Witsies uncover new dinosaur species in South Africa

RAIN LIZARD: Discovered by Wits PhD students, this is artist’s impression of what the newly described Pulanesaura dinosaur would have looked like. Photo: Provided.

RAIN LIZARD: Discovered by Wits PhD students, this is artist’s impression of what the newly described Pulanesaura dinosaur would have looked like. Photo: Provided.

A NEW species of dinosaur, the Rain Lizard, discovered in the Free State by a Wits team has revealed an exciting new picture of dinosaur development in South Africa.

Wits PhD student Blair McPhee, described it as a new species after he and Dr Jonah Choiniere, from the Evolutionary Studies Institute at Wits University, worked with a team unravelling the mysteries of the ancient creature.

“We used to think that only two species of dinosaur were present in South Africa. Now we know that the picture was much more complicated, with lots of species present. But the Rain Lizard is still special because it was doing something that all these newly discovered species weren’t,” McPhee said.

The discovery of the new dinosaur, Pulanesaura eocollum, meaning “Rain lizard”, shows the first evidence of dinosaurs making the transition to walking on four legs and browsing on the ground.

Pulanesaura was an early member of the long-necked sauropod lineage of dinosaurs, famously represented by Brontosaurus and has been described as small at about eight metres in length and 5 tonnes in body mass.

“This dinosaur showcases the unexpected diversity of locomotion and feeding strategies present in South Africa 200 million years ago. This has serious implications for how dinosaurs were carving up their ecosystems,” said McPhee.

Why is it called the “Rain lizard”? For one thing, it was pouring while they were excavating the skeleton. “Pulane” was also the childhood nickname of Panie Bremer, daughter of the owner of the farm where the dinosaur’s remains were found. And what does Pulane mean? It is Sesotho for “comes with rain”.

#BuildaPresident campaign comes to Wits

The #BuildaPresident campaign, inspired by former president Nelson Mandela, will kick off at Wits University this Tuesday, July 21. As part of Mandela day, event hosted by Drama for Life, will appeal to staff and students to make a pledge to good citizenship. Event activities a display a 3 000 citizen-driven image collage reflecting what the ideal South African president should be.

The #BuildaPresident campaign, inspired by former president Nelson Mandela, will kick off at Wits University on Tuesday, July 21. The Drama for Life department will host the event and plans to get the staff and Witsies to pledge to good citizenship.

Anzio Jacobs, event coordinator and Drama for Life student, said the pledge was created to honour the legacy of Mandela. Jacobs said he hopes the event will “draw attention to pertinent issues we face as a country”.

#BuildaPresident: 3 000 images, like this one, will cover the wall behind the Wits Art Museum facing Jorissen Street as part of the ongoing campaign aimed at fostering quality future leaders of South Africa. Photo: Evans Mathibe.

#BuildaPresident: 3 000 images, like this one, will cover the wall behind the Wits Art Museum facing Jorissen Street as part of the ongoing campaign aimed at fostering quality future leaders of South Africa. Photo: Evans Mathibe.

Part of the activities will include rebranding the wall at the university entrance on Jorrisson Street behind the Wits Art Museum (WAM). The rebrand will involve a collage of 3 000 images shared by people and showcasing their views on what an ideal South African president should be.

“We will rig a stage for keynote addresses from various stake-holders,” Jacobs said. “These addresses are intended to voice the university’s pledge to being a good citizen.”

Jacobs added that everyone in attendance will be asked to “record their pledge in order to show the overwhelming commitment of Wits University to a better South Africa.”

The event, which will begin at 13:15, will be hosted in collaboration with Wits Functions and Events, campus radio station VoWFM and the SRC (Student Representative Council).

“We trust that this will be the beginning of a great narrative of Wits doing its part in building a better nation for all,” Jacobs said.

For more information on the event visit the campaign website  or their Facebook page.

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Blind student opens up about attack on a Wits bus

Wits student Sisanda Msekele, who was attacked on a Wits circuit bus and hospitalised since last Friday night was discharged yesterday morning. She chatted briefly to Wits Vuvuzela about her ordeal. Wits University’s Campus Control Director, Robert Kemp, said the SAPS and Campus Control Investigations Section are investigating the matter. 

Wits Master’s graduate Sisanda Msekele, who was attacked and hospitalised last Friday night, was discharged yesterday morning after recovering from the severe injuries she sustained in the attack.

STRONGER: Sisanda Msekele and her guide dog Romy on the steps of Great Hall after her graduation at Wits University yesterday. Photo: Samantha Camara.

STRONGER: Sisanda Msekele and her guide dog Romy on the steps of Great Hall after her graduation at Wits University yesterday. Photo: Samantha Camara.

Msekele, who was discharged from Milpark hospital in Parktown yesterday morning, said she sustained a “severe bite on her upper lip”, had marks on her legs and bite marks on her hand and nipple.

“The girl who attacked me tried to go for my nipple,” Msekele said. “She was going for my nipple,” she reiterated.

Msekele, who is usually accompanied by her protective guide dog, Romy, said she was with a friend when the incident occurred and had left her dog at home. Msekele has declined to reveal the identity of her friend.

Robert Kemp, director of Wits Campus Control said that the incident was reported around 21h30 on Friday night.

“It is believed that the suspect is also a student,” Kemp added.

Kemp said Wits Campus Control officers went to Milpark Hospital, to gather details of the incident from Msekele on Friday night.

“The matter is currently being investigated by the SAPS [at Hillbrow police station] and Campus Control Investigations Section,” Kemp said.

Msekele told Wits Vuvuzela that “the experience has been very overwhelming” and that she needs some time before she can talk about it more openly.

Romantic hot spots on campus

If you are a romantic or just trying to build your credibility as one, here are some places on Wits East and West Campuses where you can ignite the flame or keep it burning.

Many students look for love and find it on campus. Witsies can grow that love by taking that special person to the romantic spots on campus.

1. Impress your date by taking her/him to the Olives & Plates on West Campus. The old architecture, fountain and beautiful garden makes this spot perfect for a romantic date.

olives

2. The grassy comfort and towering trees on West Campus lawn is the perfect setting to have a picnic or just relax with your Boo Boo.

tree

3. Have a smooch on the bridge when the waterfall on West Campus comes to life during summer and spring.

bridge

4. Feeling passionate? head to one of the quieter libraries for a little lunch time hanky-panky.

books

5. The fountain in front of the William Cullen Library on East Campus has a romantic tone with an intriguing garden with pink roses. Go sit on the benches and take in the picturesque scene.

will cullen

Witsie performs to raise tuition fees

Peaceful Thulare, a first year drama student, used her theatrical skills and performed to a paying audience on Saturday night in order to raise the balance of her tuition fees. She was denied a bursary to study and on the evening of the show, left in darkness due to load shedding. Surprisingly, she was thankful for the ambiance of the candlelight and the support from her family and friends. 

Load-shedding did not deter a first-year drama student from performing last weekend to raise the balance of her tuition fees. Denied a student loan, peaceful Thulare resorted to her childhood love, theatre, to help her pave her way.

As a little fourth grader, she wandered around Michael Mount Waldorf School with a picture version of Shakespeare’s play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She decided her class would perform the play, appointed herself director and assigned roles to her classmates. She performed her way through high school and found herself at Wits University eight years later.

Thulare needed to reach her goal of R4 000 after a very rocky start at Wits.

She applied to Wits, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the University of Cape Town (UCT), however due to financial constraints decided it would be best to remain closer to home.

Financial woes

Thulare applied for NFSAS funding and by January was told she was unsuccessful.

“I just tried to contact every person who could possibly help me,” she said.

Thulare was raised by her mom, a domestic who worked for Gwyn Dawson, who Thulare described as her “other mom”.

After Dawson moved to Cape Town in 2007, Thulare moved in with Tasha and Paul Tollman whom she described as “foster parents”.

Peaceful Thulare, 1st year drama student in character from Foursight, the play she performed last weekend to raise the balance of her tuition fees. Photo: Riante Naidoo

Peaceful Thulare, 1st year drama student, in character during Foursight, the play she performed last weekend to raise the balance of her tuition fees. Photo: Riante Naidoo

Financial hope arrives

Thulare’s mother managed to raise her registration fees from various family members and some of her own savings.

“My mom would do anything to get me into varsity,” Thulare said.

“Paul enjoyed listening to Hot 91.9,” Thulare said, “During that period they had a programme called Wings of Change and Tasha said we should email them with my story.”

After several months the radio station contacted Thulare to find out more about her story and sponsored her tuition with more than R 22 000.

With additional aid from two more family friends, Thulare required R4 000 more to reach her total.

“Tasha suggested the idea of a show to raise money” and Thulare said using her skills to raise the funds seemed like a “viable option”.

Despite load shedding, which left Thulare in candlelight on stage, about 40 people attended which helped her reach her R 4 000 target.

“Everyone was so generous,” she said, “people who didn’t even attend offered to donate money.”

“The candlelight added ambiance and I couldn’t have thought of a better way to have performed the show,” she said.

International student’s memo drafted

The SRC has drafted an international student’s memorandum which highlights their issues surrounding registration, the application process and up-front tuition payments among several other concerns. The memorandum will be handed to Deputy Vice-Chancellor Vilakazi on May 26.

The SRC has drafted a memorandum highlighting some concerns faced by international students at Wits.

The memorandum is said to detail issues which were raised at a meeting held by the SRC on April, 23 which invited international students to voice their grievances.

Students highlighted the registration fee, application process and 75% up-front tuition fee payment as some of their serious concerns.

Tanya Otto, the SRC’s international affairs officer, said the complaints were raised more strongly as a result of xenophobic attacks last month.

“The anger of international students came across when they said that these issues have been happening forever,” Otto said.

“The violence is an aftermath of what has been happening and institutionalised xenophobia is what’s allowing it to happen.”

The memorandum was compiled by Otto and other international student representatives.

SRC FOR CHANGE: Tanya Otto (left) and Shaeera Kalla (right) discuss fine tuning concerns for the international student's memorandum which they will present to the DVC later this month. Photo: Riante Naidoo

SRC FOR CHANGE: Tanya Otto (left) and Shaeera Kalla (right) discuss fine tuning concerns for the international student’s memorandum which they will present to the DVC later this month. Photo: Riante Naidoo

Shaeera Kalla, acting president of the SRC, described the initial meeting as “hostile” and said her concern is to get international lecturers at Wits to help “push the agenda for international students at Wits and their own issues”.

“I am looking at this memorandum as a first step to negotiations around international issues,” Kalla said.

“The SRC aims to create a platform for international students to feel comfortable enough to speak about their issues without feeling it is just going to be dismissed,” Kalla said.

The SRC felt there was a lack of response from international students at the initial meeting and said she saw the current memorandum as a “working document”.

“There needs to be more issues addressed in the memorandum that relate to other stakeholders,” Kalla said. She said these were international lecturers and international non-academic staff at Wits.

The SRC aims to have events throughout the year in which they can promote international cultures in order to “create a safe environment where international students feel like they are heard,” Kalla said.

Kalla added that the extent to which local students are willing to get involved in international students’ issues and assist them also needs to be acknowledged.

Otto said the memorandum was compiled last week Friday and the SRC will present the memorandum to Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Zeblon Vilakazi on May 26.

Otto and Kalla said of the 15 international student associations on campus, only four have responded and provided input for the memorandum.

“We can’t blame it on unresponsiveness and say that that is the reason for not addressing issues,” Kalla said. “What we need to do is create a space to encourage participation where international student societies don’t feel as though they don’t want to be involved.”

Kalla said the SRC is focused on creating an environment which can foster discussion.

She said they aim to eventually extend the memorandum to focus on broader issues regarding international students and academics issues with home affairs and issues faced by all international visitors.

“We want to contact other universities to discuss these issues and do something about it.”

“Red My Lips” against sexual violence

The Red My Lips campaign hosted every year in April to show support and encourage men and women to stand in solidarity against sexual violence was supported by Witsies this year. Here are 5 facts telling you more about the campaign.

If anyone was wondering whether there is a new red-lip frenzy on the rise, the “Red My Lips” campaign is the reason women have been pouting a little more this April. The campaign is not an opportunity for ladies to paint on red lipstick and embrace their inner diva, as many may think, but stand in solidarity against sexual violence. The campaign, which has spread worldwide, takes place in Sexual Assault Awareness month (April) to support rape victims.

Below are 5 facts about the “Red My Lips” campaign:

1. What is “Red My Lips”?
The “Red My Lips” campaign aims to create global awareness about the realities and prevalence of sexual violence, while trying to fight rape myths and stop victim-blaming.

Photo: Facebook

This image was used as the campaign’s trademark to inspire others to join the cause. Photo: Facebook.

2. When and why the campaign began, and by who?
The campaign began in 2011 by an American rape survivor, Danielle Tansino. She started the campaign due to the absence of family support and after she realised her perpetrator would not be prosecuted when a female district attorney told her: “Jurors don’t like girls that drink.” She has also campaigned to get men involved.

3. How far has the campaign spread?
The campaign has gained support in over 95 countries, including Australia, South Africa and India and Vietnam.

Red My Lips tweeted this image to indicate the support recieved from countries around the world. Photo: Twitter.

Red My Lips tweeted this image to indicate the support received from countries around the world. Photo: Twitter.

4. Why red lips?
“The societal idea of red lips is prostitution and women looking for trouble,” said Charlene Beukes, investigation and advocacy officer at the Wits Gender Equity Centre. Red lipstick violates this notion and is used to portray a bold statement and signify solidarity and support for victims of sexual violence. Founder, Tansino said “wearing red lipstick allows us all to stand in solidarity with survivors and refuse to be invisible … refuse to be silent.”

Witsies showed their support for the cause in April. Photo: Provided

Witsies showed their support for the cause in April. Photo: Provided.

5. What has Wits done to support the campaign?
Wits University hosted the #RedMyLips event on campus two weeks ago. The event was attended by manyWitsies including VoW FM, the Golden Key Society, SRC members, the VC, Professor Adam Habib and deputy VC, Tawana Kupe and male and female Witsies.

Wits guys also joined in to show their support at the event. Photo: Provided.

Wits guys also joined in to show their support at the event. Photo: Provided.

Witsies wrote message of encouragement and support for sexual violence victims. Photo: Provided

Witsies wrote message of encouragement and support for sexual violence victims. Photo: Provided.

Mcebo plays hide-and-seek

BACK IN: SRC President Mcebo Dlamini has been re-instated as a member of the SRC after being suspended. Photo: Tendai Dube

BACK IN: SRC President Mcebo Dlamini has been re-instated as a member of the SRC after being suspended. Photo: Tendai Dube

Mcebo Dlamini has been reinstated as a member of the SRC and is back as president—for now.

Dlamini was seen back in the SRC offices and at the Law School Election Council elections on Wednesday

Dlamini was charged with “assault” and insulting senior members of the university staff via emails last year. One of the charges stem from an email sent to the head of Residence Life, Rob Sharman.

The two charges were later combined into a single charge presented at the disciplinary hearing on February 27, where he was found guilty. Dlamini was then suspended from the SRC.

He announced his resignation as SRC President on Facebook on February 28 but, hours later, deleted the posts.

However, earlier this week Dlamini announced he had been reinstated as an SRC member and SRC president.

Dlamini announced on his Facebook page on Tuesday morning that his “suspension had been lifted” by Vice Chancellor Prof Adam Habib who he thanked for “doing the right thing”.

“In short I still remain as the Wits SRC President,” Dlamini said.

Habib confirmed that Dlamini had been reinstated pending a review of Dlamini’s hearing.

“In short I still remain as the Wits SRC President.”

“On an application from him [Dlamini], I suspended his termination from the SRC for two weeks until the review of his hearing is complete,” Habib said. “Otherwise we may have to revise the decision again and it would be disruptive. Now, we can make a final decision within the next two weeks.”

Throughout Dlamini’s suspension, resignation and reinstatement, his fellow Progressive Youth Alliance members have been studiously silent on the issue, refusing to comment publically.

SRC deputy president Shaeera Kalla told Wits Vuvuzela she “was not in a position to comment about Dlamini”.

Wits Vuvuzela has also attempted dozens of times over the past 10 days to contact Dlamini via emails, texts, phone, voicemails, whatsapps and even handwritten notes—all without success.

Wits Vuvuzela was at last able to make an appointment with Dlamini on Wednesday afternoon to finally get his side of the story. However, Dlamini did not pitch.

When contacted about the missed interview he replied via whatsapp: “As we speak I am at UJ attending a graduation.”

 

 

 

Crime wave sweeps through Braam

Witsies have spoken of their “disbelief” as they witnessed criminals mugging motorists and attacking fellow students in and around Braamfontein.

A group of four men have been targeting cars waiting in traffic next to Noswall Hall residence on Jan Smuts avenue this past week.

A male student, who asked to remain anonymous, said he saw the men running into traffic on Tuesday afternoon and initially could not understand what they were doing. Soon after, he saw them approach a car with its windows down.

“They reached in and stole his valuables. I got scared and realised they were mugging people in their cars who were stuck in traffic. I thought I’d be next so I just ran away,” he said.

Student Funeka Sibande said she had a similar experience last week when she was standing with a friend outside Noswall Hall.

“They came out of nowhere and were running between cars mugging people inside the cars. Two went to the passenger doors and two to the driver’s door taking anything they could see. I was in disbelief,” she said.

When they came back one of the muggers said: “We are not here for you guys.”

According to Sibande the mugger said: “We are targeting privileged people and whites in good cars.”

Minutes later they mugged “a white man in a Jeep who had his windows down”, Sibande said.

“They came out of nowhere and were running between cars mugging people inside the cars. Two went to the passenger doors and two to the driver’s door taking anything they could see. I was in disbelief.”

“We got away after that, they were dangerous. People need to be careful. Don’t leave your windows down and please don’t leave valuables where they can be seen,” she said.

This is just one of several muggings and “smash and grabs” that have been taking place in various areas around Braamfontein over the last two weeks.

Wits security and liaison manager, Lucky Khumela, said he was not aware of the gang outside Noswall Hall but would warn Wits security to be on the lookout and “increase security” in the area. He said he would also alert police in the area.

“Don’t leave your valuables. Lock your laptops and bags in your boot and keep cellphones out of sight. There is a rise in sporadic crimes in the area and we will do everything we can to keep our students safe,” he said.

Last week a red Volkswagen Polo was targeting students on Smit, Jorissen and Simmonds streets.

The vehicle is believed to have been involved in at least five muggings around the Braamfontein and Wits area.

On Saturday a female student was mugged of her cellphone by one of the assailants who distracted her and then climbed into the waiting red Polo driven by an accomplice and the two of them drove off.

The student ran to a guard who alerted other members of security in the area. According to Khumela, one of the security guards then saw the Polo waiting at a red traffic light on Simmonds street.

“He grabbed a metal pole and hit the back window and the side of the car as a way of trying to stop them from getting away,” said Khumela.

The car managed to get away but has not been seen in the area since.

Dlamini’s suspension lifted by Habib

Mcebo

BACK IN: A Facebook post on Mcebo Dlamini’s profile states that he has been re-instated onto Wits SRC. Photo: Facebook

The suspension of Wits SRC (Students Representatives Council) president Mcebo Dlamini has been lifted by the Wits vice-chancellor (VC).

Professor Adam Habib told Wits Vuvuzela that the decision to lift the suspension was not a final overturning of the ruling.

“On an application from him [Dlamini], I suspended his termination from the SRC for two weeks until the review of his hearing is complete,” he said, “Otherwise we may have to revise the decision again and it would be disruptive. Now, we can make a final decision within the next two weeks.”

Professor Andrew Crouch, the deputy vice-chancellor: academic also confirmed Habib’s sentiments.

“I can confirm that the vice chancellor agreed to suspend the termination of the SRC membership of Mr Mcebo Dlamini  pending the outcome of an appeal against the proceedings,” Crouch said a short while ago.

Dlamini was unable to speak to Wits Vuvuzela but a Facebook account in his name confirmed the VC’s decision.

According to a status update on the account this morning, Dlamini received an email from Habib who lifted his “suspension from office as president with immediate effect”.

“In short, I still remain the Wits SRC president for 2014/2015,” he wrote in the post.

Crouch added that Dlamini is allowed to return as a member of the SRC but was not re-instated as president by the university.

“The VC did not re-instate Mr Dlamini as SRC president, but suspended the termination of his SRC membership. It is up to the SRC to determine continuation of his Presidency of the SRC.”

Deputy president of the SRC, Shaeera Kalla said she was not in a position to comment at this stage.

Dlamini was originally charged with two counts of “assault” at disciplinary hearing on February 27. He was given a suspended sentence of expulsion and subsequently suspended as SRC president pending an appeal.

 

Playing Brave rock the stage

PB3

ROCKING OUT: Witsies (from left) Tish Singh, Stevan Johnson, Luke van Aardt and Ryan Deacon showcase their musical talents. Photo: Ilanit Chernick

New band on the Wits block, Playing Brave are not just your average boozing brood. Only six months old, their love for music shows in the way they speak, sing and act.

All Wits students, the band, which is an indie-garage rock genre, came together after meeting at a party where two of the members, Tish Singh and Stevan Johnson had already started playing acoustic music together a few weeks before.

Through Singh they met their bassist, Luke van Aardt and his “good mate”, drummer Ryan Deacon (who I must mention, is of Irish decent).

“Ryan is probably the best guitarist, drummer … you name it of the band!” said lead singer and rhythm guitarist, Johnson, “Ryan actually started out as a guitarist until we realised we needed a drummer.”

“And I was like ‘Hey, I can play drums too’ and that was it,” Deacon said.

Their music is inspired by art, contemporary cinema “especially films like Whiplash”, happy times and “of course break-ups”.

“We’re also inspired by other musicians, especially Josh Homme. He’s a phenomenal musician!” said Van Aardt

Playing Brave toured in Durban for a week recently and has also played at Cool Runnings, Smugglers and the Living Room in Maboneng.

The band’s favourite food is “Ryan’s moms’ spaghetti bolognaise”.

The band hopes to eventually make it to the Oppikoppi music festival because it’s one of the “best local rock festivals”.

“It’s the best place to be as a musician,” Johnson said. “We also hope to get an album out soon as well.”

Deacon told Wits Vuvuzela that conflict and rivalry within the band is kept to the bare minimum.

“If we have an issue with someone in the band, we hash it out there and then,” he said.

“Ja, we don’t let it build up. We’re all mates!” said Singh.

To chill out the band enjoy partying together, square-mosh dancing and rocking out to music which is what keeps them motivated.

“We just do things that remind us of why we are doing this, I love it,” said Singh.

The band’s favourite food is “Ryan’s moms’ spaghetti bolognaise” and when asked about what one would find in their garage fridge where they practice, Johnson joked, “lots of Baileys and Beer”.

The band wants to appeal to “young, fun and alternative” audiences who are willing to “dance their asses off”.

“Truth be told, none of us really want to be studying, if we could really make it as musicians we’d make that our full-time career,” Johnson said.

The bands next gig will be on March 20 at Sundowners.