South Point residence mum on an incident that took place at one of their parties, raising serious concerns about the management’s response to the safety and security of students.
It’s been a little over a month since an alarming incident unfolded at a Retro Block Party hosted by South Point, where students were stubbed while others had their phones stolen. However, management at the student residence has not made any headway in finding the culprits.
According to one of the witnesses, on the night of the party, April 28, 2023, intruders gained access to the party by paying an entrance fee like anyone else. The party was hosted in one of the South Point buildings, 87 Juta in Braamfontein.
While mingling and dancing, students suddenly heard screams and saw cell phones being stolen. The security officer was called, and the suspected intruders were removed from the party. Angry victims then followed them outside to try fight for their belongings.
What these partygoers did not know was that the intruders had additional team members waiting outside – a scuffle ensued, and some students were stabbed in the process.
The party is an annual event, and this year’s party was designed to commemorate South Point’s 20th anniversary, and it is reported to have begun at 17h00 in the evening.
Wits Vuvuzela spoke to workers at South Point about the incident, but they did not want to be named in fear of retribution from their employer.
“Yes, I heard about a boy who was stabbed, but I can’t say much about it because I don’t know what’s going on, and management doesn’t tell us anything,” said the worker.
Wits Vuvuzela contactedSouth Point manager Mahlodi Mathiba, who was not aware of the incident. “Unfortunately, I don’t know anything but let me refer you to the student liaising who should know”, the manager said.
The manager then referred us to the student liaising officer, Brenda Sambo who said she was aware of the situation but was uncertain about the facts. What the student liaising said is that “I don’t really know the story, the only thing I know is that students’ phones were stolen, and they ran after the suspects only to get stabbed”.
One of the witnesses, Ngwato Mashile (22), said they have been left traumatised by the incident. “I was hurt, it really affected me because those people aimed for sensitive parts without even looking where they were stabbing, and I thought the students were dead, and I’m still traumatized because the screams keep replaying in my head,” he said.
Mashile, like other witnesses and even the victims have thus far not received any kind of assistance from their landlord.
RELATED FEATURED: Outside the residence in question, 87 Juta. Photo: Patience Masalesa
Africa’s Gold Mafia made up of self-proclaimed prophets, diplomats and gangsters caught in 4K smuggling gold and ‘washing money’.
A four-part investigative documentary produced and aired on news channel, Al Jazeera, has blown the lid on a syndicate that facilitates well-orchestrated money laundering services for criminals. The first episode, The Laundry Service, aired on March 23, 2023 and new episodes have come out every week since.
The documentary took two years of investigation and much of it hinged on the undercover work of three reporters, who relied on hidden cameras and microphones to catch those implicated red-handed.
Leading the investigative unit (iUnit) is ‘Mr Stanley’, a Chinese gangster in search of money laundering services. Then there’s ‘Jonny’ (or the Hawala Man) a black-market trader who moves money across borders without using banks. And lastly, ‘Ms. Sin’, Mr Stanley’s financial advisor.
The first episode profiles Kamlesh Pattni, a pastor who classifies himself as Brother Paul, and the founder of Hope International. Using his pious cover, Pattni manages to get close to several African presidents and ‘work with them’ on a number of shady deals.
Pattni’s greed is bolstered by his political connections, which enable him to get exceptional licenses to export gold from country to country. Just when it seemed the authorities might be onto him and prosecute him for his crimes, particularly stealing taxpayers’ money, he relocated to Zimbabwe from Kenya.
Pattni does not work alone, his accomplices include Ewan Macmillan and Alistair Mathias. Macmillan has been in and out of prison countless times from the age of 21. He stands accused of smuggling gold worth R436 million through an untraceable bank account in Dubai.
The more unassuming of the two, Mathias, earned his gold smuggling stripes in Ghana and as the group’s ‘financial architect’, builds money laundering schemes for corrupt politicians and criminals.
What stays with the viewer beyond the shocking revelations, is the lengths the iUnit journalists went to, to expose all of the things done behind closed doors. It successfully tracks the illicit and seemingly commonplace way corruption robs resource rich nations of their riches.
The documentary comes to show how even people who claim to be prophets cannot be trusted, as seen through Pattni and Prophet Uebert Angel, a Zimbabwean diplomat who uses his government post to facilitate gold smuggling.
Investigative journalism of this kind clearly still has a place and purpose in exposing wrongdoing and holding people to account. All the episodes are free to stream on Al Jazeera’s YouTube channel.
Vuvu rating: 7/10
FEATURED IMAGE: Al Jazeera Gold Mafia Cover. Photo: Screenshot/AlJazeera YouTube
Wits Vuvuzela, REVIEW: /review-top-gun-sequels-triumph-is-less-reliance-on-computer-gimmicks. June 2022
Wits Vuvuzela, REVIEW: I am all girls, May 2021
Wits Vuvuzela, REVIEW: Dead places- not all ghosts are dead, May 2021
The road to responsibility is one that we are all bound to take, and it comes with its negatives and positives.For me to come back to Johannesburg,wasadecision that was based on events that acted as a double-edged sword in my life.
Reflecting only on the bad experiences andtelling myself that I would notcomeback to Johannesburg, I did not consider any life lessons to be drawn from the experiences. However, being back in the city and being able to do almost everything I wanted to do in 2017, I can see that the past experience has equipped me to adapt way better the second time around.
Growing up in Evaton West, a township in the Vaal Triangle whereopportunities for the youth are few and a place the government couldn’t care less about, led me to consider moving to Johannesburg, where I thought I could kickstart my career as a photographer.
The younger me back then did not understand how to manoeuvre in the streets of Joburg, who to interact with and who to trust. I was enrolled at an institution named iCollege.
Having to travel to the Johannesburg CBD from the Vaal, some days I would squat at my classmate’s dorm as I did not have transport money.Travelling by Metrorail was another traumatic experience, as I would be forced to ride outside when the train was full, praying the whole time that I would make it home alive.
This ended up being a waste of my money and time because after completing the qualification it turned out that the college was not accredited for the course.
This harsh experience, plus getting mugged on my way to Park Station and getting scammed of money and a phone in a banking queue, taught me a lot about Johannesburg. It’s what I see as a double-edged sword in my life, as these experiences broke me and, at the same time, built me.
What made these experiences more traumatic was not having family to support me. I told myself that I would be better off completing my degree in the Vaal or another city or province, far away from Johannesburg.
The city initiated me in a year to know how the world can be a cold place and that you are responsible for your own happiness in life. What I wished the younger me to have seen is that in whatever situation life places you, there is always a lesson, even in the mayhem. However, as the tinnybuddah website says: “Be kind to past versions of yourself that didn’t know the things you know now.”
My achievements from 2018 to 2020, which include acquiring a BA in communication from North-West University Vaal Triangle Campus, were a result of the hardships I experienced the first time I came to study in Joburg. Today I see the city of gold through a different lens, as a hub for creatives in the artistic fields that I desire to be part of, as well as an opportunity to study at one of the biggest universities in Africa.
The diversity in culture, lifestyle and way of doing things as I perceive it now is more unifying of various cultures to bring a different taste of life to the city and introduce a new culture. I gained this new perspective while travelling in and around the city taking pictures, and I found that I could be part of that new culture.
The Alfonso that is here today came back because of what the younger me experienced and what the younger me gained, which has made me the person I am proud to be today. I am no longer afraid of the city and now understand that life may not go as planned, but through all that, I should keep my chin up. Now I can honestly say, I have been through the most and I am ready for what life keeps bringing to the table, instead of running back home as I did before.
THE WITS Health Sciences community has been hit by increased levels of crime just outside the Parktown campus since the end of last year, according to security guards.
David Mlambo, an external perimeter security guard from Protection Services, said that pedestrians with cellphones were being targeted as they walked along York Road, but recently, there had also been incidents of motor vehicle theft and robberies.
There is at least one incident of theft, or attempted theft, every week, according to Mlambo. He said, they had foiled an attempted theft of a Toyota Etios one day at the end of February but a Toyota Yaris had been stolen the very next day.
“You know, criminals are clever. I have noticed that these criminals move around checking or monitoring us, the security. It is very bad. We are all not safe,” he said.
Mlambo’s sentiments were echoed by Peter Selowa, an independent car guard, who said incidents of crime in the area had increased since the Hillbrow Police Station had cut the frequency of patrol cars.
“The police also need to play a big role. They must be visible. I think it might help,” said Mlambo.
Third-year medical student Revaan Singh was attending Awareness Day at the Medical School on March 6, when his Toyota Yaris was stolen from a parking bay on York Road.
“I walked out to go home. I was in disbelief as I approached the space where I had parked not to find my car there. At that point I knew that it had been stolen,” said the 25-year-old.
Toni Batty, a fourth-year BNurs student, said that she wished someone had warned her about the severity of crime in the area.
“Parking my car outside gives me anxiety, not only for the risk of car theft or smash-and-grabs, but also for my own safety, walking to and from my car before and after class,” Batty added.
Director of Family Medicine Dr Richard Cooke said that he was mugged in the area last year and that had made him more cautious.
“I am very vigilant now. I’m always a bit nervous walking up that hill. My main concern is not for individuals like myself, to be frank. I am concerned for smaller and, more predominantly, female students.”
Wits security staff have advised that people should avoid using cellphones in the street, that they walk in groups, and avoid leaving valuables in plain sight in parked cars.
Local organization hopes to deal with the criminal activities faced by Soweto’s Orlando East. Young men such as Sibusiso Sithole intend to bring the change needed by the township through activism.
There is no crime in Orlando East. Tina Bhengu is emphatic. No serious crime, she says. An hour-and-a-half later, it will become evident that she had been referring to visible crime, the kind that is easily identifiable through visible scars and broken property, unlike the crime behind closed doors which she goes on to describe.
The only people giving the community a hard time are the young men, many in their late teens and early 20s. “I don’t know what substances they are smoking, marijuana or whatever. Last week or two weeks ago, I had to start locking my gate because I found them inside my yard. Many of them are already in jail but many of them still come back and do the same things,” Bhengu says.
It is young men such as these that Sibusiso Sithole, the community programme manager at Isizinda Sempilo, says the organisation is hoping to target through its workshops to deal with the gender-based violence (GBV) in Soweto.
It is a cold, grey Saturday in Orlando East, in a small, cramped living room of a house along Adams Street. Bhengu recounts an experience with an uncle who made sexual advances towards her and nearly molested her on multiple occasions during her teenage years in Spruitview.
Bhengu is a short lady with a firm voice and set facial expression that gives away very little, but is occasionally broken by a smile. She is a mother of one, and a grandmother of four, living in a small, dark house, in contrast to the many brightly coloured ones along Adams Street. Inside, the bright orange sofas and Bhengu’s four-year-old granddaughter liven the room as she plays loudly with everything in her sight and throws occasional tantrums that earn her a scolding from her grandmother.
“He would always ask the children – me and my cousins – to come and sit on his lap,” she says of her uncle. “He would even invite us alone to his house and I would never go because I did not trust him and I told my cousins not to go either.” She pauses briefly, sighs and expresses, regretfully, that she cannot reveal her uncle’s identity since he holds a prominent position in the society.
This uncle, she says, had raped his own children too. He continues to walk free because the family, including his wife, who are aware of this, do not want the negative attention that reporting his crimes would bring to them. Besides, his power and influence that extend to the police and courts in Orlando have made him untouchable.
The precinct of the square is buzzing with market vendors and hawkers braving the blistering heat, the consistent noise of taxis and pedestrians all bringing it to life. A railway separates this colossal site and the squatter camp on the other side, both appealing for distinct reasons to the tourists.
At the centre of the square is its most important feature, an enclosure with an opening at the top giving room for the sun to peak through and onto the engraved display of the Freedom Charter.
The organisation runs two major programmes dealing with GBV – Priority and Prevention as well as the Gender Norms programme. Sithole explains that, “The teams go out into communities and run these two-hour sessions and talk about the impact of gender-based violence.
They refer those who have been abused and need help. The second one, the gender norms programme, but the difference is that they come for two-hour sessions for ten consecutive days. They will sit down and face their own fears and then talk about them and then be referred to other psycho-social and other programmes.”
The target of these workshops are young men such as those that can be found playing soccer outside Bhengu’s house in Orlando East at 12pm on a week day.
They are held daily in Ward 31 Orlando East, are often found through word of mouth and the ground efforts of employees at the organisations. “The teams target organised groups. For instance, they will go to your churches and malls. Other times they would walk up to groups of young men sitting around playing dice and convince them to stop and attend a two-hour session.
Soweto, along with other socially and demographically similar areas of Johannesburg including Alexandra have been specially selected by the organisation for the roll out of its programmes.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the primary funder of the organisation, chose these areas based on research they conducted around the country which identified them as areas in the most need of assistance.
The South African government provides some structural support. While GBV and violence against children are endemic in South Africa and not unique to Soweto and similar areas, they have additional socio-economic challenges including youth unemployment.
The most recent national annual report 2015/16 released by the South African Police Services (SAPS) recorded 33 613 arrests for sexual offences, an increase of 1 649 from 2014/15. The arrests for gender-based harm were 159 390, a decline of 1 268 from the previous year.
The police report goes on to outline four strategies to deal with the underreporting of crimes against women.
Among them are “Involvement of the community via community structures such as the CPFs and law enforcement agencies/force multipliers such as reservists, traffic police, etc. to join SAPS on patrols and to engage with communities to address contact crimes in households (domestic violence, rape etc.); conducting awareness programmes, encourage reporting by community.”
Nthati Phalatsi, a counsellor at a trauma centre, says that most of the victims that they encounter are children. In October 2017, an Orlando East school, a few minutes away from the Orlando East police station, was at the centre of national concern after allegations of sexual assault were made by over 80 pupils against a patroller at the school.
The man was arrested and charged with multiple counts of rape and sexual abuse. The trial which was due to start on November 1 was postponed till the end of November for further investigations.
Most of these are brought by concerned community members. In some cases, the children come on their own. Phalatsi was a victim of sexual abuse at the age of 15 at the hands of a stranger at a cousin’s house.
Years later as an adult, she would be subjected to physical abuse at the hands of her boyfriend and father of her eight-year-old son.
“I was beaten when I was pregnant. I was one month pregnant then and I thought that after that he would stop. I never laid charges against him.”
She goes on to provide a harrowing account of her ordeal with the calm and resignation of someone who has made some kind of peace with her past. She never thought to lay any charges against him.
She did not consider that a viable option despite being encouraged to do so at the hospital. “Now I’m able to tell people, ‘Why don’t you?’ because I’ve been there.”
The underreporting of crimes, Makhaya says, has also been one of the biggest hurdles to their work. “There is a feeling that nothing gets done and therefore people do not report and get the help they need,” he says.
He reveals that many victims of abuse that attend their programmes do not receive the necessary help they need after the workshops because they do not feel comfortable talking to professionals.
The organisation does not provide professional help for GBV. They recommend suitable candidates to the relevant professionals that some will forfeit.
The courts are where the final barriers to prosecution of these crimes lie, with many of the cases withdrawn before and during trial. In 2012/13, only 19 549 of the 92 161 reported domestic violence and GBV cases that were opened went to trial.
In 2013, parliament released its report on the ‘Statistics and figures relating to Violence Against Women in South Africa’ and identified the challenges to accessing statistics on violence against women.
“Statistics are almost impossible to access because domestic violence itself is not in itself a crime category.”
While the law requires station commanders, under the Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998 to keep a special record of incidents in the Domestic Violence Register, this is not consistent across police stations. The register reports of each station are not accessible and not referenced in the national police statistics.
Bhengu reflects on the most personal witness of the human effects of a failure to report cases of abuse. Late last year, a friend confided in her about years of rape that she had been subjected to since childhood and throughout her teenage years that she had never reported and never confronted.
“One day she told me ‘I was molested me and raped at a time when I was still a baby.’ She said that this had been haunting her for years and she finally had to tell someone. I cried when she told me. She was my friend and an old woman like me, can you imagine?” Bhengu says as she tearfully reflects.
At the heart of Bhengu’s descriptions of the perpetrators is the common thread by which they are tied – “ordinary”. Ordinary or as Bhengu refers to them, “mediocre men from middle class families”.
“When this rape started, all the people who were doing it were mediocre men, people who were educated!” she says, almost in disbelief. Common, unexceptional, regular men. Fathers, uncles, teachers.
Men with no known criminal past for which they would stand out. Men who are aware of the advantage they had, that they were trusted. “This thing is so difficult because even real fathers do it. We have to be careful.”
However, she says, working mothers, by no fault of their own, cannot always keep track of and notice unusual behaviour in their spouses and children. She remembers a case that she dealt with during her time as a trauma counsellor when a child had been referred by a teacher on suspicion of some form of abuse.
This was not unusual. She had to explain to the child’s mother, an alcoholic reeking of brandy that morning that her husband had been responsible for abusing her child. The woman was initially in denial but gradually put the pieces together, breaking down in tears.
For Sithole, it was concerning that there were “not enough men’s programmes and information targeted towards men” in these communities. While that has improved in the years since he joined the organisation, he does not believe that nearly enough has been done to address the issue.
Like the people at Isizinda Sempilo and Phalatsi, Bhengu believes that it is crucial to have people in the community talking openly.
She believes that family and societal secrecy as well as the failure to effectively address the behaviour of young boys, are what have allowed this violence against women and children to continue in Soweto. She believes that many families are complicit. Often, she says, families prefer to keep these cases behind closed doors.
“In most cases here, if a child gets raped, they call it a family affair. The elders will get together and demand money from the man to keep quiet about the cases,” Bhengu says.
“They never used to talk about it but we have to. It has to get better”.
FEATURED IMAGE: Community members fight against high crime rates in the city. Photo: Files.
In this episode we take a look at the work of Joburg Theatre, through the eyes of the people that work at there. Justine, who has been at the theatre for more than 20 years, walks us through its history, and Mbongeni, a ballet dancer, tells us how he came to make this beautiful theatre […]