No prosecution for arrested Wits protesters


Student who were arrested earlier today as part of the Fees Must Fall protest that took place at Wits University will not be prosecuted for their charges and will be released.

The group of 31, who mostly belong to Men’s Res, are being held at the Hillbrow Police Station as they await their release, which is expected to be at 4pm today.

The protesters were arrested for “contravening a court interdict,” according to the Hillbrow Police Station’s spokesperson Mduduzi Zondo. The court order prevents anyone from obstructing the entering or exiting of any person, “or any of its buildings, facilities, residences, halls, classrooms and the like”.

Vuyani Pambo, a member of the Wits Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), said that he could not supply the names of the arrested students. However, he could confirm that Koketso Poho, chairperson of the Wits EFF, was part of the group who were arrested and was injured in the process.

“Once all the 31 students were processed, then the dockets were taken to the senior prosecutor for advice to see if they would prosecute on the case,” said Florencia Belvedere, an attorney from Lawyers for Human Rights whom is working on the case.

Belvedere said that the senior prosecutor then agreed not to prosecute and agreed to allow the students to be released.

“The issue remains however whether there is some grounds to carry the court order because today the students are released but tomorrow, they demonstrate again and we could be back here again,” said Belvedere.



Exploring their routes, barefoot

BARING THEIR ROOTS: Saul Nossel and Noah Bamberger are two of the band’s original members. The band’s new EP, Routes, was just released and is available for free online.  Photo: Roxanne Joseph

BARING THEIR ROOTS: Saul Nossel and Noah Bamberger are two of the band’s original members. The band’s new EP, Routes, was just released and is available for free online. Photo: Roxanne Joseph

Johannesburg band Go Barefoot creates music that makes you want to dance. Described as a mixture of urban-African, jazz, rock and folk, they “really love” their city, a lot.

John Smith, a graphic design student at Vega, is one of the band’s guitarists, vocalists and a “Kenny G” lookalike. The other is Michael Dawson, an architecture student at the University of Cape Town. When he is not coaching soccer, Clive Vicker is Go Barefoot’s bassist. Saul Nossel, a third year music student at Wits, plays the drums and finally, Noah Bamberger, a second year applied computing student, plays the keys.


New kids on the block

The band are relatively new to the South African music scene and take example from other local groups, such as Desmond and the Tutus and Shortstraw, who organise and book their own gigs, manage their own tours and work together in everything they do.

“We take conventional and obvious sound, and don’t do that.”

Each of them brings a different set of influences and styles to the group, according to Nossel. Jazz, rock, blues folk, indie and electro are all thrown into the mix when writing a song and practicing for a show. They even have elements of maskandi genre, which Michael learnt from a busker on the street.

“But we’re very experimental,” Bamberger said. “We take conventional and obvious sound, and don’t do that.”

Their audience, they said, has changed from just their friends, to a variety of people. They cater to the up and coming generation, but want to reach out to places like Hillbrow, Soweto and Yeoville.

“Joburg is a progressive, but segregated place,” said Bamberger. “And we want to get out of that by partying together.”

Doing something different

Their music speaks to people of different races, classes and backgrounds. One of their favourite places to play is Braamfontein’s Kitchener’s because it is one of the “coolest and most integrated clubs” in the city.

“We love an audience that loves to lose itself, and who loves dancing. It hurts us if they don’t dance, we struggle to play if people just stand there,” Bamberger explained.

Both Nossel and Bamberger agree that they do not fit into the South African music scene, because they are “trying to do something different”.

“There’s no such thing as original music, only original combinations of it.”

They want to encourage fans to explore the inner city a bit more, and believe their music can help that happen.

Go Barefoot recently played a string of gigs across the city, from Melville to Greenside to Braamfontein, and are about to start a small national tour, starting with an “epic” show at Kitchener’s next weekend. They also just released an EP, called Routes, which, according to Nossel, is about “the routes we take and the roots we come from”.

Their EP, Routes, is available for download online.

With Gallery: Crap storm over Esselen res




A SMELL of raw sewage tackles you the moment you step off the bus into Esselen street. On windy days, the sewage becomes airborne and sprays you with a misty combination of human urine and faeces . [pullquote align=”right”]“Last year someone from Florence building threw a plastic bag full of shit out their window and it landed in our laundry area”[/pullquote]

Complaints from students about the bad smell, stagnant sewage and uncollected waste piling up at Florence building next door to Esselen residence, spilled over this week as some Witsies living there vented their frustration on twitter.

Dion Mkhonza ran a hand across his face as he relived his experience of the strange rains.

Strange rains

“You come off the bus and this water hits your face. You think it’s rain first but then you see that pipe and it’s spraying sewage from that building,” Mkhonza said pointing at the dilapidated Florence building separated from Esselen residence only by a filthy alleyway swimming with rubbish and ankle deep with sewage.

Not only does human excrement rain from the skies, it also flies in through windows.

“Last year someone from Florence building threw a plastic bag full of shit out their window and it landed in our laundry area. “Ne nkare ho shweli motho (It was like somebody had died),” said a resident, who asked not to be named.

Peeping Toms

The student also said that on Monday, a man was staring at her through the window as she came out of the shower.

Another student, Manda-Lee Debathe, 4th  year B.Ed, said the same thing had happened to her. [pullquote]“In that building anyone arrives and says they are boss,”[/pullquote]

“When we are dressing in the morning there are guys standing at their balconies with their coffee watching,” Debathe said.

Accommodation officer in charge of Esselen, Elsie Mooke, confirmed that residents of the adjoining Florence building, formerly a private hospital before being converted into residential apartments, often threw out rubbish, bath water and excrement from their windows and into Esselen.

“It’s really dirty and it’s really affecting the area. Wits has sent the environment people here but it didn’t help…Students can’t open their windows because of the terrible smell and the mosquitoes, and they can only get fresh air from the passage,” Mooke said.

Owner gone AWOL

Mooke said attempts to deal with the problem had hit a wall because no one knows who the owner of the building is.

Together with another Esselen resident and house committee member, Kelobogile Sebopelo, Mooke described the fears they had in dealing with anyone from the Florence building.

“Last year they came looking for me and I acted like I didn’t know anything.” he reported.

“In that building anyone arrives and says they are boss,” Mooke said, warning this Wits Vuvuzela journalist to be careful and not to attempt to enter the Florence building.

Sebopelo told a more troubling story.

“There was a guy. Wits was trying to buy the building but then the guy was stabbed over there,” Sebopelo said, pointing beyond her 2nd floor window to the intersection adjacent to Constitutional Hill.

Accommodation officer Mooke was reluctant to speak about the stabbing incident, preferring to point out the good things about Esselen rather than the bad.

“There is warmth inside here,” she said.

Mkhonza, in his third year as an Esselen resident and a member of the house committee, said they had been promised many times that Esselen would be closed down and moved to Parktown but the promise had not materialised.

Place to call home

The education student was adamant, however, that all was not flying faeces at Esselen.

“When I moved here in first year I thought it would be bad until you see other people.

“It is the people who live here that keep you here, not the building,” Mkhonza said.

Cop killed near Park station

A 26-year-old Johannesburg police officer was killed and another was shot in the eye during a routine stop-and-search operation in Hillbrow on Wednesday night

The officers had begun their 6pm shifts and were on patrol in the city when they noticed a suspicious car at the corner of King George and Wolmarans streets.

According to reports, the officers approached the car with its three occupants to search the vehicle. One of the occupants allegedly refused to cooperate with the officers’ requests, and acted aggressively.

 “The constable tried to calm him down but one of the other two suspects pulled out a firearm and shot the member in his right eye,” said lieutenant-colonel Katleho Mogale.

The suspect fired a second shot at the other officer, fatally wounding him. The injured officer was rushed to hospital for treatment.

Constable Nkosinathi Mgimeti said at least two people were arrested for the possession of an unlicensed firearm in the Hillbrow cluster area between August 7 and August 13.

Mogale urged anyone who may have witnessed the incident to contact Crime Stop on 08600 10111 or SMS anonymously to the Crimeline 32211.