Fear grips foreign students

Wits international students have been afraid to attend lectures and even leave their residences this week due to fear of xenophobic attacks.

One African-American student who lives at a residence on main campus she has been terrified of leaving the university ground.

“I stayed in my room the whole weekend until Monday,” she said.

Although no mass violence has broken out in Braamfontein, many foreign students have said they are afraid of walking the streets.

“Particularly students travelling from Kempton Park and Germiston.”

A Congolese student, who did not want to be named, told Wits Vuvuzela that he pretended to be sick and stayed home for the week.

“Luckily, the vice chancellor made a call that students can and should be excused for leaving lectures early, coming late and for missing class [due to xenophobia],” the student said.

The Congolese student stays in Kensington and uses taxis to commute to Wits. He did not want to go to Noord taxi rank or any place where there were groups of people.

“I was scared that they’d just attack me,” he said.

Wits Vuvuzela reported earlier this week on an attack on a Zimbabwean Wits PhD student who was brutally assaulted and robbed in a taxi on the way to Cresta Mall.

“There have not been any other attacks on Wits students but foreign members of the Wits community are scared,” said president of the Congolese Student Society Cedrick Tshizainga.

“Particularly students travelling from Kempton Park and Germiston.”

A University of Johannesburg lecturer, who’s a Zimbabwean national, was also allegedly attacked last Monday at his home in Mondeor. He has since fled to Zimbabwe with his wife and children.

Since the beginning of this month, violence against foreign nationals has left seven people dead and thousands more displaced to refugee camps. The psychological effects of the threat of violence seems to be permeating deeper than the literal physical violence.

According to IOL, many immigrants say they feel safer in refugee camps the website reported.

AGAINST XENOPHOBIA: Wits students protest against xenophobia at the 'Peoples march' on Thursday. Photo: Reuven Blignault

AGAINST XENOPHOBIA: Wits students protest against xenophobia at the ‘Peoples march’ on Thursday. Photo: Reuven Blignault


Gender violence awareness march not silenced by a tiny turnout

Silent Protest: The Girls Only South Point Residence spread gender violence awareness in Braamfontein.

SILENT PROTEST: The Girls Only Club at South Point Residence spread gender violence awareness in the streets of Braamfontein. Photo by: Lutho Mtongana

You could count the number of protestors on both hands but nothing would stop the small turnout from spreading their message about gender-based violence in Braamfontein yesterday.

The Girls Only Club, based at Southpoint residence, arranged a protest but only 10 people, including some men, participated by carrying bright pink posters and walking in silence.

The group marched from their residence in Melle Street along the streets of Braamies where women have been targeted many times by criminals.

The aim of the march was to send out the message that “women are not vulnerable, women are not weak”, as written on one of the posters carried by the marchers.

Yet another one of the posters read, “I am nobody’s punching bag”. On the street the group was stopped at various times by curious onlookers who asked for more information or posters.

Victor Karamba, a male gender activist who participated in the event said, “This is a good initiative because we still have a lot to do in terms of awareness and the issue of gender because we know that violence is a big issue among our society and I think this is something we have to do every day”.

Natasha Manyuku, one of the participants, believed that the, “purpose of the event was to get the message out” and she thinks they did, even though they expected a bigger turnout.

Selebano said, “Numbers don’t always mean success but the message that we send out and people stopping to ask questions, people getting the pamphlets, I think it was successful and I am very happy with the responses”.

“I think we achieved what we wanted to achieve, maybe not in a big scale but part of what we wanted to do was done”, Selebano added.

Apart from holding a silent march, The Girls Only Club provides a space for young girls to talk about their issues in all spheres of life throughout the year.

Initially, when the club started in 2011, the aim was to only focus on gender violence and since then, it has grown and changed with the need of females needing a safe space to talk about their problems.

SRC election battle escalates to legal war

By Thuletho Zwane and Nomatter Ndebele

The SRC elections could soon become a legal battle as the PYA (Progressive Youth Alliance) and Project W take legal action against each other. Tokelo Nhlapo, SRC vice president internal, has laid an official complaint with the Wits Legal Office following a confrontation with Jamie Mighti, Project W candidate and former debating union chairperson.

The incident that led to the complaint.

[pullquote align=”right”]“He said I must be careful and I am skating on thin ice.”[/pullquote]

Nhlapo alleges that Mighti told him to be careful and watch his ways.“He said I must be careful and I am skating on thin ice.This happened when Nhlapo and Mighti had a political debate about an article Mighti had written about “blacks being lazy”. “My contestation with him is that he can’t say blacks are lazy because of our history,” Nhlapo said.

Nhlapo said he was also uncomfortable with the sexist remarks Mighti made a few months ago on the Wits Debating Union facebook page. Nhlapo told Wits Vuvuzela that he had lodged the complaint in fear of his life. “What I want from him is that he must stay away from me… he’s violent.”

Project W responds.

Accused: Project W member Jamie Mighti pictured here with Henry Masuku  may have legal action taken against him.

Accused: Project W member Jamie Mighti pictured here with Henry Masuku may have legal action taken against him.

[pullquote align=”left”]“He [Mighti]] is being crucified. They bring out his history and they try to score cheap political points,” [/pullquote]

During an interview with the Project W campaign manager, Cebo Gila, a female student approached him and said, “Guys, please control Jamie… he can’t go around picking fights”. Gila said Project W needed to “protect” rather than control Mighti. “He [Mighti] is being crucified. They bring out his history and they try to score cheap political points,”

Gila said the opposition was preoccupied with personal attacks against Mighti for allegedly being violent and sexist , using his “history” to undermine Project W instead of engaging with the manifesto of the student action group.

“When he is being provoked on a daily basis to the point that he is being crucified, he is going to react,” Gila said. Gila said that members of Project W were being intimidated to the point where “I feel uncomfortable wearing this T-shirt”.“Do you understand that we have been bullied, we have been forced to change strategy, we have been victimized, our volunteers are told we are puppets,” he said.Gila also raised concern that Project W posters were being torn down.

Project W allegedly receives financial assistance from management.

[pullquote] “completely false

accusations” [/pullquote]made against it.

SRC treasurer, Justice Nkomo, claimed that Project W had received R500 000 from Wits management. He said Project W misled the students because it presented itself as humanitarian.“They ran it [Project W] as a charity campaign but it has a political agenda,” Nkomo said. “They are collecting cans [of food] now; were people not starving in March and April?”

Project W is considering seeking legal avenues to deal with the“completely false accusations” made against it. Gila said that Project W never misrepresented itself. “The misconception is an incompletion of how they [the PYA] understand Project W,” Gila said.

Mighti declined to comment on the incident with Nhlapo and referred Wits Vuvuzela to Gila. Gila said the incident was “regrettable, from both parties”. Wits Vuvuzela was not able to reach the Wits Legal Office for comment.

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