Wits solar car takes on long distance challenge

LIGHTYEAR: The Wits solar car will race from Pretoria to Cape Town starting Saturday September 27, the winning car must travel the longest distance in eight days. Photo: Provided

LIGHTYEAR: The Wits solar car will race from Pretoria to Cape Town starting this Saturday. The winning car must travel the longest distance in eight days. Photo: Provided

Witsies will race a solar-powered car from Pretoria to Cape Town in an eight-day challenge starting later this week. The Wits solar car is hoping to go the distance in this year’s Sasol Solar Challenge, a race based on the distance covered and not speed.

Solar cars are raced all over the world, but the South African race is unique in that it is based on distance covered said team manager Kamil Midor.  Midor is a visiting lecturer in the Wits School of Mechanical, Industrial and Aeronautical Engineering.

The cars will travel a distance of 2000km on the main route with campsites every 230km.  Cars can expand the distance travelled up to 6000km by doing loops that vary between 58km and 132km.  “The final winner is the car that travelled the longest distance during the period of eight days,” said Midor.  Each day the cars must reach the designated finish line by 5.30pm.

Racing history

Wits participated in the race for the first time in 2012 and came fourth.  Learning from the previous race, they built the new car with improvements.  “It’s much lighter, much more energy efficient than before,” said Midor.

“It’s like a bicycle, just with more energy”

This is one of the cheapest cars in the competition, and it cost R130 000 to make it, said Midor.  The car can convert 22% of the sun’s energy into electricity.  This is an improvement from the previous race where it could only convert about 16%.

The car uses less energy than a hairdryer and can reach a top speed of 120km/h. “It’s like a bicycle, just with more energy,” he said. 

Solar team
Besides other South African universities, Wits will also compete against international teams from India, Turkey, Iran and current world champions, Holland.


STORIFY: Student’s body found on UWC campus

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Wits Vuvuzela: Venda University’s VC implements improved security measures in aftermath of serial killings, July 31, 2014

Wits Vuvuzela: Limpopo student linked to murders and rape, July 24, 2014

Wits Vuvuzela: Increase in muggings on Wits campus and in Braamfontein, June 23, 2014

Wits Vuvuzela: Witsies staying off-campus fear walking after dark, May 16, 2014

Wits Vuvuzela: Clamp down on crime at Wits, May 9, 2014

Lwandle learners concerned about their studies following evictions

“Where are we supposed to study for exams if we’ve been evicted?” asked learners from Lwandle at a protest outside the Cape Town provincial legislature last night.

Around 50 students, known as the Equalisers braved the winter cold to meet outside St George’s Cathedral and stand in solidarity with the residents of the informal settlement in Strand who were evicted from their homes  on Monday.

The eviction was the enforcement of a Western Cape high court order granted earlier this year to the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) and was carried out by the SAPS (South African Police Services).

“We have exams soon, where are we supposed to study,? said the learners, most of them in high school. They just kicked us out,” said Nonkozana Khumalo of Strand High School.

“I can’t focus if I don’t have a bed to sleep in, a roof over my head and food in my stomach”

Khumalo is currently in matric and is worried about completing the rest of the school year, as she and her family are now homeless.

“My studies are the most important thing to me, I can’t focus if I don’t have a bed to sleep in, a roof over my head and food in my stomach,” said Leonard Moagi, also in matric.

He watched as members of the SAPS dismantled his home and tossed his family’s belongings out onto the street.

The learners though remained in high spirits and were supported by learners from other high schools in the Cape Town area. Songs of protest filled the entrance to the provincial legislature building, as the group waited for government officials to emerge and address the crowd.

SANRAL is claiming that the settlement is blocking an upcoming development to the N2 highway, while the City of Cape Town maintains its stance that it is not involved with the demolition.

Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters is being asked by Equal Education, an organisation that campaigns for equality and quality in education, to explain why people were evicted without alternative accommodation. Media reports indicate that while the minister has apologised for the demolitions, she has appealed to the evicted residents to work with government and to “adhere to the decisions we made.”

SANRAL is an independent company owned by the government and is overseen by the transport ministry.

Equal Education is facilitating a collection of humanitarian aid for the evicted families and individuals.

The Equalisers were joined by leadership and other members of Equal Education, the Social Justice Coalition, the Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum and Ndifuna Ukwazi.

ANOTHER SLICE OF LIFE: Inequality makes for crime but I will continue to fight the good fight

Having spent most of my life in Cape Town, I was surprised by how quickly I fell in love with Jo’burg.
The vibe, the people and place itself are fun, friendly and exciting – the perfect place for an ambitious, wide-eyed 20-something to build a life. I moved here just over two years ago and, for about a week, was too paranoid even to leave my house – but only because my friends and family had told me about how “dangerous and hostile” Jo’burg could be. Roxanne counter slice


I got over it very quickly, though, and for two years, was unaffected by crime. I had become too complacent too quickly to consider that it would ever happen to me.


They say bad things usually happen in threes and my first encounter with (Jo’burg) crime came almost two months ago. A guy smashed my car window and nearly took my phone. (I, stupidly, had been waving it about in broad daylight, in the middle of town.) I was freaked out, but learnt my lesson: Be more mindful of what is going on around me.

“They say bad things usually happen in threes.”
Last week, two days after one of my classmates was mugged on campus, I nearly got hijacked. This time, it was a lot more serious, but my beloved Yaris and I escaped (mostly) unscathed. Not even 48 hours later, I was mugged in Braamfontein.
Both times, a gun was unceremoniously shoved in my face.
My initial reaction was anger, and then a lasting wave of fear. The problem is that I live, study, work and socialise this side of town and suddenly, I found myself wanting to retreat back to the other side of the highway, where I’d be surrounded by harmless old Jewish ladies and 24-hour security everywhere I went.
But, if I allow this incredibly bad stroke of luck to start defining me and controlling my life, then I’ll be going against everything I stand for. It would be easier to give up and admit defeat. I could no longer feel safe leaving the confines of home, walking to my car at night or leaving varsity late after covering a story. But I can’t and I won’t.


This isn’t because I believe in the greater good, positive energy and all that, but rather because I understand (but don’t condone) why crime is so prevalent throughout South Africa.


I could never imagine myself settling anywhere else in the world. This is my home and I love it, even when really bad things happen.
Were it not for such a massive gap between the rich and the poor, if inequality had not come to epitomise life in this country, then those three men who managed to make me feel so small and helpless would not have been so desperate to act out.


If we had politicians who cared about us and a more effective justice system, then murder, rape and theft would not be so typical of life in South Africa.
So while I hope never to bear the brunt of crime again, my perception of this country hasn’t changed and I’ll continue to (try to) fight the good fight.

OPINION: Joburg, my lover

I come from Cape Town, a city in South Africa, but really, its own little country.

The Republic of Cape Town moves to its own rhythm. It nonchalantly sways with the Atlantic tide and pumps to the beat of the south-eastern wind. It’s a giant film set, picturesque, landscaped and any other slushy adjective you can think of equivalent to a scene out of a Jane Austin novel.

I have always been one for change. I’ve moved around a lot in my life and am somewhat of a “yes man” when it comes to trying new things. When I was given the opportunity to study journalism at Wits University, I jumped on that bandwagon in a heartbeat. I knew nothing about Johannesburg at the time—this goes for almost all Capetonians.  But I like to think that after a year in the City of Gold I can make some comparisons.[pullquote]”I love being able to say that my home is in Cape Town despite many of the people there being so insular and set in their own ways.”[/pullquote]

What I love about Cape Town is that I can go from work to the beach. I love that the sun sets so late at night and that I can do more for less. I don’t have to spend much on travelling and the public transport is great. I love being able to say that my home is in Cape Town despite many of the people there being so insular and set in their own ways.[pullquote align=”right”]”For an aspiring journalist, I had to get off this one lane avenue and onto the highway.”[/pullquote]

Capetonians LOVE getting involved in any public petition such as, let’s say, bringing back doggy water bowls at the Corner Café because their Maltese poodle is so parched after a long walk on the promenade. Discussions on e-tolls or the upcoming elections don’t draw the same passion as a thirsty shitzu.

For an aspiring journalist, I had to get off this one lane avenue and onto the highway.

Moving to a city where I knew no one helped me focus on what I was trying to achieve. At first, I made my Joburg experience all about my studies. But it didn’t take long for me to realise that Jozi has so much to offer, and making my studies my first priority was going to be difficult.[pullquote]”There is a certain swag about this place, like a large thug smoking his cigar.”[/pullquote]

There is a certain swag about this place, like a large thug smoking his cigar. People don’t mess around here, they know what they want and where they are going and make no apologies for their ambitious spirit.

Compared to Cape Town, Joburg is a difficult city to live in. People talk fast and loud. They cash cheques, break necks and drive angry. Jozi hardened me up. It’s given me perspective and relinquished my need for everyday comforts and vanities – something Capetonians know far too much about.

I think there is something so magical in people believing that a place can bring them opportunity and that their dreams can come true. You can feel and see this in the people in Jozi.[pullquote]”Drenched in memories and history,Joburg makes me feel like anything is possible”[/pullquote]

I love the rawness and dirtiness of the Joburg city. It seems drenched in memories and history. Joburg makes me feel like anything is possible and that being here instantly connects me to the rest of the world and everyone in it.

Cape Town to me will always be the Mother Land, my mothers’ land. But Joburg is the man in my life who gives me butterflies and fireworks – my lover, who encourages me to be crazy, to push myself and to explore.


Strike season never ended

By Jay Caboz

IN THE Wits Vuvuzela newsroom, for whatever reason, there is a collective sigh from the journalists when the sounds of hundreds of marchers begin their chanting near Mary Fitzgerald Square.

When there is strike in Johannesburg, I can almost guarantee you a journalist will know about it.

There is nothing quite like a strike. You never know when someone is going to start throwing rubble. You never know if a journalist is going to be attacked. You never know if Julius Malema is going to rock up.

As someone who may not have such tentative ears, you might think to yourself, “Oh what? Another strike today?” Before you simply move on and forget about it.

How is it that we as South Africans are so used to the idea that striking is normal? I think, most importantly, we as a nation are becoming very nonchalant about the seriousness of the reasons people protest. We dismiss it, thinking that the strike will never go beyond affecting our traffic route.

But more and more, strike season is becoming strike year. According to Wikipedia, South Africa has one of the highest rates of public protest in the world. If you look back over 2012, we have seen some of the most violent protests in our democratic history. Who could forget the Marikana strike? And, in the Western Cape alone, 179 violent strikes were reported last year. I dread to think of the amount of service delivery strikes that occurred in Gauteng over the same period.

Is it your problem if farm workers down in the Western Cape are paid R69 a day? And should you care if a small township in the middle of who-knows-where has any public toilets? What about youth wage subsidies? What about our own Wits lecturers and staff protesting about low wages?

But, suddenly, it is your problem when you have to pay e-tolls.

Stop and think for a minute. Why are people so angry that they have to take to the streets on a regular basis to have their demands heard? I want you to ask yourself, “how many stories have I heard about strikes and how many of them have been resolved?”

The way things are going, striking is only going to get worse. So maybe it’s time we stopped and listened to the anger in those chants and realised that these protests affect more than just the people willing to stand up. It affects all South Africans in one way or another.