In plain English, Tuks has dropped Afrikaans

By Naledi Mashishi

The University of Pretoria has scrapped Afrikaans in favour of using English only in official communications and as a medium of instruction.

As of January, 2019, the University of Pretoria (UP) will be using English as the only language of instruction and communication instead of offering Afrikaans alongside English. This was announced by the new vice-chancellor, Prof Tawana Kupe, on Monday, January 21.

The decision resulted from recommendations made by the university’s transformation committee, student representatives, and various other stakeholdersin early 2016. According to UP spokesperson Rikus Deport, the move was made as an effort to transform the university. It was also made in response to the decline in the number of Afrikaans home language students at the university which dropped from 85% in 1992 to 30% in 2015. Only 18% of students wished to use the language as a medium of instruction in 2016.

Deport further stated that the new language policy would only affect students who are enrolling in programmes offered by the university for the first time in 2019.

“Students who registered for the first time prior to 2019 will continue to receive lectures, tutorials, study guides and assessment material (question papers, assignments and the like) in Afrikaans for those programmes which were offered in Afrikaans at the time of enrolment, provided that the class size remains practically feasible and it is academically justifiable.

“Where assessment and question papers are set in Afrikaans, currently enrolled students will also be allowed to answer in Afrikaans,” Deport told Wits Vuvuzela.

After the university’s Senate approved the new language policy in June 2016, civil liberty groups Afriforum and Solidarity  appealed the decision in court.

“This amounts to a gross violation of the language rights of Afrikaans students at UP,” said Afriforum in a statement.

The appeal was turned down by the Gauteng High Court in December 2016 after finding that it was no longer practical to offer classes in both English and Afrikaans, given the changing demographics of the university.

Judge Peter Mabuse, wrote in the judgement, “The language policy choice made by the University of Pretoria is not only consistent and in accord with the provisions of the Constitution, it also signals a deep and sincere commitment to place the university at the forefront of being an agent in advancing social cohesion.”

In a May 2017 statement, Afriforum expressed their disappointment with the ruling. “As access to education in Afrikaans remains a priority for AfriForum and Solidarity, they will continue to have discussions with international forums and experts in order to wage the battle on the protection of this right in the international arena as well.”

The university began phasing out Afrikaans in 2017 and in 2018,  informed students that the university would switch to an English medium institution in the new year.

Lecturers who formerly gave lectures in Afrikaans will now be expected to teach only in English.

However, some such as Siseko Kumalo, a UP philosophy masters student and editor of the Journal of Decolonising Disciplines, argue
that the new English-only policy is still exclusionary towards black students as it privileges students whose mother tongue is English.

“A lot of scholarship around language policy is indicating that universities should look at where they are situated and offer those languages as multilingualism achieves better results. Students perform better when they are able to learn in their mother tongues,” he told Wits Vuvuzela.

“There’s a lot of excitement about monolingualism now but in five years’ time I foresee us revisiting the question of why African languages are not being used and what knowledge we can produce when we use indigenous languages,” he said.

FEATURED IMAGE: The historically Afrikaans institution, the University of Pretoria, will now use English as its primary means of instruction and communication. Photo: File.

Tuks SRC Elections still under investigation

Afriforum Youth, EFFSC UP (Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command of University of Pretoria)  and SASCO (South African Students Congress) marched at University of Pretoria, demanding that SRC elections be re-held after claiming that the elections have been rigged. However, the university is still investigating and presently the preliminary results still stand.

The protests have been ongoing since DASO, the DA student party won most seats and the position of the president in the elections held two weeks ago. The university is still conducting an investigation and have so far opted for a recount and not yet called for re-election.

The dispute started after SASCO released a statement on Facebook stating that “one of our party agents notified us of a discrepancy at one of the voting stations (IT voting station) in which the votes and the voters roll did not correlate (58 more votes than voters); which is not unusual in this institution- it’s a practice they have enjoyed for too long.”

They also claimed that votes were rigged in favour of the DA, and that some polling station boxes were found unsealed.

This was later accompanied by Twitter and Facebook posts of photos that show the open ballot boxes.


Since the university launched the investigation, the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) has met with concerned parties for a recount and full audit. Prof. Themba Mosia, vice-principal of student affairs and residences, stated in a media release, “In terms of its constitutional mandate, the IMB has found that a full recount of the SRC election votes must take place in the presence of staff from the Department of Student Affairs (DSA), the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), candidates or party representatives, and the internal auditor authorised to complete the audit.” Prof. Mosia emphasised that the IMB has not yet made a decision on whether or not the elections were free and fair.

“This is another tool to silence student activism,” .
According to Naledi Chirwa, the EFFSC-UP’s legal and transformation officer, “a recount won’t be feasible as a lot of time has passed and the votes have already been tampered with thus not making it optimal at this stage.” “This is another tool to silence student activism,” Chirwa said. Wits Vuvuzela contacted University of Pretoria’s management for an update on the investigation and was told “all the processes regarding the SRC elections have not been finalized.”  


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Wits Soccer shoots for Nationals

HECTIC HEADER: During soccer practice at Diggs fields on Tuesday, Wits team captain Tebogo Digoamaje said he is confident in his team’s performance for their upcoming semi-final match against Tuks in the USSA Gauteng League, where a top three spot will get them to nationals.    Photo: Lameez Omarjee

HECTIC HEADER: During soccer practice at Diggs fields on Tuesday, Wits team captain Tebogo Digoamaje said he is confident in his team’s performance for their upcoming semi-final match against Tuks in the USSA Gauteng League, where a top three spot will get them to nationals.
Photo: Lameez Omarjee

If the Wits men’s soccer team beat Tuks, Pretoria University’s log leaders, next week, it will go through to the national finals of the University Sports South Africa (USSA) tournament in December.

Through this possible win at next week Tuesday’s match, Wits would attain one of the top three positions in the Gauteng USSA League and would then qualify for the national tournament to be held in Durban, in the first week of December.
Meeting for the second time with their opponents, Wits University football coach Karabo Mogudi said his men were more than prepared for Tuks.

Cruising through competition

“They are good football players; they play high intensity football which is a strong point for them. I’ve prepared the team to play the same as well. They must bring it on because we know we [are] going to bring it too,” said Mogudi.

Wits thrashed Tuks with a 3-1 win the last time there was a face-off between the two in August. Mogudi is confident his team could win against them again, even though the match is in Pretoria, on their rival’s home turf when they duel on Tuesday, September 23.

The rankings so far are as follows: Tuks first, Vaal University of Technology (VUT) second, Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) third and Wits, in fourth place.

Attaining a position in the top eight of the USSA national champs will then qualify Wits for the Varsity Football league. They did not qualify last year.

“The team should be the star. I don’t want individualism … if the team wins, the players shine. It’s that simple”

Wits team captain Tebogo Digoamaje, 2nd year BSc Property Studies, who joined the team last year felt that their performance this season was better because the squad was bigger. About 25 players are registered for the USSA Gauteng League. Last year the smaller team battled without squad rotations between games.

Digoamaje revealed that past lost matches were due to mistakes they had made, rather than their opponent’s performance.

Unshakable confidence

However, he had “full respect for every opponent” they played against. In preparation for their game against Tuks, he said, “We’ve implemented a number of strategies, various ones, and the coach will decide which will lead us to victory and get us to nationals.”

Left wing Neo Makua, 3rd year BSc Quantity Surveying, felt confident that the team will go through to national championships. “The coach made us become a team, so we put the team before the individual.”

Although there are strong individuals playing, Mogudi emphasised team play rather than individual stars. “The team should be the star. I don’t want individualism … if the team wins, the players shine. It’s that simple,” he said.

Mogudi is confident in the team’s tactics and credits his technical team, which consists: assistant coach Dumisani Thusi, goal-keeper coach Kgabo Ditsebe and team manager, Sanele Nene for developing new ideas and strategies for success.


STORIFY: Mixed reactions to “Blackface” at Tuks

Two students from the University of Pretoria have been expelled from residence after they posted photos of themselves dressed up as domestic workers, with their faces painted black, on Wednesday. They are being taken to task after the photo went viral across social media, as soon as it was posted.

Try, try, try again

SCRUMMAGE: Tuks trashed Wits 53-8 at their Varsity Cup match on Monday. This is the second loss for the team this season.  Photo: Caro Malherbe

SCRUMMAGE: Tuks trashed Wits 53-8 at their Varsity Cup match on Monday. This is the second loss for the team this season. Photo: Caro Malherbe

The manager of the Wits rugby club, Andy Royle, is worried about the lack of experienced players in the team and is concerned it will throw them off for this year’s Varsity Cup.

The drop in experienced students came as a surprise after eight failed to qualify academically, said sports officer Yvonne Swanepoel.

As per a Wits ruling, out of these eight, only three can be chosen to play as non students for the University, making the picking box only 25 players full, with 13 of these playing for the first time for Varsity Cup.

“In the beginning of the year we were quite healthy but then when a further two didn’t make it we were completely thrown off in preparation for the season,” said Royle.

In terms of experience and combinations, the squad is lacking in preparation and “can’t go out on the field and expect to get great results”, said Royle.

“We try to keep a balance where we have either two in the back and one in the front or the other way round, but the inexperience in the team has definitely thrown us out.”

Tuks thrashed Wits on Monday night 53-8. Royle said “the guys know what needs to be done and how they can improve and will keep fighting in every match of the season”.

Although the team has not been practising together for long, Royle feels it is still better than last year’s team and can only improve from here on.

The academic requirement for rugby players stands at a total of 48 academic points.  Any less than this does not necessarily go against Varsity Cup rules but Wits would not let them play.

Wits allocate points to all subjects. Dependent on the marks received, a certain amount of points will be given. For example: the subject Marketing may allocate X number of points for a student who got an A symbol, then X number for a B symbol and so on, according to Estelle Nobin, deputy registrar from the School of Commerce, Law and Management.



How to back your boytjies

Earlier this week the Wits Rugby team got smashed by Tukkies in Monday’s Varsity Cup match. Tuks is known for their rugby and being a physically aggressive team. Wits, not so much. The 53-8 thrashing drove this point straight home.

[pullquote]”Fifteen burly men, a ball that bounces funny and more than one way to score…”[/pullquote]

There are still weeks of Varsity Cup matches yet to come, which means many more beatings (for our team and others) so perhaps a primer is needed for those of us who are rugby neophytes but want an appreciation for the ruthless game.

Fifteen burly men, a ball that bounces funny and more than one way to score—sounds like my kind of game. Rugby is one of the only sports I enjoy watching because as a nation we tend to prosper in that field.

Wits and Tuks go head to head in a scrum. Photo: Caro Malherbe

Wits and Tuks going head to head in a scrum during their Varsity Cup match on Monday. Photo: Caro Malherbe

There’s something inspiring in knowing the team you’re backing actually stands a chance of winning (side-eyes Bafana Bafana). There is more to the game than hoping on a try though.

The 15 giants on each team are made up of eight forwards and seven backs, with a bench that allows for up to eight more players. Much like life, rugby is about scoring, in this case scoring the most points by the time the two 40-minute halves have run their course.

Kick-off starts after a coin toss, followed by a kick from the halfway line that flies at least ten metres. If unsuccessful, the opposing team gets to pick between a scrum (short for scrummage) or a line out to fight for the ball

A scrum is when die manne do that intense huddle that somehow requires giving one another wedgies, pushing and shoving until the ball is kicked backwards to the mouth of their teams scrum, passed to a halfback who will either run like Forest or kick like Montgomery.

There are three main ways to score points during the 80 minutes of play.

Firstly a try, running through the opposing teams line of defence and touching down in their goal area, this gets five points on the scoreboard.

Secondly, a conversion can add on another three points, after a successful try, the best kicker on the team (usually a flyhalf) gets a go at kicking the ball through the goalposts for what’s called a drop goal.

The Varsity Cup 2014 scoring system is slightly different to regular scoring where conversions are usually only worth two points. Another difference is that penalty kicks or drop goals are only worth two points, as opposed to three.

There are rules on rules on rules on how players tackle one another, go for the ball etc, but those are lessons for another day. Until then, take this primer and get out to a Varsity Cup rugby match and cheer for our boys in blue.


Wits Varsity Cup sorrows

Tuks receive another line out at the 10m mark. Photo: Caro Malherbe

WITS THRASHED: Tuks receive another line out at the 10m mark in their match against Wits last night. Photo: Caro Malherbe

Wits walked away empty handed at home after a crushing 53-8 loss against UP-Tuks, (University of Pretoria), on Monday night.

It was a disappointing loss as Wits struggled to establish themselves in a match reminiscent of the club’s poor performance in last year’s competition. The team finished last on the log in the 2013 season after failing to win a single match. 

Wits started off on a high note, scoring the first try of the match within the first five minutes, thanks to scrumhalf, Matt Torrence.

Tuks equalised two minutes later with a try by Wiaan Liebenberg. Former junior Springbok, Dries Swanepoel put Tuks in the lead with another try within minutes of the first. Missing the second conversion, the score stood at 8-13 to Tuks, 15 minutes into the game.

Wits  clearly lacked discipline and made some silly mistakes, handing over penalties and helping Tuks gain ground towards the try line where Swanepoel scored his second try of the match plus a cleared conversion. At half-time Tuks lead with 21-8.

A full Wits FNB Stadium shows their support while singing the South Africa national anthem. Photo: Caro Malherbe

A full Wits Rugby Stadium shows their support while singing the South Africa national anthem. Photo: Caro Malherbe

At half-time, the filled-to-capacity Wits Rugby Stadium were entertained by the Wits cheerleaders who now boast two male  members.

During the second half, Wits upped their defence preventing Tuks from scoring as they made a playfor the  close to the try line. At almost an hour onto the game, Tuks managed to push through with Swanepoel scoring his third try for his team, leading 29-8 after a successful conversion.

Tuks’ Swanepoel received a yellow card for a high tackle on fly half, Ashlon Davids. However, the officials seemed to have made a mess of things as Tuks continued with a 15 man team.

A further three tries were scored by Tuks captain ,Reniel Hugo followed by wing, Jade Stighling and replacement for Swanepoel, Leneve Damens scored the last try of the night, finalizing the scoreboard at 52-8.

Tuks, last year’s Varsity Cup champions, admittedly were surprised by Wits’ effort. Man of the match, Swanepoel said: “It was tougher than we thought it would be. Wits came in very hard but unfortunately it was our night.”

Wits coach, Andy Royle went into the game with only five members from last years’ final Varsity Cup match against UCT. A number of players did not meet Wits’ academic requirements and therefore have restrictions on their playing time. Royle was hoping his team would make a comeback after last year, but the lack of experienced players in the Wits side is going to make things tricky for the rest of the season.