Residents of Esselen Residence occupied Residence Life Offices in Park Town, with a memorandum of grievance, on Friday.
According to the House committee members, Head of Residence life Rob Sharman made various promises and one of them include a resolution about the building next to Esselen and the closing of Esselen Street, after a shooting that occurred last year in Esselen.
ARC President Mxolisi Sopiseka handing over the Memorandum to the head of Residence Life Rob Sharman.
“Last year there was a shooting, even Habib and Pamela Dube came to Esselen to listen to us, but nothing has been done since then” said Thero Montwedi, Vice-Chairperson of the house committee.
Precious Maseto told Wits Vuvuzela that “the problem is not Hillbrow, but the building next to Esselen” she said “that building is dirty, their sewage system passes through Esselen”.
“I don’t know if it’s because we are staying in Hillbrow that we are subjected to such conditions, we are also Wits Res Students”
Florence building making life for Esseleners, a living hell
According to the students, Florence building (the building next to Esselen residence) has made their living conditions a living hell and their study environment very unfavourable.
“The environment is not conducive for learning, in the study room there’s sewage dropping from the building from next-door” said Montwedi “I don’t know if it’s because we are staying in Hillbrow that we are subjected to such conditions, we are also Wits Res Students” he said.
Luyanda Mgidlana said “the main problem is the building at the back, the sewage and the crime comes with it”.
When the memorandum was being read out to Sharman, house members started shouting, showing their dissatisfaction with the fact that it did not include the inconveniencies caused by the new bus schedule.
Dissatisfaction with bus service
“I Esselen ayinama Directi!” shouted one person from the crowd, saying Esselen has no direct bus.
Majority of the students are Education students and the new bus system has caused a lot of inconveniences.
“The bus picks up people from Education campus, drop them at Esselen then goes to Amic Deck, after it picked up people at Esselen, rather than going back to Education Campus again” said Lerato, Esselens safety and security officer.
Head of Residence life, Sharman has refused to issue a public statement.
He said “it would be ethically unwise to make a public statement, until we have responded in writing to the students on their memorandum”
The Chairperson of All Resident Council (ARC) and Esselen, Mxolisi Sopiseka told Wits Vuvuzela that the purpose of the march was to make students aware of Esselen and its problems, as it is not an Esselen Problem but a residence issue.
“Students get affected, whether they stay at Esselen or not” he said “you find people who get excluded at Junction and Noswal moving to Esselen”.
“Even those who stayed at Esselen for four years, if you ask them if they applied to Esselen one thing you would find that is common is that they never applied” he said “we all went to Esselen because of circumstances”.
SRC President Mcebo Dlamini, addressed the residence of Esselen and said “we are told it is a privilege to be at University, thus we must obey?” he said “enough is enough, this is not a protest but a rock up”.
A group of students have come together to “make Wits better”. Project W was formed by a diverse group of students from various degrees, clubs and societies.
The group has come together under the motto “make Wits better” in an attempt to change the way students experience Wits.
The group is starting with a food drive, called “Give-A-Can” running until the month of September.
Tapiwa Gozhore, 3rd year BA told Wits Vuvuzela , that Project W was about showing that students care about one another.
“It’s high time we have people connecting with the students, “he said.
Ethan Genende Donates a can of beans in the Project W donation Bin outside the matrix.
For students by students
Gozhore also raised a concern, that the SRC, that should be representing the students, was overly concerned with politics rather than the well-being of students on campus.
It is for this reason that Project W is running the “Give-a-Can” initiative to help less fortunate students, who do not have the means to feed themselves.
“There are a lot of students on campus that do not have food, and it is difficult to concentrate on an empty stomach,” said Gozhore.
Project W will be working hand in hand with the Wits Volunteer programme and the Dean of Students’ assistance program.
The food collected will be distributed through the Wits Volunteer programme.
Making Wits better is an ongoing initiative for Project W. While they are starting with a food drive, they plan to have many more on-campus initiatives in the future.
Project W also a launched a signature campaign, collecting signatures from students and encouraging them to come forward and raise their concerns at the town hall called by the wits university administration yesterday.
Ethan Genende, 4th year BComm Law, presented the petition with three thousand signatures to Prof Adam Habib. Habib said that he was happy to have them.
Students are encouraged to take part in the “Give-a-Can” campaign, by donating food at various collection points.
The collection points for the food drive are outisde the gaming room in the matrix and at the medical campus cafeteria.
In the weeks to follow, there will also be collection points at OLS on East Campus, FNB Building on West Campus and at the Business School and education campuses.
By Thuletho Zwane and Ray Mahlaka
JULIUS Malema’s new political party is targeting Wits to gain more supporters.
Witsie and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) executive member, Innocent Thombothi, Political Science and International Relations Honours, said that Witsies were showing interest in the EFF.
“We do have supporters on campus. Most [of them] are people in the SRC, ANCYL and the YCL [Young Communist League], and members of the PYA [Progressive Youth Alliance],” Thombothi said.
He said it was difficult for “comrades” to come out and admit they were members or supporters of the EFF because they still had to serve their elected official terms in their respective organisations.
“They are still deployed in the PYA. There’s a conflict of interest. Maybe after the PYA elections [in August]. Most can’t disclose now. EFF is here, it is in Wits,” Thombothi said.
The EFF is a “radical and militant” political movement founded by former ANC Youth League President Malema.
It is a leftist movement whose policies include land expropriation without compensation, nationalisation of the banks and national resources, free education and health and opening South African borders to Africans.
[pullquote]”We do have supporters on campus. Most [of them] are people in the SRC, ANCYL and the YCL [Young Communist League], and members of the PYA [Progressive Youth Alliance]” [/pullquote] SRC treasurer, Justice Nkomo, however, said the EFF had no support at Wits. He said the EFF was holding an event at Wits but had to cancel it because most Witsies attended a talk by ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe.
“They wanted to infiltrate. If EFF was strong, they would be able to influence our own people,” Nkomo said.
“Those people who have crossed have always been politically irrelevant.”
Trevor Mkhawana, 2nd year Mining Engineering, said he knew a lot of people who support the EFF. “They believe in Malema. They got disillusioned by Zuma.”
Witsie Mabhoko Mojela said if the EFF won the 2014 elections, SA would turn into a banana republic.
“[But], the presence of Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, [EFF spokesperson] allows me to give EFF the benefit of the doubt. I trust his intellectual opinions and the good work he has done in the student organisations on campus.”
Puleng Tsehla, 2nd year Media Studies, from Lesotho, said she supports the EFF because the new party promotes open boundaries in Africa.
She said South Africans are always welcome in other African countries.
Other Witsies in the EFF include Floyd Shivambu who is studying his MA in political studies, Andile Mngxitama who has completed an MA in sociology and Ndlozi, a PhD politics candidate.
Just EFF’ing around? July 19, 2013
UJ says no to EFF July 29, 2013
[VIDEO] Do Witsies know the EFF? July 19, 2013
The SRC said they weren’t surprised the university was under financial pressure from Israel lobbyists not to drop the charges against 11students charged for disrupting the performance of an Israeli-born pianist.
“[The SRC] suggest our refusal to do so [drop the charges] emanates from the pressure from donors who support Israel. There have indeed been some individuals who have threatened to withdraw their donations,” said Habib and Nongxa on a Business Day article.
SRC secretary Tasneem Essop said “It is easy to draw a link between the university refusing to drop the charges and the financial threats made from donors who support Israel”. She said the reason the charges were not dropped is because financial and political pressure from Israel lobbyists.
Eleven students, nine of which are SRC members, were charged with possible contravention of university rules after they protested at the performance during Israel Apartheid Week
“11 members of the Wits community allegedly violated university rules, impinged on the rights of others, broke up the concert and in effect violated academic freedom, we acted and subjected them to disciplinary hearings,” said Habib and Nongxa.
Essop added that a day after the March 12 protest, at about 8.am, Habib and Nongxa released a statement distancing themselves from the student protest.
“They were in New York, they received threats from pro-Israel lobby,” said Essop.
She said the university chose to charge the 11 students but didn’t do anything when they were assaulted by members of security and were sworn at by people attending the Israeli-funded concert.
“We were called monkeys, savages, Muslim agitators. We were even told to ‘go back to the jungle where you belong’ but the university chose to charge the 11 students and did nothing [about the Israeli supporters],” said Essop.
Habib said they have not received any written complaint about the allegation: “If the SRC feels that this has happened, they should lay an official complaint and the matter will be investigated as per due process.”
Habib and Nongxa said Wits was neither a political party or a civil movement. “Wits has not taken a position to boycott Israel,” they said.
Mbuyiseni Ndlovu a PHD politics student who is one of the 11 students charged said the statement was nonsense: “Israel implements systematic racial discrimination. We can’t be neutral in such a state. Wits took sides during Apartheid. Wits took sides with the Dalai Lama. They can’t claim this neutral nonsense.”
The disciplinary hearing against the 11 charged students has been postponed to July 16.