The Progressive Youth Alliance has recently been the target of a sudden occurrence of graffiti on campus.
The graffiti in front of the Nunnery and next to the Wits Arts Museum has anti-PYA connotations. The artwork is painted in red with a drawing of an AK-47 and the letters PYA. It is next to graffiti saying “Steve Biko lives” and other graffiti says “F*** police”. Some near Solomon Mahlangu House was painted over.
When asked by Wits Vuvuzela about the graffiti, PYA chairperson Mpendulo Mfeka was shocked: “We did not know of any graffiti and it’s the first time I am seeing it.”
“I interpret it in my own way, to me it’s an aggressive form of graffiti. Because whoever drew that thing is probably not a PYA member. ’Cause you can’t draw an AK and then next to it draw a PYA sign. So you are literally saying shoot down the PYA. This is news to us,” said Mfeka.
“It’s an issue which has to be handled by not only political activists but by the Wits community at large,” he said.
“We take note that these walls are again cleaned by our very own parents, workers, who we try to fight for year in, year out, that they must be insourced, so on and so forth. At the same time we create chaotic work for them, so you painting a wall, is not only a problem to the PYA, it becomes a problem to society,” said Mfeka.
Reports surfaced during last year’s #FeesMustFall student protests and the SRC Elections that the leadership of the PYA was on rocky ground.
“There was some misunderstanding from the public or the Wits community at large, to say that there were fights within the PYA about who must be this and who must be that. If you remember at some point there was a rumour saying that SRC people have resigned,” said Mfeka.
However, Mfeka dismissed all reports and told Wits Vuvuzela that the “PYA is well organised”.
Early last year the university condemned offensive graffiti on campus, whether political or social.
“It has come to our attention that a small group of students are deliberately spraying offensive graffiti on walls on Wits’ campuses and on T-shirts,” a statement said.
According to the university, it is forced to clean the offensive graffiti which comes at a huge cost to the university and these are funds which could have been spent on financial aid.
The university said it would take action against anyone caught defacing university property or spraying graffiti on walls not designated for this purpose.
Wits Chief Operations Officer Fana Sibanyoni said “Wits has approved graffiti walls on the Braamfontein East and West campuses.”
“These are: the white wall outside the matrix, the tunnel linking the East and West Campus (near the traffic circle) and the white wall between PIMD and Chalsty Centre. Permission to use these designated spaces must be sought from Student Affairs,” said Sibanyoni.