SLICE: Johannesburg will break, build you

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, was a decision that was based on events that acted as a double-edged sword in my life. 

Reflecting only on the bad experiences and telling myself that I would not come back 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 where opportunities 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 experienceas 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. 

FEATURED IMAGE: Alfonso Nqunjana

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Crime on the increase outside Health Sciences Campus

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.

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Tsotsis stalk Witsies on Enoch Sontonga

Criminal activity on Enoch Sontonga has been an issue for Wits University campus control for a while, the recent increase in muggings has prompted action from the university.

It’s a quiet Friday afternoon on Enoch Sontonga Avenue commuters are steadily making their way home from work. Two women are walking, comfortably enough to have an intense conversation between them. As they make way for a man in blue overalls to pass them by, he snatches one of the women’s bags!

Her companion runs into on-coming traffic out of fear and the jogging man continues to run on steadily with his stolen goods. He ducks through a hole in the gate of a park and out of sight. His victim stands still, wide-eyed, her hands over her mouth – bagless. It’s another day on Enoch Sontonga.

DANGER DRIVE: The recent increase in criminal activities on Enoch Sontonga Avenue has prompted Wits University to up the level of security on the busy road. Enoch Sontonga Avenue runs along the Strurrock Park sports precinct, parallel to the Enoch Sontonga memorial park.  Photo: Rafieka Williams

DANGER DRIVE: The recent increase in criminal activities on Enoch Sontonga Avenue has prompted Wits University to up the level of security on the busy road. Enoch Sontonga Avenue runs along the Strurrock Park sports precinct, parallel to the Enoch Sontonga memorial park. Photo: Rafieka Williams

The safety issues on Enoch Sontonga, which lies just outside the university campus, have recently been brought to the attention of Wits University due to the mugging of a number of people, students and staff members alike.

Lemy Rantsatsi, a first year student at Wits said she was robbed this year around 12:30 in the day, while she was on her way home. “They just grabbed me and took my stuff and jumped over the wall at the bridge,” she said.

According to Rantsatsi there was no security around at the time and she continues to walk on the road because the taxi fare home is too expensive considering that she stays close by.

Wits University campus control responds

Robert Kemp from Campus Control said that the university had been aware of the dangers of the area for some time now. “We have a patrol on the stretch of road up to the Raikes Road Gate,” he said. The patrol members who are intended to patrol in these places wear black uniforms with blue reflector jackets and can be seen along any of the routes described.

He also said that the university intends to increase patrols in the area and has requested SAPS intervention.

Kemp added, “Students should avoid walking along Enoch Sontonga after dark if possible, motorists should be careful when using this stretch of road, particularly when stationary at traffic lights. Keep doors locked and windows closed and valuables out of site and locked in the boot.  Do not use cell phones in public view.”

The road runs along the West Campus entrance of the University as well as the Sturrock Park sports precinct.

 

 

Crime wave sweeps through Braam

Witsies have spoken of their “disbelief” as they witnessed criminals mugging motorists and attacking fellow students in and around Braamfontein.

A group of four men have been targeting cars waiting in traffic next to Noswall Hall residence on Jan Smuts avenue this past week.

A male student, who asked to remain anonymous, said he saw the men running into traffic on Tuesday afternoon and initially could not understand what they were doing. Soon after, he saw them approach a car with its windows down.

“They reached in and stole his valuables. I got scared and realised they were mugging people in their cars who were stuck in traffic. I thought I’d be next so I just ran away,” he said.

Student Funeka Sibande said she had a similar experience last week when she was standing with a friend outside Noswall Hall.

“They came out of nowhere and were running between cars mugging people inside the cars. Two went to the passenger doors and two to the driver’s door taking anything they could see. I was in disbelief,” she said.

When they came back one of the muggers said: “We are not here for you guys.”

According to Sibande the mugger said: “We are targeting privileged people and whites in good cars.”

Minutes later they mugged “a white man in a Jeep who had his windows down”, Sibande said.

“They came out of nowhere and were running between cars mugging people inside the cars. Two went to the passenger doors and two to the driver’s door taking anything they could see. I was in disbelief.”

“We got away after that, they were dangerous. People need to be careful. Don’t leave your windows down and please don’t leave valuables where they can be seen,” she said.

This is just one of several muggings and “smash and grabs” that have been taking place in various areas around Braamfontein over the last two weeks.

Wits security and liaison manager, Lucky Khumela, said he was not aware of the gang outside Noswall Hall but would warn Wits security to be on the lookout and “increase security” in the area. He said he would also alert police in the area.

“Don’t leave your valuables. Lock your laptops and bags in your boot and keep cellphones out of sight. There is a rise in sporadic crimes in the area and we will do everything we can to keep our students safe,” he said.

Last week a red Volkswagen Polo was targeting students on Smit, Jorissen and Simmonds streets.

The vehicle is believed to have been involved in at least five muggings around the Braamfontein and Wits area.

On Saturday a female student was mugged of her cellphone by one of the assailants who distracted her and then climbed into the waiting red Polo driven by an accomplice and the two of them drove off.

The student ran to a guard who alerted other members of security in the area. According to Khumela, one of the security guards then saw the Polo waiting at a red traffic light on Simmonds street.

“He grabbed a metal pole and hit the back window and the side of the car as a way of trying to stop them from getting away,” said Khumela.

The car managed to get away but has not been seen in the area since.

Braamfontein security guard takes on car full of criminals

A Wits security guard attempted to stop a car involved in a robbery while it was fleeing the scene of a robbery in Braamfontein on Saturday.

The vehicle, a red Volkswagen Polo, is believed to have been involved in at least five muggings around the Braamfontein and Wits area over the last week.

Saturday robbery

A female student, who asked to remain anonymous, was walking on Jorissen street when a man walked up behind her.

“He distracted me and then stole my cellphone right from my hands. It happened so quickly,” she said.

The robber then climbed into a waiting red Polo driven by an accomplice and the two of them drove off.

The student ran to a guard who alerted other members of security in the area. According to Campus Security and Liaisons manager Lucky Khumela, one of the security guards then saw the Polo waiting at a red traffic light on Simmonds street.

“He grabbed a metal pole and hit the back window and the side of the car as a way of trying to stop them from getting away,” said Khumela.

The car managed to get away but has not been seen in the area since.

Previous incidents

On Friday, the same car was involved in two muggings where two cell phones and a wallet were stolen. Khumela said most of the victims in the past week had been females.

Khumela has asked students to “keep an eye out” for the vehicle and to call the police or campus control if it is seen.

The number plate of the red Polo is WSW533 GP.

Crime around campus can be reported to Campus Control on (011) 717-444