Student attacked on Wits bus days before graduation

Wits student Sisanda Msekele, who was attacked on a Wits circuit bus on Friday night, spent the weekend in Milpark hospital in Parktown, Johannesburg. Her attacker has not yet been identified, but is reportedly a fellow Wits student.

Sisanda Msekele, a blind Wits Masters student, found herself confined to a hospital bed this weekend after she was attacked by a fellow Wits student.

Msekele said the incident took place on Friday night, on a Wits bus, when she was on her way back to her residence at West Campus Village. She declined to comment further until she has recovered from her injuries.

A series of tweets yesterday from talk show host and Sunday Times columnist, Redi Thlabi, said Msekele’s attacker mocked her “dream of a PhD” which led to an argument, and the subsequent attack.

Thlabi added that Msekele had been searching for a job since the beginning of the year and was due to start tomorrow.

Msekele faced homelessness and financial problems earlier this year. She was fortunate enough to have received financial assistance from the university and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) which allowed her to remain in residence and made it possible for her to register for her PhD.

Msekele has been in Milpark hospital since the attack and could possibly miss her graduation on Tuesday. 

Msekele is optimistic that she will be discharged from Milpark hospital tomorrow, depending on the progress of her recovery.

Wits Campus Control was not able to comment on the incident. 

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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.