Wits Vuvuzela journalist attacked on campus

A Wits Vuvuzela reporter was attacked on campus earlier today as she attempted to take photographs at a march against xenophobia.

Anlerie de Wet was taking photographs at an anti-xenophobia march organised by Wits EFF outside the Matrix building on the east campus of Wits University earlier today when she was confronted by a group of Wits EFF supporters.

The Journalism Honours students says a female supporter grabbed her around her wrist “trying to grab the camera out of my hand camera”, as other supporters rushed towards her.  “A male student reached from behind, and smacked my head,” she added.

“They said I’m not allowed to take photos,” De Wet said.

When she questioned why not, she says she was told that she did not ask for permission to take pictures of the march and “because I am white”.

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Mbe Mbhele, secretary of Wits EFF confirmed that a confrontation with De Wet took place but said “there was no physical attack on her”. He said, “the journalist just took a picture of us without asking for permission”.

“When we asked her who she is, why she did not ask for permission, she said this is a public space and that is when the confrontation started,” Mbhele said.

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ON CAMERA: This is the last photograph Anlerie De Wet managed to take at the march outside the Matrix before EFF supporters tried take her camera from her. Photo: Anlerie De Wet.

Another Wits student, Ayanda Kunene, witnessed the Wits EFF supporters trying to take the camera from De Wet.

“She (Wits EFF supporter) grabbed the camera, wanting to take it away,” Kunene said.

Quintus Dirks, who also witnessed the incident, said, “I saw three EFF members, one grabbed the journalist’s camera … threatening to smack it”.

In a series of tweets this evening, the Wits EFF account tweeted: “We will not allow any media 2 (sic) take pictures of us without our permission … its against the law. No amount of reports you use will change that”.

“This is poor journalism and misrepresentation of the truth. You can do better really!”, another tweet read.

De Wet has reported the incident to Wits Campus Control.

A tale of two marches

Wits hosted two solidarity marches this week. The march on Monday was dedicated to Kenya and Tuesday was for Nigeria. Even though the idea was to march in solidarity, the turn out differed for each event.

A solidarity March For Kenya

Wits staff and students, led by vice-chancellor Adam Habib, marched in silence across the campus on Monday in solidarity with those affected by the massacre of 147 Kenyan students at Garissa University College earlier this month.

About 700 people, mostly dressed in black and with candles in their hands, marched from the FNB Building on West Campus to the steps of the Great Hall around lunchtime. Violet Molefe, the chairperson of Amnesty International at Wits, one of the organisers of the event, said the purpose of the march was not only to express solidarity with Kenya but also to introduce a new struggle for African youth.

Solidarity March for Kenya, with V.C Adam Habib .  Photo by: Reuven Blignault

Solidarity March for Kenya, with V.C Adam Habib .
Photo by: Reuven Blignault

“As we march, we stand in solidarity with the students from Kenya,” she said. “All of the time you see students being  angry, this is time to rise up as young leadership, not let the past generations to fix our problems,” Molefe said.

A solidarity March For Nigeria

In the same spirit of solidarity on Tuesday the School of Language, Literature and Media also marched. This was to  remember the Chibok girls from Nigeria who were abducted in April 2014. Led by the head of the Media Studies  department, Mehita Iqani, to the Great Hall, no more than 20 students attended. They had a moment of silence to  remember and remind themselves that it has already been a year.

According to Dr Ufuoma Akpojivi, who organised the march, the main reason the turnout was low was because  students think the Nigerian girls are forgotten. He also said the march was planned at the last minute.

“I met a student who said, please just forget about the bring back our girls,” he said. “I told her, let’s forget about  whether the girls are coming back or not, let’s create awareness,” said Akpojivi.

Akpojivi told Wits Vuvuzela the objective of the march was to create awareness and this was achieved.

“I am happy with the small turnout, because we managed to create awareness amongst our students,” said Akpojivi.

For Amnesty International organisers, despite having less than a week to plan their Garissa solidarity march, the turnout was bigger. They had a week to organise the event.

“We didn’t expect that much support,” Molefe said.