Barnato’s academic dinner falls short of expectations

A night of rewarding hard work and academic excellence turned sour, as not all students received their certificates of achievement.  

Current and former residents of Barnato Hall who did exceptionally well in the 2022 academic year, left Convocation dining hall on West Campus empty handed at the residence’s 2023 academic dinner on Friday, August 4. 

The annual event started off well, with guest speaker, Theresa Oakley Smith, regaling the room with the history of the residence and her experience as its first warden in the 1980s.  

“[Barnato] was the first res that was mixed race and mixed gender,” she said, adding that it was foreign at the time because of the racial segregation that existed in the country under Apartheid laws.  

The first round of award giving began shortly after Smith got off stage. At the time, the dinner seemed to have started going well as everyone that got on stage received their certificate and took a picture with the current warden, Millicent Motheogane. 

The second guest speaker and masters in computer sciences student, Phindulo Makhado (24) said Barnato resident helped him socially and academically.  

“I am a living testament to the power of academic diversity and cross-disciplinary exploration [from Barnato],” he said.  

The more happier students – Gontse Maleka (22) and Glet Thwala (22) – who received their certificates of achievement at Barnato’s 2023 academic dinner that was held at Convocation dining hall. Photo: Otsile Swaratlhe

It was only after dinner service that the event took a turn. Chairperson of Barnato’s House Committee, Siphesinhle Shiba (22) got up on stage to handout the remaining certificates. However, the certificates she had were less than the students that were still waiting to receive.  

“We are still waiting for some certificates and the names that I will be calling now will not be receiving any tonight, but they can come and take a picture with a [decoy] certificate we have here,’ Shiba eventually announced. 

Some students opted not to go on stage for the picture as they felt it was pointless. A disgruntled theatre and performance arts student, Sanele Radebe (24) told Wits Vuvuzela, “I feel like I have been played [because] I am looking [nice] and the thing that I came here for is not here. Might as well not take a picture with that [fake] thing.” 

When asked about what the cause for this could be, Shiba (22) could not allow anyone in her committee to take the fall as she claimed that this was the printing company’s fault. “[The academic officer] submitted everything on time and the latest information was sent by Wednesday,” she told Wits Vuvuzela

Student of the night and Barnato’s 2022 highest achiever, Katlego Mashiane’s light could not be dimmed by the residence’s poor planning. Having passed last year with an average of 83.43%, Mashiane received a special award for her achievements and said, “I am overjoyed, it has been one hectic year.” Despite the earlier disappointment, most students stayed on until decided to the dinner officially ended. 

FEATURED IMAGE: A copy of the certificates of achievement that were being awarded to the students in attendance of the academic dinner. Photo: Otsile Swaratlhe


Top res students rewarded

HARD work has paid off for Witsies who lived in residence and excelled academically last year.

Claude Vergie , assistant registrar in the west campus cluster, said res students had the academic edge over day students because of the accessibility of resources and ability to collaborate with other students.

Deputy Vice Chancellor: Academic, Professor Yunus Ballim, said  awardees were in a privileged historical position: “It took us way too long to get rid of apartheid […] your generation must not make the same mistakes we made.”

Noma Radebe, producer of SABC 1’s Ek se Lalela, said awardees should not make their success  about themselves. She advised them to give back: “Literally, even if it means standing up in a bus for an older person or someone that looks tired.”

Top achievers from Men’s Res and Jubilee Hall were hosted at the recently refurbished main dining hall for their joint dinner last Friday.

Reginald Matamela, a 3rd year mining engineering student, bagged nine As and emerged as the top student from Men’s Res. He said discipline and making the right decisions drove his success.

“I chose my girlfriend really well, who’s very supportive, and understands what I have to do.”

With his trophy in hand, Reginald Matamela celebrates his achievement as the top student from Men's Res. He achieved nine As in last year's exams.

Nomsa Mlambo, a 2nd year accounting science student, said it was hard in the beginning of her first year, but getting into a study group and going through past exam papers made studying “fun”.

Vergie advised the students to embrace the principle of life-long learning.

“It’s really just unlocking the door to greater success. They shouldn’t just sit back and think they’ve achieved it all.”

The res dinner formed part of a series of academic dinners occurring across campus in March.