Debating access to HIV treatment 

The Wits Pharmacy Student Council (WPSC) and the Sefako Makgatho Health Science University (SMU) explored the pros and cons of PIMART in South Africa.

Pharmacists from both Wits University and SMU debated the issue of HIV treatment relating to the Pharmacist-Initiated Management of Antiretroviral Therapy implementation at the Wits Education Campus on Friday, July 28.  

The Wits team argued in favour of the treatment, while SMU argued against it.  

PIMART appeared in the Government Gazette for implementation in August 2021. This type of therapy would allow pharmacists to administer HIV medication without a script or medical consultation from a general practitioner. 

The Independent Practitioner Association (IPA) has taken PIMART to court claiming that pharmacists are not qualified enough to supply ARVs, which formed the foundation of the debate. The IPA represents all primary healthcare practitioners in independent private practice

Former South African Medical Association chairperson, Dr. Angelique said the move would allow for “unfair competition”, as pharmacists would “compete with general practitioners whilst not having the necessary qualifications.”

A pharmacy student from the SMU team, Covenant Ngomana, argued that PIMART is needed to address the “high volume of HIV-related deaths in South Africa” due to lack of treatment. Statistics show that 94.2% of South Africans know their HIV status but only 75% seek treatment.  

Wits pharmacy student, Maria Phalane, disagreed, she said pharmacists mainly work in the private sector with only “27% of South Africans in private healthcare, leaving 73% [of the majority] uncatered for.” 

Dr. Maria Eksteen, a professional in pharmacy education, told Wits Vuvuzela that “PIMART has a valuable place in the South African healthcare context,” and added that pharmacists are the “most accessible healthcare professionals, [changing] the game in terms of accessibility to treatment for employed and uninsured patients.”  

Eksteen adds that PIMART is definitely “part of many solutions to Africa’s high HIV infection rates,” with an estimated 13.2% of South Africans living with HIV in 2022.  

It is unclear at this point whether PIMART will be fully implemented in South Africa, but the debate was meant to help “raise awareness and promote a discussion around PIMART,” said WPSC member, Lethokuhle Ndaba.  

Although the IPA and some practitioners are against PIMART, the debate highlighted how it could help increase the treatment rates of HIV positive patients throughout South Africa. 

FEATURED IMAGE: Students watching and discussing the PIMART Debate at Wits’ Education Campus in Parktown. Photo: Georgia Cartwright


PROFILE: Kalanga Muya striding to greatness 

A young and energetic long jumper excels with unwavering passion and dedication in long jump.  

Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and raised in South Africa from an early age, Kalanga Olivia Muya (20) recently set a new personal best of 5.54 metres at the University Sport South Africa (USSA) long jump qualifiers.  

Muya’s journey began when she enrolled at the University of Johannesburg in 2020, studying towards a degree in BCom business management. She caught the attention of her current coach, coach Patience Ntshingila.

Long jumper Kalanga Muya in action at the Free State athletic stadium. Photo: Supplied

Recognising her potential at the UJ stadium when Muya participated in the first-year athletics. Ntshingila, who is also a former long jumper herself, scouted Muya into the world of long jump.

Muya said she has always been athletic. “In my primary school years, I played netball, tennis and ran cross country. “While in high school, I played soccer and did high jump, sprints and short hurdles,” Muya said.  

Her sister Hervine Muya told Wits Vuvuzela that, “Olivia has dedication and perseverance when it comes to athletics, when her first jumps are not always the best or up to her standards, she doesn’t give up easily.” 

Muya said that sports not only sculpted her physique but also instilled vital life lessons. She added, “achieving my goals requires commitment, a lot of focus and hard work, because you can’t get to where you want just by simply showing up to training sessions but putting in effort.” 

Bethel Makoni, a BCom honours in quantitative finance student and Muya’s teammate, told Wits Vuvuzela that Muya’s greatest strength is how she embodies hard work. “[Olivia] understands that great performances don’t come easy and she’s willing to do the work that yields those performances,” said Makoni.  

Muya believes that her own capabilities have been boosted by the inspiring performances of athletes such as Tara Davis and Shaunae Miller-Uibo. Muya said her peers are also a source of inspiration, “I look at other athletes that I am surrounded by and seeing how hard they work and how well they perform pushes me to want to become better.”  

Muya said her most memorable achievement in her long jump career was “hitting a new personal and seasonal best of 5.54 metres at the USSA championships” which were held on May 5, 2023. 

 Juggling school and sports has been difficult. “I don’t really think there is even a balance if I am being real, but my school timetable is usually favourable to my training times, if I am not training or competing then I am focusing on academics,” Muya said.  

While long jump dominates Muya’s life, she remains grounded in her faith. She considers herself a ‘prayer warrior’, acknowledging that her strength, energy, and support system are gifts from God.

FEATURED: Kalanga Muya landing after a jump at the Germiston stadium. Photo: Supplied


How social marketing can bring about behavioural change  

Wits highlights how digital platforms, through marketing, can be used as a tool to combat issues that society faces  

The Wits Business School hosted Africa’s first social marketing Association Conference at the professional development hub on east campus, last week, from April 24 to 26. 

The conference was held to promote the use of social marketing — an advertising approach which focuses on influencing people’s behavior with the primary goal of achieving a common good.  

The aim of the conference was to highlight how this form of marketing can combat some of the serious health, social, and environmental issues Africa faces, especially South Africa. 

The event brought together hundreds of academics, practitioners, and social policy makers from across the world to discuss the work they do; and how social marketing is practically solving real life issues. 

Andy Du Plessis, managing director of Food Forward SA discussed how their non-profit company uses a system of virtual food banking to reduce hunger. This is a digital platform that links its beneficiary organisations to the closest participating retail store to collect perishable and non-perishable foods, which in turn is used to feed thousands of people daily.  

The conference included discussions around corruption, which is an extremely prevalent issue in South Africa. Social justice activist Kavisha Pillay at Corruption Watch said besides working to provide a platform for reporting corruption, the organisation has also done campaigns that allow people to denounce wrongdoing.  

One of those campaigns is the “My hands are clean” initiative which encouraged South Africans to post a photo of themselves online holding up one hand, which is a sign that they are taking a stance against corruption. 

Pillay said they did this because, “confronting corruption begins with behavioural change.”  

Head of the Wits Business School, Helen Duh told Wits Vuvuzela, that the conference created opportunities for social marketing scholars to learn “from practitioners and practitioners to learn from scholars”. 

Duh then said that the school’s focus area of research was, “sustainability and well-being,” and that the conference allowed for scholars to, “reflect, debate, discuss, and recommend solutions to the various societal and environmental problems.”

She said she hopes the discussions will attract more workshops and seminars in these areas in the future.  

Chair Head, Professor Debbie Ellis from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Professor Gael O’Sullivan from Georgetown University, USA, and Leah Taub from Premise, USA preparing to engage in a discussion with scholars at the African Social Marketing Association Conference on April 25, 2023. Photo: Georgia Cartwright

FEATURED IMAGE: Leah Taub from Premise, USA giving a talk on Crowdsourcing and how it can be used to gather useful information at the Social Marketing Conference on April 25, 2023. Photo: Georgia Cartwright


Orlando Pirates grab Wits Kudus by the horns

The dream to finish in the top five of the Johannesburg Men’s Regional League takes a knock as Wits lose at home.

Wits Kudus Football Club lost 2-3 after a nail-biting match against Orlando Pirates Football Club on Saturday, April 22, at the Wits Marks Park Sports Club in Emmarentia.

This came after two consecutive losses in the Johannesburg Men’s Regional League against Inqaba FC and Orange Army FC. As a result, the Kudus remain in ninth place, while Orlando Pirates FC are fourth. 

The scorching sun foreshadowed the high intensity match that was to come as Orlando Pirates dominated the first half of the match with Siyabonga Ngwenya, France Modiba and Lukho Ziwele scoring within 35 minutes. Wits striker Siyamdumisa Zulu managed to secure their first goal in the 40th minute.  

During the second half, Kudu midfielder Thembalethu Machaba came to the rescue in the 63rd minute by scoring the team’s second goal. Pirates goalkeeper, Jayden Van Der Walt, successfully blocked a goal attempt by left winger, Sithembiso Mkhwanazi, in the 87th minute.  

Kudus goalkeeper Samkele Shilubana was not happy about the team’s performance in the first half. “It was a bad game. My first mistake [was] within the first [few] minutes of the game which led to a drop in the confidence of the team [and] from that point [onwards] the whole game just switched.”  

Orlando Pirates player, Malesela Modiba, and Wits Kudus player, Katlego Moruane, race for the ball. Photo: Rethabile Mafisa

However, he remained hopeful for the next game. “It is just a matter of working harder to rectify mistakes in the next game which will boost [the team’s] confidence and take on the remaining games in the league perfectly,” said Shilubana.  

A spectator, Paballo Mazibuko, commended the Kudus for taking more control of the game in the second half and said Pirates were lucky not to concede more goals. 

With 33 points, the Kudus have seven games left to try for a spot in the top five of the league.

Kudus coach Musawenkosi Ngobese commended striker Siyamdumisa Zulu for his performance. “He has been a better player for the past couple of games. He showed a lot of consistency and hunger and fighting for the team, but unfortunately a team consists of 11 players; you cannot do it alone.”  The Kudus’ next match is scheduled for April 27 against Bossolona FC at Trezona Park, Roodepoort. In their previous encounter, on March 15, the Kudus beat Bossolona FC  4-3. 

FEATURED IMAGE: Wits Kudus distraught after losing against Orlando Pirates at Marks Park Sports Club on Saturday April 22. Photo: Rethabile Mafisa


SLICE: Online gaming got me through lockdown 

While gaming is not a cure for depression, it helped me to grow into a more social person, to form connections with people more easily, and helped me to feel less isolated.  

During the covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the lack of social interactions tied together with the fear and anxiety driven by fake news and conspiracies around vaccines in the media, caused my mental health to plummet.  

It was my first year of university and before I had had a chance to form connections on campus, we were thrown into a state of disaster and the country was placed on lockdown. I spent weeks feeling sorry for myself, not knowing how to entertain myself nor who to speak to besides my family who I had been locked in the house with for over three months. Eventually I turned on my PlayStation console for solace. 

While there was access to mental health services during the pandemic, many people had physical and mental restrictions that prevented them from seeking help. A democracy survey conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council and the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Social Change and Development revealed that in 2020, an estimated 33% of South Africans were depressed, 45% were fearful of catching the virus and 29% were feeling isolated and lonely. The survey consisted of 19 330 participants of different races and backgrounds, with the majority aged 25 to 59. 

I shared the sentiments expressed in the survey. That is why I turned to gaming to connect and create a reality that was less depressing than the one I found myself in. 

Gaming was my way of coping with the lack of human interaction and fewer entertainment activities brought on by the nationwide lockdown. In June 2021, Forbes Technology Council reported  an increase of 200% in people aged over 60 searching for games, joining the 93% of teens who game regularly, according to research data provided by – the world’s biggest digital marketplace for gamers. 

These statistics show that people globally turned to gaming during the pandemic because of the need to find alternative ways to connect and communicate with others amidst lockdown measures. I also wanted to alleviate my newfound depression brought on by harsh lockdown measures. 

I started playing a multiplayer, online game called Call of Duty where I met a group of people that I consider close friends to this day. We began entering e-sports competitions where we could compete in online tournaments for cash rewards. We would do this by signing up on sites such as the African Cyber Gaming League and VS Gaming where you can connect with other people who enjoy the same game as you, and became part of a large community of people from diverse backgrounds and walks of life.

Gaming has helped me overcome social anxiety by allowing me to socialise in virtual chatrooms with people from all over the world, where I have learnt better communication skills and have been able to find people I relate to more. I always struggled to find something I was passionate about as I was not very good at schoolwork and failed dismally at sport. Finding games helped me discover my true passion for e-sports and unlocked a whole new world for me. 

There are, however, studies that have found negative aspects to gaming. The Harvard Medical School reported that gaming can be associated with serious health risks such as sleep deprivation, insomnia, depression, aggression and anxiety. The report also stated that gaming can lead to a “gaming addiction”, resulting in loss of interest in activities and crucial relationships with peers, and can lead to obesity due to increased food intake while gaming. These are real issues that gamers do face, however, a general population sample report from the American Journal of Psychiatry shows that only an estimated 0.1-1% of people suffer from gaming addiction.

An American Counselling Association report also found that gaming could have negative mental health consequences including: negative coping mechanisms, unhealthy lifestyles, loneliness, isolation and depression. However, in my experience, gaming has had quite the opposite effect.

Gaming in moderation is key for absorbing the positive effects such as setting specific times to game and making sure to seek professional help when needed. To avoid the negatives associated with gaming, the Harvard Medical School suggests limiting screen time and engaging in healthy activities such as exercise or socialising physically.

Anxiety and depression are major issues the world faces today, especially after the pandemic as it has altered and changed the lives of almost everyone. Gaming is a great way to alleviate some of the strain caused by these serious mental illnesses. There are many different genres of games, so I truly believe there is a game out there for everyone to play and form connections in.  

FEATURED IMAGE: Georgia Cartwright. Photo: File


Students slam Auckland Park private digs

Residents contend with crumbling buildings, leaking roofs, infestations and absent, uncaring landlords.

Students staying at Auckland Park private residences are complaining that the landlords continually increase rent while not maintaining the residences. 

Complaints about My Student Pad, Accommodation For Students and 2 Mortlake student accommodation include that there is mould on the walls, toilets are leaking and there are insect infestations.  

From the outside, My Student Pad appears as if in a good condition, but from the back, the paint is flaking from the walls. Accommodation For Students looks neglected and its small garden is full of litter. The 2 Mortlake building looks bright with orange paint, but inside the toilets and taps are leaking, and the roof leaks when it rains. 

My Student Pad is owned by Boingotlo Tlale. She told Wits Vuvuzela that rent for single rooms ranges from R3 700 to R4 200 and for shared rooms from R2 700 to R3 500 per person, with an increase of R50 every year. Tlale said that as a property owner, she always has someone on call to manage maintenance and that the only problem she has is that some maintenance work is delayed because students do not pay their rent on time. 

However, Wits first-year bachelor of arts student Phenyo Mthombothi said that My Student Pad is not value for money and the rent does not match the condition of the rooms and the lack of service provided.  

The paint is flaking off the walls of My Student Pad student accommodation in Auckland Park. Photo: Nonkululeko Mncube

“The place is poorly managed and cleaned only once or twice a week. The floors are dirty, with mould on the walls, and the house has an unpleasant smell,” said Mthombothi, who added that she reports maintenance issues every week over the phone because the caretaker is rarely present, and “the owner never shows up”.  

When presented with this accusation by Wits Vuvuzela Tlale dismissed the query, saying, “I am busy.” 

A caretaker at one of the Auckland Park student residences who did not want to be identified, told Wits Vuvuzela that, “It is challenging for me to fix anything without funding and equipment. Also, there is no easy access to the landlord.”  

Mathaare Kganakga, a Wits student studying BSc in mining engineering, who resides at 2 Mortlake said that there had been numerous complaints to the caretaker about the leaking toilets and crawling insects. 

“I pay R4 000 per month and I cannot say I am satisfied with this place, but it is the only accommodation I can afford. Wits residences are expensive,” Kganakga said.  

The students said the Auckland Park private accommodation is inferior to that of South Point whose website boasts of safe, clean, convenient and affordable 15 buildings around Johannesburg, some of them right across the street from Wits in Braamfontein. Single rooms cost R4 038, and double and triples from R3 868 per person.  

“[Unfortunately] South Point was full by the beginning of February. I could not book a room, and their rooms are clean and well maintained,” said Kganakga. He added that students without bursaries or scholarships are condemned to stay in the dilapidated private accommodation in Auckland Park as it is more affordable. 

Wits Vuvuzela reached out by phone to the owner of 2 Mortlake who goes by the name ‘Yusuf’ but he refused to be interviewed, saying “I cannot help you with that information.”  

FEATURED IMAGE: The unnamed Accommodation For Students looks neglected and its small garden is full of litter. Photo: Nonkululeko Mncube


REVIEW: The Old and Beautiful return to the stage 

A fantastic performance riddled with anecdotal but relatable scenes, tied together with beautiful music, making it a must watch for theatre lovers. 

Wits University School of Arts lecturer, Fiona Ramsay and pianist Tony Bentel perform at the Iyabuya iPOPArt festival to showcase their talents and successful careers with over 35 years in the South African entertainment industry. 

The talents of Ramsay and Bentel’s Old and the Beautiful, helped wrap up the festival as the final act on March 30 and 31, 2023, at the Red Roof Theatre in Milpark. The festival had a three month run from January 2023, with performances from a range of artists at various venues.  

Wits School of Arts lecturer, Fiona Ramsay and pianist Tony Bentel smiling and posing for the camera on stage with a spotlight lighting up their faces before their Old and Beautiful performance at the AFDA Red Roof Theatre in Milpark during the Iyabuya Festival on March 31, 2023.
Photo: Georgia Cartwright

The show opened with a spotlight centered on Ramsay surrounded by props of head statues bejeweled with fancy gems indicating wealth, with Bentel playing an upbeat tune. The pair then moved quickly into the next scene with jokes about how covid-19 gave people the ability to hide their identities because of the thousands of masks that were purchased, a joke received with loud, unmasked guffaws.  

Ramsay and Bentel put on a show filled with humorous anecdotes related to the covid-19 pandemic, unemployment, loadshedding, gender inequality, and the unavoidable fact of getting old. The dynamic duo made reference to the well-known works of Marianne Faithfull and singing “Maybe this time” in their reenactment of the Broadway show Cabaret

Each scene in the performance draws upon different issues people face in South Africa while adding a witty twist to create the ultimate form of escapism. The show begins with, “Who doesn’t want to be rich,” a song about struggles artists face when looking for work and the reality of unemployment in the arts industry. The stage props help set each scene with props of clown noses worn by Ramsay and Bentel to indicate that the real jokes are themselves for believing they could have successful careers in the arts but that their optimism, along with a little dope, helps them cope. 

While the show deals with dull, often depressing topics, it also manages to make light of these issues through a satirical lens. When asked for their thoughts by Wits Vuvuzela, one audience member called it, “depressingly humorous”. Ramsay brings unique characters to life, such as Denise from an old age home in Welkom, who is staring “death” in the face while reliving her memories. The soundtrack to this is a mix of dramatic and calm classical music played by Bentel, which perfectly scores the emotional scenes as they unfold.  

The stage is set with props and rugs from Bentel’s lounge, the stage of the pair’s first performance together eight years ago.  Ramsay describes their act as a “satirical look on the madness of life,” and says that “if you don’t laugh, you get too stiff and serious but if you laugh, you are able to escape a little and move forward.” 

The lighting changes for each scene and seems to reflect the emotions felt in every act – blue for the sadness and loneliness felt when getting old and red for the frustration brought on by loadshedding and potholes. Each scene tells a story of its own while adding the razzle dazzle qualities associated with theatre, a truly spectacular experience.  

When asking the event organiser, Hayleigh Evans said the show exceeded her expectations, and going forward she hopes, “[Having] a live and consistent, permanent program where performers can thrive”, will bring people together.  

Ramsay and Bentel are currently both working on projects of their own but plan on having many more magical performances together in the future. 

FEATURED IMAGE: Wits School of Arts lecturer Fiona Ramsay singing during her performance of the Old and Beautiful at AFDA’s Red Roof Theatre in Milpark during the Iyabuya Festival on March 31. Photo: Georgia Cartwright


#FNBVarsityCup: Wits advances, relegates Tuks

Defending champions FNB UP-Tuks will play in the Varsity Shield next season after their Round 6 defeat by FNB Wits.  

FNB Wits secured a historic win over the University of Pretoria (UP-Tuks) in the Varsity Cup on Monday, March 27, with a 77th minute try and conversion, for a score of 33-21.  

Wits had an impeccable start with flyhalf Setshaba Mokoena scoring a try in the sixth minute and shortly thereafter, Wian De Lange and Lindo Ncusane scoring two more tries with successful conversions. UP-Tuks fought back with wing Bayanda Ngubane scoring a try with a conversion, however, Wits maintained their 19-7 lead by the end of the first half.  

Tuks gained ground in the second half with eighth-man Divan Venter and centre Zander Reynders scoring point-of-origin tries in the final quarter, earning the Pretoria team bonus points for a total of 21. However, Wits managed to keep up the pressure with lock Hendrick Gouws scoring a try and prop Banele Mthenjane winning the game for the Witsies, relegating the defending champions to play in the Varsity Shield next season.   

Afterwards, Wits player, Dameon Venter, told Wits Vuvuzela that, “We prepared really well and understood that if we just stuck to our plan the result would [yield] itself.” He added that their strategy for the rest of the season involved, “taking each challenge week by week [as we] have set clear goals to go all the way and make history”. 

Supporters of the Braamfontein team came out in their numbers to cheer the home side. After the game, Jack Du Toit, a third-year civil engineering student said, “It is my first time watching a live game and it is an awesome experience to see good vibes and students having fun because [that] is what Varsity Cup is all about, bringing people together.”  

Tuks third-year psychology student Pepi Mushayabasa was disappointed at the result, saying, “[Tuks] had the potential to do better if there were more Tuks supporters [because] the vibe isn’t there for them.”   

Wits will play the FNB NWU Eagles in Round 7 at the Wits Stadium, on April 3, 2023.  

UP-Tuks player, Johannes Mare and Witsie, George Devenish reach for the ball during a lineout in their Round 6 game in the
Varsity Cup on March 27, 2023 at the Wits Rugby Stadium. Photo: Georgia Cartwright

FEATURED IMAGE: FNB Wits Rugby players face off in a scrum against UP-Tuks during a Varsity Cup Round 6 match on March 27, 2023 at the Wits Rugby Stadium. Photo: Georgia Cartwright