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.


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.

Wits theatre staff “cheated” out of overtime pay

EMPTY POCKETS:  Disgruntled staff at the Wits Theatre are clashing with new management, about over-time pay.  Photo: Lameez Omarjee

EMPTY POCKETS: Disgruntled staff at the Wits Theatre are clashing with new management, about over-time pay. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Wits theatre staff are complaining about changes in the way they are paid overtime saying “new management” limits their claims.

“Our contract says five days a week, but now we work up to seven days sometimes,” said *Sipho, who works at the theatre.

*Sipho said the work hours set in their contracts have been spread out across the week, and not five days.  Even though workers come in on the weekends, they do not get paid for overtime because they are still working off the week’s required work hours.

Sipho was told by management they did not qualify for “overtime” pay because the “minister” does not allow it.  Sipho also said that “all” the staff were unhappy with conditions.

“They [are] limiting worker hours,” said Olivia Moeti, whose mother works at the Wits Theatre.  Workers finish at 3pm on weekdays but come in on Saturday to work the other hours required by their contract, she said.

The theatre employs five cleaners, two of whom are directly employed by Wits.

According to theatre manager Gita Pather, university policy states that anyone who earns under the threshold of R198 000 each year is entitled to overtime and has to work at least 42.5 hours a week. They also cannot work more than 10 hours overtime, because it is against labour law.

“The rules of the industry have been negotiated and are in line with university policy and labour laws,” she said. When she took over as manager, overtime rules were not strictly enforced.

“They were getting paid overtime and taking toil,” she said. “Those who didn’t qualify for overtime were being given it anyway … People had gotten used to being paid huge amounts of overtime.”

But this year, she was given a budget and has to use that amount allocated to overtime across the whole year.

Problems started when new management took over this year, said Moeti.   “My mum has been working here for 31 years, this is the first time it’s happening.”  The new management insists that these new rules come from Wits University, she said.

“According to management, they say, Wits says it’s [work on Saturdays] is not overtime … they say Wits says they must get a day off instead of paying them,” she said.

However, Pather did not know about this and said the only thing that has changed is the number of hours they are allowed to work. Unless it is festival time, employees do not work on a Sunday and they work off a call sheet.

Wits Services, who manage the cleaning staff, are not aware of any overtime issues. According to director Nicki McGee: “We undertake when appointing service providers via the approved, transparent tender processes, and in consultation with numerous stakeholders at the university.

“The service providers adhere to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act … to ensure that such practices do not occur.”

Additionally, there aren’t different rates for night shift, from 4pm to 8.30pm.  No provision for transport is made for staff ending their shifts at night.   “It’s not fair to let a woman walk to Bree in the middle of the night,” said Moeti.

Pather said security provides transport to all Wits employees who work late at night. “They take them to the taxi rank.”

Moeti said management was trying to save on expenses throughout the year so that they could get “more money in December”.  She said: “They’re trying to save, they’re saving on other people’s expense.”

She also said more people had problems but they were too scared to come forward, out of fear of losing their jobs.

“There is an issue,” Pather said. “But I have a set amount of money.” She said the theatre is “completely compliant”. She said she is aware of the unhappiness, but has a budget and has to manage that.

“I am completely satisfied that we are working within the rules set by the university and labour laws.”

Man dies saving girlfriend

Charlie Gomez, the young man who died trying to prevent his girlfriend from falling from the fourth floor of Milpark Mews last Saturday, 26 April.      Photo: Provided

HERO: Charlie Gomez died trying to prevent his girlfriend from falling from the fourth floor of Milpark Mews last Saturday, April 26.       Photo: Provided

A twenty-one-year man old died a hero when he attempted to save his girlfriend after she fell from an Auckland Park apartment building on Saturday.

Charlie Gomez was carrying his girlfriend, Minikazi Jojo, 22, were getting ready for a night out on Saturday. Gomez was carrying Jojo in his arms on Saturday as they walked up an outdoor stairwell to their apartment. But as she was being carried up, Jojo lost her balance and fell over the railing of the fourth floor.

Gomez lunged over the railing in an attempt to save her but lost his balance and fell from the balcony.

Jojo’s cousin, who had gone ahead to collect a set of keys, came back to find the couple on the ground.

According to a close family friend, paramedics arrived on the scene and Jojo and Gomez were both rushed to the intensive care unit of Milpark Hospital.


Gomez arrived in hospital with his legs broken. He briefly woke up and attempted to get up  before his heart failed and Gomez died two hours after being admitted to hospital.

[pullquote]“He didn’t have to save me, but he died my hero”[/pullquote]

Jojo sustained injuries to her neck, broken bones near her spine and suffered small scratches to her face. According to the family friend, Jojo knows her boyfriend’s last act was an attempt to save her from falling.

“He didn’t have to save me, but he died my hero, ” Jojo was heard saying in the hospital.

Gomez and Jojo, both University of Johannesburg students, had been dating for about two months before the accident.

University of Johannesburg students, Minikazi Jojo, posing against the railing of the Milpark Mews apartment building.   Photo: Provided

University of Johannesburg students, Minikazi Jojo, posing against the railing of the Milpark Mews apartment building. Photo: Provided

Jojo is expected to be be discharged in two weeks’ time, but her family hopes she will be able to her attend Gomez’s funeral this coming Saturday.

This is not the first fatality to happen in the building. In 2011, two AFDA students fell from a balcony of the sixth floor. The estimated 15 metre drop killed one of the students instantly.

The safety of Milpark Mews’ balconies is a concern to some residents.

“Nothing is stable, there’s cracks all over the place, and the railings aren’t high enough. I’m just wondering how many people are still going to lose their lives here?” said Jojo’s friend.

Wits Vuvuzela approached Milpark Mews security guards for comment but they professed ignorance about Jojo and Gomez’s accident. The caretaker of Milpark Mews, known only as “Ozzy”, could not be reached at his flat in the building nor on any of the provided phone numbers.

VIDEO: Marikana First Anniversary

AUGUST 16 marks the first anniversary of the fateful killing of Lonmin platinum mine workers in North West province. The event has been dubbed the “Marikana massacre” because police opened fire at over 30 protesting mine workers. A year later questions still need to be answered by the Marikana commission of inquiry regarding the police’s conduct and events leading to the disputes. Wits Vuvuzela took to the streets to ask Witsies whether they remember the event, its significance and how the day should be commemorated.

Camera operator

Mfuneko Toyana


Ray Mahlaka


Ray Mahlaka and Nomatter Ndebele

The gay-friendly Catholic church

IN A rare display of commitment to gay people, a Catholic church in Braamfontein has opened its doors to a homosexual support group.

The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) support group has been meeting fortnightly at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church near Wits to talk about their concerns and struggles and to give each other emotional support from a Christian perspective.

Outside Holy Trinity Church. Photo:Leigh-ann Carey

Outside Holy Trinity Church. Photo:Leigh-ann Carey

“The LGBTI group was formed five years ago when some parishioners came to tell me that do I know that there were gay people coming here and they feel marginalised and could we do something for them,” said Father Russell Pollitt, head parish priest at the church.

Group co-ordinator Dumisani Dube said they are not a “charity organisation” and the main aim of the group was to provide emotional support.

According to Pollitt, the Catholic Church is “quite traditional” in its views of homosexuality. However, he said there is a diversity of views within the church.

The Catholic Church has no issues with homosexual orientation, but it does not accept the “practice or lifestyle of homosexuality, i.e. any physical activity is taboo and not acceptable,” said Pollitt.

He adds: “I think the problem with religion is that we don’t think things through. We tend to think things in black and white…whereas human life is really grey.”

Pollitt also said there are discrepancies between what religion upholds and experiences of people.

Finding refuge in the church

Zacharia Kudumela, a member of the support group, recently discovered Holy Trinity after visiting “every church you could think of”.

“I found out about the church weeks ago and I liked it as they accept the LGBTI community. I felt that I belonged at the church. Most churches do not accept the LGBTI community and look down upon us and accuse us of sexual immorality.”

Kudumela said other churches he has visited avoided the topic of homosexuality.

“I’ve had good and bad experiences. At Holy Trinity, I have found a home. I feel like I can now hear the gospel of God, without any judgement.”

Resistance to the church

Pollitt said the road to embracing the LGBTI group at the church was met with anxiety. There was conflict with some church authorities and in some instances he received letters from people who disapproved or denounced the church’s stance on homosexuality.

“People were initially afraid…one or two people decided to go somewhere else because they felt I was trying to make this into a gay church… This place looks after many marginalised people…people left out from churches, because there is some stigma attached to them,” Pollitt said.

Dube said that people came to terms with the existence of the group and supported their cause as the “ministry is getting stronger by the day”.

Perception shift towards homosexuality

Pollitt said there has been a shift in perceptions on homosexuality as people would be uncomfortable if the words “gay and lesbian” were mentioned at his church years ago.  But attitudes were changing and homosexuality “is not a big deal” anymore.

“Some people still feel uncomfortable. There was a guy who walked out of the church recently when he saw pamphlets at the door. He said it’s disgusting [that this] was happening in the church,” he said.

Pollitt said he would be happy to share the LGBTI programme for other congregations to also welcome homosexual people. However, he said no other Catholic church has approached him yet.

He does not believe the Catholic Church would change its opinion on homosexuality, as the church’s definition of marriage is that it is between a man and woman and “any sexual activity should be in the context of marriage”.