate House concourse, also known as Solomon House.

On Monday January 4, several Student Representative Council (SRC) members met with representatives from the All Res Council, the university administration and Wits EFF to agree that students writing deferred and supplementary exams would be accommodated on campus.

SRC projects, media and campaigns officer Mzwanele Ntshwanti said the SRC left for holidays on December 23. When the SRC arrived on campus in early January, they received and processed a list of the homeless compiled by a few students who had been staying in the library, concourse and computer labs.  Ntshwanti said the SRC were already prepared that there might be a situation where a bulk of students would come from all over the country to write their exams.  However, he said preparations stalled over how much it would cost the university.

“Conversations were started, they were just never concluded because the university was like ‘It’s gonna be costly and they were not willing to take the cost’,” Ntshwanti said.

This week’s agreement allows for 500 students, 300 male and 200 female, to be accommodated at Men’s Res and Jubilee respectively. Ntshwanti estimates the accommodation will cost the SRC R181 per night per student.

University officials could not be reached for comment by Wits Vuvuzela as of the time of posting this article.

Vuyani Pambo of Wits EFF said his organisation spent their holidays staging a sit in at Mens res, studying and consulting with students on possible solutions regarding the academic year ahead. Pambo says during their interaction with students it became more apparent that many students were on campus studying and doing vacation work to save up for their fees while being without accommodation.

On December 28, the Wits EFF staged a “let in” at Mens Res, where they opened up the residence for all homeless student which lead to conflict with campus control.

Pambo said they occupied Men’s Res only after attempting, unsuccessfully, to negotiate for accommodation for the homeless students with the university.

Although campus control was called to the Men’s Res, the students were never removed from the res and students are now coming in to sign up for accommodation since the agreement was publicised on social media by both the SRC and Wits EFF.

The procedure is that students have to go to cluster head Doreen Musemwa at Jubilee residence the day before their allocated exam date where their status for a deferred or supplementary exam is verified. Students must then go to the SRC offices to fill out forms and then they can then move into res. Students can stay at res until the day after their exam and will receive breakfast daily at the main dining hall for the duration of their stay.

Third-year mining student, Albert Sefadi* said that learning about the agreement on Facebook, he drove to Johannesburg from Mahikeng to sign up for the accommodation before his exam date. However, he says when he got to Jubilee on Tuesday he found that Musemwa was not around and he had to sleep in his car.

Sefadi was later assisted by the SRC on Wednesday and had completed all his paperwork, ready to move into his room by 10am.

There are some students who are distrustful of the arrangement. Rendani Dumah* a final-year education student and Wits FMF member decided to not take the offered accommodation.

“I don’t want to have the SRC telling people that they did stuff for me when they didn’t do anything,” said Dumah.

As of Friday, the occupation of Senate House has continued despite the dean of students sent the FMF group a letter demanding they leave the concourse.

*Affected students requested that Wits Vuvuzela change their names.

Freeze on fees

 

The upfront fee for next year will remain frozen at R9 350 but it and other fees may still increase in 2016, according to deputy vice-chancellor of finance, Prof Tawana Kupe.

The university had proposed an increase of the upfront registration fee to R10 300 from R9 350. General tuition fees will still increase.

When asked if the freeze will have an effect on the following year’s upfront fee, Kupe said, “In 2015, we will go through the normal processes for setting the various fees, including the upfront fee payment for 2016.”

The upfront fee free was the result of a long process of negotiations by the SRC which reached an agreement with the University Financial Committee (FINCO) surrounding fee increases in 2015, said SRC president Shafee Verachia.

The agreement was reached just over a week ago at a meeting with FINCO, and will be forward for approval to the University Council, which Vice-chancellor Prof Adam Habib, Verachia and Deputy Vice-chancellor, Prof Andrew Crouch, among others.

Verachia said the SRC successfully negotiated the freeze by commissioning a team of postgrad accounting and actuarial science students to investigate whether or not the upfront fee was unnecessarily high.

Kupe said the freeze is based on a further assessment made by FINCO, which has enabled them to recommend that the university is able to accommodate a freeze in the upfront fee and will not lose any income because “the freeze in the upfront fee amount is not a discount on the fees for 2015”.

He said there was recognition that some fees, such as the Health Sciences degrees, Wits has become too expensive and have been reduced. This is especially significant for international students, who were only allowed to pay their tuition fees in a set of instalments for the first time this year.

Currently, international students studying health sciences will have their fees cut by 60 percent, dropping to R74 680 from about R191 990.

The university had previously justified the increase of the upfront fee by saying it had high costs at the beginning of the year. Kupe said fee increases were necessary due to rising costs.

“Fees have to increase every year because of rising costs, the fact that our government subsidy is not rising as much as inflation and that some of our costs are related to items that are imported,” Kupe told Wits Vuvuzela.

“As you know, the rand has fallen against major currencies and this fall increases our costs. We also have to ensure we have enough financial resources to offer a quality education.”

Freeze on fees

FEES FREEZE: Wits has backed recommendations made by the SRC to freeze the upfront fees for 2015. Photo: Luca Kotton

FEES FREEZE: Wits has backed recommendations made by the SRC to freeze the upfront fees for 2015. Photo: Luca Kotton

by Luca Kotton and Roxanne Joseph

The upfront fee for next year will remain frozen at R9 350 but it and other fees may still increase in 2016, according to deputy vice-chancellor of finance, Prof Tawana Kupe.

The university had proposed an increase of the upfront registration fee to R10 300 from R9 350. General tuition fees will still increase.

When asked if the freeze will have an effect on the following year’s upfront fee, Kupe said, “In 2015, we will go through the normal processes for setting the various fees, including the upfront fee payment for 2016.”

The upfront fee free was the result of a long process of negotiations by the SRC which reached an agreement with the University Financial Committee (FINCO) surrounding fee increases in 2015, said SRC president Shafee Verachia.

The agreement was reached just over a week ago at a meeting with FINCO, and will be forward for approval to the University Council, which Vice-chancellor Prof Adam Habib, Verachia and Deputy Vice-chancellor, Prof Andrew Crouch, among others.

Verachia said the SRC successfully negotiated the freeze by commissioning a team of postgrad accounting and actuarial science students to investigate whether or not the upfront fee was unnecessarily high.

Kupe said the freeze is based on a further assessment made by FINCO, which has enabled them to recommend that the university is able to accommodate a freeze in the upfront fee and will not lose any income because “the freeze in the upfront fee amount is not a discount on the fees for 2015”.

He said there was recognition that some fees, such as the Health Sciences degrees, Wits has become too expensive and have been reduced. This is especially significant for international students, who were only allowed to pay their tuition fees in a set of instalments for the first time this year.

Currently, international students studying health sciences will have their fees cut by 60 percent, dropping to R74 680 from about R191 990.

The university had previously justified the increase of the upfront fee by saying it had high costs at the beginning of the year. Kupe said fee increases were necessary due to rising costs.

“Fees have to increase every year because of rising costs, the fact that our government subsidy is not rising as much as inflation and that some of our costs are related to items that are imported,” Kupe told Wits Vuvuzela.

“As you know, the rand has fallen against major currencies and this fall increases our costs. We also have to ensure we have enough financial resources to offer a quality education.”

OPINION: Freedom is not lost

Freedom is not lost

FREEDOM: We stand together, free and as one where no boundaries separate us. Photo by: Zelmarie Goosen

This year South Africa celebrates 20 years of democracy. For some this is cause for celebration. For others, it’s a reminder of how we’ve failed. But take a moment, and ask what this really means and answer honestly to whether or not we really have reason to be so upset.

While no one can argue that South Africa still has long way to go and there definitely are things that should be fixed in our system, isn’t it true that our country is still in its infancy?

It’s easy to focus on the negative, especially with everything that’s happened in the last few months. Our government has let us down, our president has let us down, and it all makes us feel like our ideal of a true rainbow nation can never be achieved.

But Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I can promise you, neither will South Africa. Think about the friends and colleagues you have now, about your Friday night parties or Saturday afternoon braais – we all complain about the same ANC-related problems. And isn’t that, using a certain twisted logic, exactly what it means to be free? Your black friend who brought the pap didn’t make it because you ordered him to – he brought it because he knew you’d like it. Your white boss isn’t yelling at you because of your colour, he’s probably doing it because you did something wrong. And when you fall in love with someone who has a different skin colour, you don’t have to worry about a law keeping you from expressing that love.

This all may sound dreamy and romanticised, but the Apartheid regime wasn’t taken down because of logistics; it was pure humanity that fueled that need. We seem to sometimes forget that South Africa has to rebuild itself and become a completely new nation.

We have to work hard to scrub away what we’ve broken down to make way for the new things we are erecting. We seem to forget that the struggles of 20 years ago is in the past, and the goal of what they wanted to achieve was reached. What we should remember is that there was a certain layer of human issues we had to get rid of before we can really start building towards the future. Isn’t that now?

[pullquote]This all may sound dreamy and romanticised, but the Apartheid regime wasn’t taken down because of logistics; it was pure humanity that fueled that need[/pullquote]

Education, poverty, housing, water supply and safety should of course not be forgotten or downplayed, given the seriousness of these needs. The fact that many people are not receiving basic education or electricity or water is horrible, but it’s also got nothing to do with freedom. We can stare at the facts and the stats all day and say that we’re not free in the sense we should be. But we can also choose to look at them differently and say that we’re not at war (in any way), or hiding from extremists who’ll kill us for our point of view; we’re not bound by laws that take away our rights, or forces us to make decisions. We can choose what we want to do – which is the definition of being free.

Like I said, it’s easy to focus on the negative (a lot easier than on the positive), but 20 years into our democracy we have to remember that all the things that aren’t right, all the logistical issues in our country that we have to fix, and all the problems areas that make it seem like we’re not a nation standing together is not a ‘freedom’ problem. We’re all struggling under a government that doesn’t deliver.

We’re all plagued by the same things we want fixed.

The real hard work may only really begin now. But it means we’re moving forward. We’re going somewhere good, and South Africans of all colour, gender, race and ethnicity have endless choices along the way they’re allowed to make.

And that, my friends, is freedom.

OPINION: How free is free in South Africa?

Visting Constitional Court in 2012.

Inside the Constitional Court. Photo: Provided

As South Africa celebrates 20 years of democracy, the question of how free a country we are remains up in the air. For some, their lives haven’t changed all that much. They can still go wherever they want without question, pick and choose where they go to school, get a good education and generally speaking, live a nice, comfortable life.

But for many- in fact, most, this is not the case. While apartheid laws may have fallen away, the majority of South Africans still live in poverty, do not receive free and quality education and do have access to basic, fundamental rights, including healthcare, safety and security, and housing.

Achievements and failures of SA post-apartheid

Economically speaking, the government has built up its economic policies, but let’s be honest, how much worse could it possibly get than it was during apartheid, when the international community was placing sanctions on South Africa left, right and centre? For the sake of positivity and “looking forward”, let’s just say that our economy is doing relatively well on the whole.

[pullquote]How can I celebrate Freedom Day when so many of my generation didn’t get the opportunities that I did?[/pullquote]

When it comes to education, on the other hand, the ANC-led government has failed abysmally. In 2011, the Department of Basic Education released a report in which it stated the following statistics:

-3 544 schools do not have electricity.

-2 402 schools have no water supply.

-913 do not have any ablution facilities while 11 450 schools are still using pit latrine toilets.

-Over 400 schools in the Eastern Cape are classified as “mud-schools”, many of them consisting of mud and shacks.

While our Constitution prescribes a free and equal education for all, the government has failed to deliver, and, after fighting for almost six years, the minister of basic education, Angie Motshekga finally signed a legally binding document called the Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure. She has been given exactly one year to ensure that these norms and standards are applied to every (government) school in the country.

Despite that small achievement, the issue of a lack of qualified potential employees still remains. An inadequate education system has led to a generation who lack the skills and ability to further their education and many have become reliant on government hand-outs. As well as affecting individuals, this will in time have a negative effect on the economy, when we are not able to compete globally.

Dozens of NGOs continue to fight for basic fundamental rights, especially in the township areas. In these areas, home invasions, theft, gangsterism, rape and murder are rife. Residents have to walk for several kilometres to go to the toilet and sometimes, those late night trips result in violent attacks and crime sprees.

[pullquote]Apartheid may have ended 20 years ago, but South Africa still has a long way to go before we can feel free to celebrate freedom.[/pullquote]

Then there’s public service and the healthcare system. HIV/AIDS has become the number one killer across Africa in the past two decades and South Africa is no exception. While anti-retrovirals (ARVs) have become readily available to those who need it, a lack of education, a stigma attached to the illness and inadequate public service delivery (largely due to corruption) hinder the entire process and people continue to die, untreated, on a daily basis.

Inequality, the biggest problem of them all

Finally, there’s the issue of inequality.  As a white- middle-class student I am not actively affected by it. I have all I need and probably always will. But, as a registered voter in this year’s elections and a proud South African, I see and feel the effects of inequality every single day. How can I celebrate Freedom Day when so many of my generation didn’t get the opportunities that I did? When I’ve visited schools with 100 children in a class? When my childhood home is just kilometres away from a township? When I look into the face of a homeless man, woman or child at every traffic light I drive through?

All of these reasons (and many, many more) make it difficult to feel as if we are a truly free, equal and democratic society. Apartheid may have ended 20 years ago, but South Africa still has a long way to go before we can feel free to celebrate freedom.

 

 

African males worst off in higher education: Gauteng EFF

African males suffer the most discrimination in higher education, the Gauteng Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said on Thursday.

The organisation claimed the share of African males in higher education had been stuck at 28 percent since 2000. The party said it planned on writing a report evaluating racial and gender imbalances in higher education institutions in Gauteng.

The EFF made this claim at a press briefing headlined by its candidate for premier, Dali Mpofu, in Braamfontein.

The EFF said that if it won election in Gauteng, it would immediately implement a 100-day plan that includes holding a “youth summit” made up of young people from across the province.

Mpofu said the EFF would launch “Youth Entrepreneur Centres” that would offer free office space and Wifi access to youth business.

Mpofu said Wifi stations would be set up within the 100 days all over Gauteng, “institutions and centres will have to apply and consultations will be held, we will then prioritise it according to where it is needed.”

Premier Candidate Advocate Dali Mpofu addressing the media on  issues relating to the elections and the 100 day plan for Gauteng.

OPTIMISTIC: EFF Gauteng premier candidate Dali Mpofu addressing the media on issues relating to the elections and the 100 day plan for province.

 

Witsies unimpressed with free flavoured condoms

Witsies are underwhelmed by the new colourful, flavoured condoms which will soon be free from the government.

 This week Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi, announced the new condoms after a survey by the Human Sciences Research Council showed that condom use in South Africa had decreased.

 The survey also showed that boys were starting to have sex at a younger age, young people were sleeping around more and becoming less knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS.

SAY “I DO”: Students think twice before doing the deed using Choice condoms. Government hopes this will change with the new condoms.   Photo: Zelmarie Goosen

SAY “I DO”: Students think twice before doing the deed using Choice condoms. Government hopes this will change with the new condoms. Photo: Zelmarie Goosen

But the new condoms are unlikely to make any change to the sex habits of students, according to a number of Witsies approached by Wits Vuvuzela.

 “Choice sucks and they [condoms] stink, so even if they make them colourful and add flavour to them, it won’t make a difference to me, I won’t use them,” according to Zama Mthunzi, 1st year BSc.

 Aurelia Dako, 3rd year BA, said it was better to use bought condoms than the free condoms provided by government. “To me, the difference is that they [government condoms] are free. A person shouldn’t mind spending [money] for their health instead of getting them for free.”

 Young women say they are sometimes reluctant to have sex using the free condoms, even going so far as to stop in the heat of the moment when their man pulls out a Choice condom.

 On the other hand, one young woman said she would not spend money on condoms and that Choice condoms were better quality than those sold in shops.

 Some of the men said they would not mind using the free condoms if they did not have enough money to buy their preferred brands. The price of condoms varies from R12 to R38 for a pack of three. The most popular brand among young people is Durex, according to the students approached.[pullquote] “Choice sucks and they [condoms] stink, so even if they make them colourful and add flavour to them, it won’t make a difference to me”[/pullquote]

 Despite the different colours and the flavours, young people say they still prefer store-bought condoms because of the texture variations like studded, ribbed and ultra-thin, which students claim makes the sex more pleasurable.

 Choice condoms are available in most campus toilets but, in his statement, the minister said students were not using them. Approached for comment, spokesperson to the minister, Joe Maila, said: “We suspect young people prefer fancier condoms so our department wants to make the Choice condoms more appealing, make them cool and funky.”

 The department hoped the rolling out of new condoms would help control increased teenage pregnancy rates and HIV infections.

 Maila said the department would use the same budget it was granted for the current condoms to produce the new ones. “Even if we use one cent more than our initial budget, this is an investment, we are preventing the spread of disease and creating productive, healthy members of society.”

 Currently 23% of women between the ages of 15 and 49 are infected with HIV and only 14.5% of males between the same ages, according to the HSRC survey, quoted in Business Day. The infection rate among teenage girls between 15 and 19 is eight times higher.

 The condoms will be distributed for free at South Africa’s universities and Further Education and Training (FET) colleges.

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Education campus town hall meeting

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Adam Habib answering questions at the Town Hall meeting held on Education Campus yesterday. Photo  Liesl Frankson

Vice chancellor Professor Adam Habib held his second town hall meeting at the education faculty as part of his strategy to engage with the Wits community following his installation.

Habib was requested to bring the meeting to education campus, following the large number of students that didn’t have an opportunity to ask their questions. “In future, I have suggested we have town hall meetings on East, Education & Medical campuses twice a year.” he said

Habib said as vice chancellor of a public university, he was comfortable being with being held accountable for his decisions. He urged students to “feel free” to pose any questions they may have at any time. The first on Habib’s agenda during the meeting was discussing the new sexual harassment regulations.

Sexual Harassment

Habib apologised to every student and staff members who had been affected by the sexual harassment saga. He said the university tried to act quickly when they were informed about sexual misconduct. “I want to send a very strong message to this campus, sexual harassment will no longer be tolerated at Wits. It’s unacceptable that vulnerable women be preyed upon.”

[pullquote]I want to send a very strong message to this campus[/pullquote]

The university recently fired two academics after they were found guilty of sexually harassing students, and initiated a university-wide investigation into the scourge of sexual harassment. Habib said there are two cases of sexual harassment pending and once the investigation has concluded he will take the necessary actions.

Habib’s strategy

In his address Habib said part of his strategic plans for the university is to ensure Wits becomes a more transparent institution. Habib said one of his biggest plans is to increase research output, through a number of things. Firstly he wants to increase the number of postgraduate students from 30% to 50% postgraduate students for the next year.

Habib plans to put more money into postgraduate scholarships, in the coming years, and also double the university’s existing cohort of postdoctoral fellows. “We are going to incentivise research, staff members will get an increase from R10 000 to R20 000 for qualified research” he added. Postgraduate enrolments boost the country’s research output, but local universities have battled to increase enrolment and graduation.

Habib said two main issues had troubled the school. “One of them is the issue of leadership. It’s been a challenge at multiple levels. The second has been the issue of autonomy. And we are going to address them”

The Highs of Higher Education

Marijuana is a part of campus life a Wits University, a Vuvuzela investigation has revealed.

Wits students and some outsiders are part of the ma rijuana trade at the Walter Milton cricket Oval on East campus.

Here Vuvuzela observed students freely selling, buying and smoking the illegal drug.

A Wits student dealer, who asked to remain anonymous, said he came from a poor background and selling marijuana helped him to get “girls, nice shoes and parties”.

He also said he was “a good guy who gets good grades”.

The student dealer said he led the move of marijuana smokers and sellers from the basketball courts on east campus to the cricket field. He said he sold joints for R10 each.

Vuvuzela asked a student about his involvement. He asked not to be named but was forthcoming about his activities.

The student regularly buys marijuana from dealers on campus. When asked about his concerns regarding being caught by campus control he replied “they only come like every third Friday”.

The student gave his permission to be followed through the process of buying marijuana. He approached a group of men sitting together and asked to buy a “joint” (marijuana rolled in paper like a small cigarette).

He waited for a few minutes for the dealer to bring the joint but he was busy down at the first year parking lot. The buyer ended up buying the joint from another dealer who was not sitting with the group of men.

The lone dealer sat rolling joints as another male stood guard for him while intermittently reading from a Wits library book.

Vuvuzela repeatedly contacted Campus Control by phone and e-mail but had not received any comment by the time of going to press.

 

Q&A with Gundo Mmbi

Gundo Mmbi, 27-years-old, is the principal at SPARK Soweto. Photo: Provided

Gundo Mmbi is a Wits BEd graduate and former Wits Education School Council transformation officer. She is a human rights activist and a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community. She played an active role in the #FeesMustFall movement. In 2017, she became an assistant principal at SPARK Turffontein and is currently the founding principal of SPARK Soweto.

How did a young woman from Limpopo find herself at Wits?
I was told that the child of a cashier will never make it to one of the country’s most distinguished universities. I wanted to break barriers by securing a bursary. I studied hard to achieve acceptance to Wits University and secured a bursary from the housing department to study. That’s how my Wits story began!

You majored in mathematics and English. What factors motivated you to study BEd?
Growing up, I have always been curious about who was setting my exam papers and why the quality of the questions was the way it was. The standard of mathematics in South Africa has been lowered for scholars. Each year, I have watched as the pass mark declines, gradually dropping from 50% to 30%. I don’t think it is the teachers or the scholars, but our country’s curriculum leaders and education officials who may lack faith in our abilities.

Have you always been active in student politics and issues of social justice?
Wits is a world on its own, and you learn a lot there about who you are and what type of person you would like to be. Student politics exposed me to a world of leadership and holding people accountable for what they Wits is a world on its own, and you learn a lot there about who you are and what type of person you would like to be. Student politics exposed me to a world of leadership and holding people accountable for what they are responsible for. I was a shy village girl when I got to Wits until I stood up against my English lecturer when he questioned my gender identity: the activist in me was born.

How did your experiences at Wits lead you to where you are now?
A degree from Wits University enables you to proudly embrace your diversity while being proud of your unique individualism. Wits taught me it is okay to come from Limpopo and be raised by a single mother while fighting for free education.

At 27 you are the principal at SPARK Soweto. To what do you owe your success?
I owe my success to the freedom that was fought for by the people of South Africa. Knowing that their fight for my freedom opened doors to higher learning, I was able to go after what I want with no restrictions or prejudice. I owe it to all the teachers that shaped my life, who ensured that I became the best version of myself and not forgetting “my mother and father” (the National Student Financial Aid Scheme) for the financial support when I needed it.

What led to the move from Turffontein to Soweto?
I applied to be a tutor at SPARK Maboneng in 2015 while completing my degree in education. I then became a maths teacher at SPARK Maboneng and taught for two years. An opportunity to grow into school leadership was offered, and I applied for it. I became an assistant principal at SPARK Turffontein and now founding principal of SPARK Soweto. SPARK Schools has 21 schools across South Africa, and I am part of a group of young people who are changing the face of education.

FEATURED IMAGE: Gundo Mmbi, 27-years-old, is the principal at SPARK Soweto. Photo: Provided

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