Uphethen’ Esandleni? – an infusion of poetry, music and inspiration 

Audience members were lost in translation from time to time but the appreciation for art trumped any temporary confusion. 

A rallying call to hold onto what you can be proud of, and a celebration of South African indigenous languages were central at the inaugural poetry concert – Uphethen’ Esandleni? 

The Wits SRC in collaboration with 2019/2020 former SRC member Samantha Mungwe hosted the concert at the Chris Seabrooke Music Hall at Wits University on the evening of Thursday, May 18. 

Samantha Mungwe is a two-time Wits Alumni, poet and actress. The concert was inspired by the reaction she received from a recital she posted on YouTube in 2021. Uphethen’ Esandleni? – meaning ‘what do you have in your hand?’ – was the question she was asked in her poem, as she held up a degree scroll in her hand.  

A duo of energetic MCs in SRC Legal Officer, Lesego Makinita and Wits student Simon waBatho kept the mood in the room jovial.  The first round of individual performances saw rapper Cashflow (stage name) and the singer Mercy illicit much head bobbing and foot tapping from the audience. 

Members of uThingo Lwamakhosazana aseWits doing their isiZulu reed dance onstage at the Chris Seabrooke Music Hall at Wits University on the evening of Thursday, May 18, 2023. Photo: Otsile Swaratlhe

Cultural clubs and societies took centre stage after those performances. Khomanani Vatsonga Student Society kicked things off with their traditional Xibelani dance, then followed by uThingo Lwamakhosazana aseWits with their isiZulu reed dance before the Wits Zulu Society closed the group performances with a combination of isiZulu reed dances.  

The group rounded off their performance with a rendition of Gqom producer, Dladla Mshunqisi’s hit Upheten’ Esandleni. This was met with much screaming and clapping from the visibly impressed crowd. 

The latter part of the programme ushered in the poets, the main act of the night. They walked onto stage in an orderly fashion and sat next to one another. After each recitation, poets ended off with the line “upheten’ esandleni?’ before passing the microphone to the next poet, a symbolic passing of the baton.  

Attendee, Njabulo Nxumalo (21) said that she found the concert spectacular.  “I think the diversity of it all: the different cultures, the different [use of] language and the mixture of poetry with music [lyrics]…I have to give it a ten out of ten,” Nxumalo said.  

Poet of the night and AFDA student, Tiisetso Maeane (21) told Wits Vuvuzela, “[In poetry] the main thing is to be relatable,” and apart from doing the poem in Sesotho, he achieved this by making his poem about abortion. He titled the poem, Pray after death and according to Maeane, “This poem is a resurrection of a baby that was aborted. I am the voice of the baby that was aborted.” This is where he called on to the youth to practise safe sex.  

Event organiser and main act, Samantha Mungwe (24) said that she just wanted to create something that would inspire other people and create a platform like this at Wits. “[My aims for this concert were] for students to be inspired, for concerts like these to continue happening and for people to love art.” 

FEATURED IMAGE: Members of the Wits Zulu Society dance on stage during their performance. Photo: Otsile Swaratlhe


REVIEW: Fugazzi restaurant – a modern twist on traditional Italian cuisine 

Rosebank’s newest eatery is the coziest spot for winter in Johannesburg. 

Fugazzi opened its doors in April 2023 at the Zone in Rosebank Mall to serve soul-warming Italian food with a twist. 

This is the latest restaurant venture by Warren Murley, owner of other successful restaurants such as Proud Mary, which is opposite to Starbucks in Rosebank and Mama Samba which lies just next door to Fugazzi. Manager of Fugazzi Marco De Costa told Wits Vuvuzela jokingly that Murley has “a bit of a chokehold on the area.”  

It takes a special restaurant to be full of chattering people on a cold Tuesday night and Fugazzi achieved just that.  

The cosy wood-finished interior is influenced by 1980’s New York diners, with long red booths lining the walls and 80’s inspired green tiling and eclectic artwork, adding colour to the large, open space.  

The vision behind the restaurant’s concept pays homage to the way Italian cuisine has been altered by restaurants in the United States of America. This is why Fugazzi is no regular Italian restaurant, “if you want Andiccio’s, there’s one on every corner, but if you want Fugazzi, this is the one and only” said De Costa, adding that: “Fugazzi means different or messed-up” which means that everything served comes with a twist from the traditional Italian recipe. 

The interior and bar of Fugazzi restaurant in Rosebank. Photo: Kimberley Kersten

When entering the restaurant, the warmth from the surplus of gas heaters with bright orange flames flickering around the room immediately makes one forget about the winter outside. The price of the food ranges from R80 to R250 for a main course meal, stretching a student budget slightly. The most affordable beverage option is a soda float or an ice-tea, which will set you back R50, while the pricier cocktail and martini selection ranges up to R100. 

The service was efficient and friendly as the waiter was happy to recommend both food and beverages; and brought everything within a reasonable time.  

Fugazzi prides themselves on their wine collection, and I was impressed by the recommendation of a glass of Mason Road Chenin Blanc, which was smooth and lightly wooded. It was not too dry and easy to drink.  

For vegetarians, the many menu options which catered for me were a pleasant surprise. The waiter’s recommendation was the linguini Aglio e Olio, a linguini served in a sauce made of olive oil, garlic, chilli and cherry tomatoes. The dish was delightfully presented in a tangle of pasta on a long oval plate.  

The linguine aglio e olio and the pasta Genovese with glasses of red and white wine inside Fugazzi. Photo: Kimberley Kersten

The food was flavourful and comforting to eat, however the twist from traditional Italian food is difficult to notice. In addition, the waiter said that they don’t make their own pasta dough and so one cannot help but feel that the simplicity of such dishes, does not warrant a price of R95.  

The warm interior of the restaurant and the carb heavy nature of the tasty food makes this a great place to go to escape the cold, as winter approaches.  

FEATURED IMAGE: The entrance to Fugazzi restaurant in the Zone at Rosebank Mall. Photo: Kimberley Kersten


Wits student on the run after assaulting girlfriend

The Wits EFF is trying to find the woman to ascertain whether she has pressed charges.

Wits University is investigating a case of assault that took place at Wits Junction residence on Saturday, May 6, around 22:00.

The university’s spokesperson, Shirona Patel, told Wits Vuvuzela that, “This weekend the dean of students and others were made aware of a gender-based harm matter. The matter has been passed on to the Gender Equity Office (GEO) and is receiving attention.”

According to Junction residents, a female student was visiting her boyfriend who stays at the residence when she was assaulted by the boyfriend. Neighbours heard her screams and went out of their rooms to stop the alleged perpetrator, whose name is known to Wits Vuvuzela. Residents called Campus Protection Services guards and the woman was taken home after she had written a statement.

Awelani Mathiba, a Junction resident who had rushed to the scene, told Wits Vuvuzela that, “I am not happy with what happened especially when I went to the scene and heard the girl screaming, the situation was bad. Honestly, it’s not good and what hurt me the most is that when it was announced in the Junction [WhatsApp] group, a lot of guys didn’t come to support.

“Some of his friends just laughed about the matter, I didn’t believe it. I think we can do better as men to stop GBV (gender-based violence). Campus control took time to come to Wits Junction. The securities should do better and know what to do in situations like these,” Mathiba said.

Following the incident, a meeting was called the next day at 18:00 by concerned Junction residents. About 30 people attended and residents voiced their concerns that they did not feel safe anymore and that the university had to do something to ensure their safety.  Wits Junction manager Faith Nkonyane told the meeting that she had reported the matter to the GEO and it was being dealt with accordingly.

In a statement emailed to Junction residents on Tuesday, May 9, house committee members Luyanda Lebatla and Anesu Pisira wrote: “The house committee strongly condemns any form of violence especially gender-based violenceand is committed to ensuring that all residents feel safe and secure in the residence. We understand that incidents of this nature can cause fear and distress and want to reassure all residents that we are taking this matter seriously.”

The Wits EFF Student Command also weighed in on the matter in a statement posted on their Instagram page. “As the mighty EFFSC we maintain a clear stance against any abusive treatment against women and we also understand that this institution has expressed itself as being one that shares the same stance of GBV. With that in consideration we are calling for necessary action to be taken against the alleged perpetrator and his friends.”

The EFFSC told Wits Vuvuzela on Thursday, May 11, that they were trying to find the woman who was assaulted so that they could find out whether she had pressed charges or not.

The alleged perpetrator is on the run according to Wits Junction residents, and has not been seen since the weekend.

Patel has encouraged the Wits community to visit the GEO website for information on the university’s policies and procedures. 

FEATURED IMAGE:  Wits Junction residents are urging the university to do something to ensure their safety. Photo: Sinazo Mondo


Wits to build a new cutting-edge sports complex  

The sports facility is set to be a flagship Wits centenary project for prospectus student athletes. The university celebrated its centenary last year.  

The unveiled plaque of The Brian and Dorothy Zylstra Sports Complex at Wits Education. Photo: Ayanda Mgwenya

Wits has received a whooping R250 million donation towards the building of The Wits Brian and Dorothy Zylstria Sports Complex for student athletes. The complex is set to boost the university’s athletic prospects and support the next generation of athletes. The announcement was officially made during the launch ceremony hosted at Wits Education Campus, on May 4.   

The director of Wits Sport and Health, Professor John Patricios said the donor — Zylstra’s family foundation Skye — has enormously contributed not only to the enrichment of the future generation athletes but also towards remodeling Wits University’s disposition in sports.  

During the ceremony, the representative of the Zylstra family, Phil Zylstria said, “My father [Brian Zylstria] studied at Wits in the 1960s, and the university changed his life. He was a governor at the university, and he raised money for the university.” 

He added that his father has always been thankful for what the university has done for him, and that is why he started the foundation in 1997. 

The Zylstria family has been giving Wits student athletes scholarships since 1998, through the foundation, as a form of gratitude towards the university’s influence in the late Wits alumnus’ life.  

The family believes this sports complex will benefit the surrounding communities in Johannesburg and bring positive change.  

Patricios, emphasized the transformative impact of the sports facility, stating that, “this complex will revolutionize what Wits can offer in sports and exercise-medicine.”  

The complex has three pillars of focus: academic, research and clinical management. In a statement released by the university on the day of the ceremony, it said the sports facility will incorporate sports science training, research, and practical clinical applications. It will consist of state-of-the-arts therapeutic amenities, a swimming center, and a residential area with 44 beds dedicated to accommodating top-tier athletes. 

The sports complex will accommodate Wits student athletes and other high performing tertiary students around the community of Johannesburg who may come from intuitions without adequate sports facilities. 

At the end of the ceremony, the dean of student affairs at Wits University, Jerome September, delighted attendees by unveiling a remarkable surprise during the event – a Wits Sports book authored by Dr Jonty Winty. The book chronicles the rich history of sports at Wits University, dating back a century. As a thoughtful gesture, each attendee was gifted a copy of it, allowing them to cherish and reflect upon the university’s sporting heritage.  

The architectural plans have been distributed and the building construction is set to commence early January 2024 and set to be completed in 2025/26. 

FEATURED IMAGE: Representative of the Zystra family and Sky Foundation, Phil Zylstra, Wits vice-chancellor Zeblon Vilakazi and Jon Patricios, Professor of Sport and Exercise Medicine, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty Health Sciences at Wits unveil the Wits Brian and Dorothy Zylstra Sports Complex plaque. Photo: Ayanda Mgwenya


INFOGRAPHIC: Joburg mayoral election unpacked

On May 5, 2023 Al Jama-ah’s Kabelo Gwamanda was elected executive mayor of the country’s economic hub, Johannesburg by fellow councillors. The process for selecting the mayor was nothing short of a rollercoaster ride, this infographic explores some of those twists and turns.

FEATURED: The executive mayor Kabelo Gwamanda reading his oath during the process of being sworn in. Photo: Seth Thorne


WITH GALLERY: Kabelo Gwamanda elected as Joburg mayor 

After nearly two weeks without one, Joburg has its fifth mayor in just 18 months. 

Al Jama-ah’s Kabelo Gwamanda has been voted in as Johannesburg’s new executive mayor by councillors in a secret ballot at the City Council sitting on May 5, 2023. 

Out of the 266 ballots cast Gwamanda received 139 votes, while the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Johannesburg caucus leader Mpho Phalatse got 68 votes and ActionSA’s Gauteng chairperson Funzi Ngobeni, got 59 votes. 

This was the council’s fifth attempt at voting in a mayor since the resignation of Al Jama-ah’s Thapelo Amad on April 24. A sitting on Tuesday, May 3 was postponed due to squabbles amongst coalition partners.  

Messy horse trading  

Failed negotiations among those in the former ‘multi-party coalition,’ saw the DA unable to come to an agreement with ActionSA, IFP, VF+, ACDP, UIM and PA.  

In an interview with Wits Vuvuzela DA Johannesburg caucus leader Mpho Phalatse said that the reason negotiations failed is because the DA could not come to terms with the proposition by the Patriotic Alliance (PA) to nominate Kenny Kunene as mayor. “[We] could not fathom how such could be allowed,” she said. 

The PA, the swing vote in council, then put their weight behind Gwamanda, alongside the ANC, EFF, Al Jama-ah, AIC, AHC, ATM, Good, PAC, Cope and APC. In return, Kenny Kunene received an executive position and now has control over the city’s transport portfolio. 

Gwamanda labels this coalition as “one of national unity” which will continue to “prioritize service delivery,” arguing that regime change in the city will not negatively impact service delivery. 

Former mayor Thapelo Amad said that the election of his Al Jama-ah colleague is a good thing for the city, stating that “the city is in capable hands”.  

ActionSA mayoral candidate Funzi Ngobeni says that his party is happy with the working relationship with the ACDP, IFP, UIM and VF+, however it is “unfortunate that we could not get DA on board.” He says that the aims of the partners now are to be “a constructive opposition”.  

FEATURED: IEC officials alongside political party representatives counting the secret ballot votes at the Joburg City Council on May 5, 2023. Photo: Seth Thorne


NOW HIRING: Joburg mayor

The city’s deadline to elect a new executive mayor is fast approaching, and a new candidate has still not been elected.

The City of Johannesburg is still without an executive mayor following the council’s failure to elect a new mayor at its council meeting on May 2, 2023.

DA Johannesburg caucus leader Mpho Phalatse being surrounded by other DA councillors ahead of expected voting at the city council on May 2, 2023. Photo: Seth Thorne

Council speaker Colleen Makhubele of Cope adjourned the meeting at the Johannesburg city council in Braamfontein in the early hours of the evening, saying, “clearly we [council] are not ready to elect a new mayor today”. This was contrary to an assurance made at the beginning of the sitting that a new mayor would be elected.

The resignation of mayor Thapelo Amad of Al Jama-ah last week left the city without a mayor at its helm, and now the city inches ever closer to being put under administration as seven of the 14 days needed to find a replacement have lapsed.

Voting proceedings were disrupted a total of five times throughout the day – all for caucus breaks as spars amongst parties regarding preferred mayoral candidates continued on both sides of the aisle.

The African National Congress (ANC) led coalition is reportedly divided between nominating four separate candidates – all from different parties. Similarly, parties aligned to the “moonshot pact” failed to come to an agreement, with the Democratic Alliance (DA) wanting to field their own candidate whilst their partners opted for another. The DA has also allegedly closed the door on negotiations with the Patriotic Alliance – a crucial vote in the city’s council.

Makhubele hoped that the granting of a three-hour break would allow parties to resolve issues regarding nominations and allow for the continuation of the meeting without interruptions.

Upon return from the long break, ANC councilors were notably missing. This saw yet another adjournment. When council reconvened at around 17:30pm, Al Jama-ah requested another caucus break, to the loud dismay of opposition parties. In response, Makhubele adjourned the election to the next council sitting on Friday, May 5.

ActionSA chairperson Michael Beaumont described the adjournment as a “total disgrace”, arguing that the ANC and EFF “cannot even elect a mayor, let alone focus on service delivery”. Beaumont also uttered his discontent with the DA, saying that it is difficult to negotiate with partners who have “broken coalition agreements on two occasions” and “do not come to the table”.

Gauteng premier and ANC provincial chairperson Panyaza Lesufi made a brief appearance in the gallery ahead of the expected voting before 18:00pm, however left hastily after the adjournment without giving comment.

ActionSA chairperson Michael Beaumont discussing his views on the adjournment of council on May 2, 2023. Photo: Seth Thorne

FEATURED IMAGE: Gauteng Premier and ANC provincial chairperson Panyaza Lesufi (left) left seemingly upset about the adjournment of Johannesburg city council on May 2, 2023. Photo: Seth Thorne


Research excellence exemplified in Bt30 study 

A study that lasted so long it saw the transition from pencils and paper to intelligent data and code programming, celebrates a massive feat with the launch of a book.

Africa’s largest and longest running birth cohort, the Birth Till 30 (Bt30) study, has tracked the lives of over 3 000 people born in South Africa for 30 years. Professor Linda Richter, one of its co-founders detailed the fascinating study and its findings in a book released on August 19, 2022.   

Birth to Thirty: A Study as Ambitious as the Country We Wanted to Create, is a book that details the intended 10-year study of the health and development of children born in Soweto, Johannesburg during the politically turbulent 1990’s. It has now published over 270 papers, employed several staff members for more than 25 years and collected more than 20 million raw data points on close to 2 000 individuals over 22 data collection waves between birth and adulthood.  


Speaking at the launch at the Wits Origins Centre, Richter, a Wits Professor and the director of the Organisational Unit, DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Human Development, said: “The study is known throughout the world as a highly valued source of longitudinal social and biological data.”  

Some of the study’s major findings in Richter’s book include only 1% of children in the sample having not witnessed or experienced any form of violence, while close to half experienced or witnessed violence at home, school and in their community. Sexual violence was experienced across all ages in the cohort’s lives. They also found by age 28 that about a third of men and women reported that they either physically abuse or are abused in their intimate relationships. 

According to Richter the most striking scientific findings proved that: “Physical growth, cognitive capacity, and mental health can all be tracked from parents, through to early childhood and into the adult years, as well as inter-generationally.” 

Some of the most prevalent finings were in areas such as unemployment, secondary education, substance use and welfare. Graphic: Elishevah Bome

The study saw that the wellbeing of the Bt30 generation has been boosted during the past 30 years. For example, Bt30 women are taller than their mothers, on average by one centimetre. More than half passed matric, whereas only a quarter of their mothers did, and more Bt30 women live in households with consumer goods such as a car, refrigerator and washing machine. However, Bt30 women unlike their mothers, had their first pregnancy before the age of 18. They also smoke and drink alcohol, feel overwhelmed by debt, and report intimate partner violence and depression.  

Barbra Monyepote, who was with the project since its conception, detailed how many of the research assistants were new to the field and not very familiar with medical research. She told Wits Vuvuzela about the difficulties she faced in missing family events when working long hours and weekends. Complications when it came to language and navigating Soweto, were also common “but at last we got it right” she said.  

Boitumelo Molete, a participant in the study, said “The study was part of my childhood and upbringing.” She has been through countless x-rays, blood tests and questioners. “I discovered the importance of research at a very young age, I ended up taking this as a profession and thoroughly enjoy it.”  

Richter’s main motivation in writing this book is ”to affirm the experiences of the participants, contributing to their memories, and ensure that they, their families and their children know what a significant study Bt30 is”.  

FEATURED IMAGE:  Birth to Thirty: A Study as Ambitious as the Country We Wanted to Create, was released on August 19, 2022. The book details the Bt30 study. Photo: Supplied