Thumbs down for system to register for res at Wits

By Naledi Mashishi and Onke Ngcuka

First years and parents forced to bake in the sun in long lines as a result of new centralised residence registration system.

WITS’s new centralised residence registration system that was supposed to be “more convenient” has had the opposite effect as first-year residence students and their parents were left distraught after queuing for hours in the sun on Saturday, January 26.

The system, implemented on the day, placed services from the Fees, Financial Aid and Information and Communications Technology offices under one roof, at Flower Hall, West Campus.

The centralised system was also meant to ensure the verification process and the residence registration took place in the same building.

Wits University communications officer Buhle Zuma told Wits Vuvuzela that, “The new registration system sought to ease the challenges encountered by first year res students when registering. Previously, first year students would have to visit various service units to complete their registration. This was frustrating for students unfamiliar with the university.”

All packed and nowhere to go: The line for registration extended from the Flower Hall towards the Wits Science stadium.
Photo: Onke Ngcuka

A parent, Sithabile Ntombela from Durban, who had waited in line from 12pm until after 4pm told Wits Vuvuzela that she had expected to wait a maximum of an hour.

“If this was [University of] Zululand, Fort Hare or Walter Sisulu University, I would expect this, but not Wits. The other universities are previously disadvantaged. Wits has developed technology, so I wouldn’t expect this from Wits. There was no visibility from the assistants. There are assistants but very few, so you end up in the wrong queue,” Ntombela said.

Zuma said that 28 staff members from Campus Housing and 18 from other service units, as well as 35 assistants were helping with the registration, and Wits Protection Services was also present.

However, there were few visible assistants outside Flower Hall in the morning, and in the afternoon there appeared to be no more than 10 that were ushering parents and students into the different lines.

Medhurst Residence House Committee member, Nobuhle Nkosi, told Wits Vuvuzela that the All Residence Council and Residence House Committees were not consulted in the decision-making process, and that both committees opposed the new centralised system at the Residence Leadership Camp held on January 21-25 where they first heard of it.

“The new system doesn’t take into account the students…It disadvantages the students that come from far by buses and taxis as they usually leave their bags at res but now they have to stand in long lines with their bags,” Nkosi said. “It’s already crowded when people register at their reses, now imagine all those people under one roof.”

Nkosi added that the Medhurst House Committee was expecting to welcome 80 – 90 students on Saturday but only 20 had arrived by 3pm.

“People were hungry when they got here, people were crying and parents were complaining,” Nkosi said.

Hot and bothered: Students and parents bake in the sun as they queue to register.
Photo: Onke Ngcuka

Zuma said that the registration process didn’t close at 4pm as advertised, but had been extended to 6:45pm.

“Our challenge on the day was the number of students who did not apply for residence and those whose application was still pending and thus contributing to long queues,” Zuma said.

At 9.41pm on Saturday, the university tweeted an apology from its official account.

“Wits University and the Dean of Student Affairs apologises to all parents and students for the inconvenience caused by the new res system for first year students. We acknowledge the delays and the long queues and we will review the process going forward,” the tweet said.

According to Zuma, the university is doing a full review of the registration process and will consider suggestions from the Wits community.

FEATURED IMAGE: Students and their parents waited for long hours to be registered for their residence in the new centralised registration system. Photo: Onke Ngcuka

Kicked to the curb

CORRECTION: Wits Vuvuzela erroneously attributed a comment to Daya Veerasamy in the print newsaper (29 August edition), who was never interviewed for this article. Wits Vuvuzela regrets the error which has been corrected in the copy below.


Students from Wits and the University of Johannesburg (UJ) are being threatened with eviction from university residences and student accommodation facilities due to outstanding tuition fees.

 “My landlord locked me out my room and I had to kick down the door,” said Sboniso Mahlalose, a second year mining student at UJ. He stays at Bridgeview, in Braamfontein.

“I have to eat, study and sleep, and I had a project.”

Wits Vuvuzela knows of at least four students who have been told to move out of Braamfontein Centre. Some of them owe tuition fees, while others are behind on their monthly rent fees.

According to university management, a compulsory instalment of 20% is payable before admission to any Wits res and the remainder is due by the end of March that year. 

Special arrangements can be made directly with the fees office, according to fees office information.

“Paying the fees off in instalments throughout the year is available to all students.”

Students who have entered into an instalment payment agreement with Wits and have fallen behind in their payments by the end of the first term, will have “forefeited his/her rights to further accommodation during the year,” according to a Fees Office booklet.

 “I’ve had issues like this in the past,” said a Wits student from Braamfontein Centre, who has been asked to leave due to outstanding fees.

She asked not to be named as it was a “sensitive issue”.

“This time, I was given notice, I tried to find the money. But what must I do?”

If a student fails to pay the full amount of their fees by March 31, their exam results may be withheld and the student may not be admitted to any university residence during the following year.

Students do not feel they are supported by the university and the financial burden is becoming more difficult.

 “If we cannot afford it, they must help us. Even if we owe fees, this does not mean they can or should kick us out,” said another student who has been asked to leave Braamfontein Centre.

He asked to remain anonymous until his fee issues had “been sorted out”.

VC wants more white Wits students to live in residence

TOWNHALL POLITICS: Pamela Dube, Shafee Verachia and Adam Habib (left to right) fielding the audience questions about promises made. Photo: Palesa Tshandu

TOWNHALL POLITICS: (from left to right), Dr Pamela Dube, Shafee Verachia and Prof Adam Habib field questions about promises made. Photo: Palesa Tshandu

There is a lack of diversity at Wits University residences and the vice-chancellor hopes to change this by encouraging more white students to live in res.

Prof Adam Habib was addressing a gathering of staff and students at a townhall meeting in the Great Hall earlier today where he emphasised his mission  to “get the right balance between diversity and cosmopolitanism.” “The constitution and freedom charter demands that diversity,” he said.

He said Wits is a diverse university, but the residence life does not reflect that. But his suggestion to have more white students in res was not without criticism. Witsie Mcebo Dlamini reacted by saying that Habib is “bringing a culture of racism in (sic) this university”. Dlamini questioned why white students are encouraged to live in residences when they can afford to live in their “Sandton and Rosebank homes”.

Other students in attendance believe that Habib should be more concerned with poor students, mostly black, and some not from Gauteng who struggle to find accommodation.

Habib said the university was currently in engagements with South Point, Angus properties and other property developers in Braamfontein to form a partnership to expand the number of beds available for students.

Habib started today’s townhall by reflecting on the goals he had achieved from promises made at previous meetings. Some achievements include the cleanup of sewage from outside Esselen res and the establishment of a new bus stop directly outside the same residence.

In response to a question about the proposed upfront fee increase to over ten thousand rands, Habib said the university is currently facing a deficit of R25 million in outstanding tuition fees from international students which has necessitated the proposed increase.

Man dies saving girlfriend

Charlie Gomez, the young man who died trying to prevent his girlfriend from falling from the fourth floor of Milpark Mews last Saturday, 26 April.      Photo: Provided

HERO: Charlie Gomez died trying to prevent his girlfriend from falling from the fourth floor of Milpark Mews last Saturday, April 26.       Photo: Provided

A twenty-one-year man old died a hero when he attempted to save his girlfriend after she fell from an Auckland Park apartment building on Saturday.

Charlie Gomez was carrying his girlfriend, Minikazi Jojo, 22, were getting ready for a night out on Saturday. Gomez was carrying Jojo in his arms on Saturday as they walked up an outdoor stairwell to their apartment. But as she was being carried up, Jojo lost her balance and fell over the railing of the fourth floor.

Gomez lunged over the railing in an attempt to save her but lost his balance and fell from the balcony.

Jojo’s cousin, who had gone ahead to collect a set of keys, came back to find the couple on the ground.

According to a close family friend, paramedics arrived on the scene and Jojo and Gomez were both rushed to the intensive care unit of Milpark Hospital.


Gomez arrived in hospital with his legs broken. He briefly woke up and attempted to get up  before his heart failed and Gomez died two hours after being admitted to hospital.

[pullquote]“He didn’t have to save me, but he died my hero”[/pullquote]

Jojo sustained injuries to her neck, broken bones near her spine and suffered small scratches to her face. According to the family friend, Jojo knows her boyfriend’s last act was an attempt to save her from falling.

“He didn’t have to save me, but he died my hero, ” Jojo was heard saying in the hospital.

Gomez and Jojo, both University of Johannesburg students, had been dating for about two months before the accident.

University of Johannesburg students, Minikazi Jojo, posing against the railing of the Milpark Mews apartment building.   Photo: Provided

University of Johannesburg students, Minikazi Jojo, posing against the railing of the Milpark Mews apartment building. Photo: Provided

Jojo is expected to be be discharged in two weeks’ time, but her family hopes she will be able to her attend Gomez’s funeral this coming Saturday.

This is not the first fatality to happen in the building. In 2011, two AFDA students fell from a balcony of the sixth floor. The estimated 15 metre drop killed one of the students instantly.

The safety of Milpark Mews’ balconies is a concern to some residents.

“Nothing is stable, there’s cracks all over the place, and the railings aren’t high enough. I’m just wondering how many people are still going to lose their lives here?” said Jojo’s friend.

Wits Vuvuzela approached Milpark Mews security guards for comment but they professed ignorance about Jojo and Gomez’s accident. The caretaker of Milpark Mews, known only as “Ozzy”, could not be reached at his flat in the building nor on any of the provided phone numbers.

Teams fail to pitch for Wits rugby


Men’s Residence team in celebration after beating Monash 24 – 18, in the first set of Wits internal rugby league on Wednesday.           Photo: Tendai Dube

The Wits internal rugby league got off to a trying start on Wednesday.

Knockando and Humanities supporters left after both of their teams didn’t pitch up for their matches.

“Knockando thought their game only started at 8.30pm and Humanities said they didn’t know they were starting this week,” said Masakhane player Junior Mnisi.

Despite the delayed kick-off, Masakhane thrashed the Engineers in a 38 – 0 win. The SA Union of Jewish Students team and Commerce wound up playing each other after their opponents didn’t pitch up. Commerce won that match 36 -24.

Despite the confusion, the cool night and the 90 minute delay in starting the match, the fans who caught on took to the stands excitedly and not a little rowdy.

The loudest bunch were the fans from Men’s res, who cheered and stamped through their team’s victory, 24-18, over Monash.

As soon as Men’s res won, their fans emptied the bleachers and rushed onto the field with singing and cheering.

The Men’s residence fans formed up in a circle on the field and posed for pictures, bringing the first night of amateur rugby to a close.

The Humanities team won the Wits Internal League last season and competed in the Varsity Cup Koshuis tournament. A new season and the title are all up for grabs again.