Posted in Semester 2: Text, Semester2

Braamies loot Puma Store

By Nobathembu Zantsi and Wendy Mothata

A group of people who joined the #feesmustfall protest that spilled into Braamfontein yesterday broke into Puma Store and stole some items.

The group stole bags, shoes, caps and other clothing items after they used rocks to break through a glass door.

Although police on the scene claimed they were students, several other eyewitnesses said they were homeless people and carguards.

This came after a group of students and #FeesMustFall leader Vuyani Pambo accompanied by members of the mediating committee went into Braamfontein to fetch some students who were struggling to return to Solomon House because of police action after the afternoon’s protest.

Earlier, there were violent engagements between the protesters and the police as police were firing rubber bullets and throwing teargas across Braamfontein streets in the evening.

Sinothando Mazibuko, second-year BA student at the University of Johannesburg told WitsVuvuzela that she was in her residence, a private facility called Times Square, when the police began firing teargas. “I was inside my room we were not even protesting but our building was fumed with teargas,” said Mazibuko.

First-year Social Work Wits student, Kedigetse Hlalethoa who was at the scene said the people who broke into the store were not students. “Some of them were homeless people and car guards,” she said.

After the first rock was thrown through the glass, the group “celebrated, then they threw more rocks,” said Hlalethoa.

Mazibuko, who was also at the scene at the time, said the people who broke into PUMA and stole were people she has seen living on the streets. “There’s a guy I usually see on the street who was shouting ‘Viva Free Education’ and he is not a student,” she said.

Puma Store manager, Khaya Kubeka who arrived at the scene later said he could not estimate how many items were stolen but added that they will view the footage after the head office has released it.

“I’m very shocked and frustrated at the moment but I hope the culprits will be found and brought to book soon,” said Kubeka.

Incoming Wits-SRC president, Kefentse Mkhari said the delegation that was sent to fetch students in Braamfontein had already come back with students to Solomon House at the time of the incident. “The people who stole are opportunists pushing their own criminal agenda,” said Mkhari.

“The police and Wits management are the ones who pushed the protest outside Wits premises and therefore allowed the protest to be hijacked by criminals,” said Mkhari.

However, police from the riot van who later dispersed the crowd said they believed it was students who broke in but they told WitsVuvuzela that they were not supposed to speak to the media.

 

 

Posted in Semester 2: Text

Slice of life: Speaking my language is normal

“Your Xhosa is too deep. Where are you from?”

I’ve always been asked that question throughout my upbringing. It’s not surprising though that in a country with eleven official languages, black people are made to believe their languages are beneath languages from the West.

Writing and speaking “good English” is beneficial because it means you can get a good job, you can communicate even with the broader international community. That’s good and I do not dispute that but my problem is when a black child is made to believe that being educated means that you should only master the white man’s language. It is becoming a normal thing for a black child to say they are not fluent in their mother tongue. I’ve once heard a black lady before say “who is still interested in reading something in their language nowadays, most black university students can’t really read in their languages.”

I was disturbed partly because what she said was true but also because the statement was sort of labelling the situation as normal. I am aware of the irony of writing in English. This is obviously a clear demonstration of the powers that we have given the language in this country and for the obvious reason that not everyone will understand what I’ve written.

I can never forget the day I interviewed a young boy whose father is a very good Nguni news anchor, it was to my surprise when I greeted the boy in his mother tongue and he looked at me with a confused face, his father informed me with a smile that “he doesn’t speak the language” I was shocked. I don’t think I would have been that surprised if the parent were someone else as it is becoming a norm now for parents not to teach their kids their indigenous languages.

One professor said to me “introducing all these languages in university will be costly. At least with English everyone is sort of included”. He really did not see or understand why it’s important for other languages to gain recognition I guess it’s because we’ve also allowed and been made to believe our languages aren’t that important to us.

One person in the broadcasting field once told me that “It’s too costly to have content on TV in all eleven languages. At least if we accommodate three”.  “At least” for who?  That is the very reason that leads people not to see the need to preserve and promote their languages and to see them as inferior. The notion that it is not important, that it’s normal and acceptable for a black child not to be able to read and write in their mother-tongue. I understand the reason  AfriForum is up in arms to defend Afrikaans as they understand the importance of preserving one’s language and the advantage it therefore brings to have a language that is not only official on paper but is recognised in all spheres.

I remember during the broadcast of Nelson Mandela’s funeral, Twitter was a buzz with people complaining when Chief Ngangomhlaba Matanzima, speaking on behalf of the Mandela family, delivered his speech in IsiXhosa, there were even media articles about international guests being lost during his speech. Why would they not expect to hear a language that is foreign to them at a funeral of a black South African? Surely that is the normal thing to expect?

A friend of mine once laughed when she saw that I had a Xhosa bible, saying she didn’t expect a university student to be reading it as it was easier to read the English version. Even churches where there are only black people, the sermon would be conducted in English, and congregants would also be carrying an English bible.

We need to do away with normalising what is not normal. I was taught that if you lose a language, you lose a culture and you lose a history. If we allow that to happen, our cultural diversity will be depleted.

When I express myself in my indigenous tongue, I am not being “too traditional or backward” I’m behaving normally.

Originally published on WitsVuvuzela

 

 

Posted in Semester 2: Text

Day 4: FeesMustFall 2016 regains momentum

After a day of violence, rubber bullets, shock grenades and thrown stones, the Wits #Fees2017 protest on Thursday received what felt like new momentun after a meeting in Solomon House which sought to unite students from different politcal organisations, endorse leaders and  was opened by former #FeesMustFall leader Mcebo Dlamini.

Dlamini led a march of students from Education Campus to Solomon House in the afternoon. The protesters were allowed to march peacefully, escorted by Campus Control, with the police watching from a distance.

Dlamini was greeted at Solomon House, the place where last year he held centre stage as a student leader, with cheers from the students assembled.

But Dlamini quickly made clear that he was present only to support new leaders. Pointing at SRC president and Progressive Youth Alliance member Kefenste Mkhari,Wits Economic Freedom Fighters leader Koketso Poho as well as student activist Catherine Busisiwe Seabe, Dlamini said “These are the leaders that will deliver free education for us.”

Continuing, Dlamini declared that students “have the numbers” and if the government did not provide free education they would vote it out of power.

“If the ruling party does not provide free education, we are going to vote it out and put leadership that will prioritise education,” Dlamini said.

Dlamini was heckled by some protesters, including a group of female students near the front carrying sjamboks but he responded, “If you don’t like me it’s okay I don’t care I just want to work with you.”

Dlamini then handed the microphone off to Mkhari who emphasised that the student protest was peaceful and should remain so while condemning police violence. He said the movement was drawing a line against violence.

“Today we have separated the violent protesters from the non-violent protesters,” Mkhari said.

Worker’s representative Thandiswa Yaphi also spoke at Solomon House. She spoke about the unfair treatment of workers highlighting that Wits students should not allow the Matrix to operate until workers from Sizzlers, a cafe in the Matrix, who were dismissed are re-instated. She highlighted that insourcing was the solution for retail workers at Wits.

“There are no workers who are better than others, when I go to work I say I’m going to Wits not Sizzlers,” she said.

Seabe and the other student leaders then assigned some positions and broke the students into task teams that would deal with media, logistics and strategy. Dlamini also announced that a number of academics including struggle icon Ahmad Kathrada would be supporting the movement. The students are set to convene at Solomon House this evening to discuss a way forward for the protest.

Originally published on WitsVuvuzela

Posted in Semester 2: Text

Students meeting in Solomon House to discuss way forward

Wits students have occupied and are holding a meeting in Solomon House–previously known as Senate House–having broken down a door to gain access after they were denied entry by security guards and police officers.

The students are expected to hold a meeting to discuss the way forward. Earlier, incoming Student Representative Council (SRC) president Kefentse Mkhari annouced that Wits would be shut down because students want “free education now”. This after Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande’s announcement that fees should increase by a maximum of 8% for students whose families make more than R600,000 a year.

The meeting is set to outline the merits of further protest.  Outgoing SRC deputy president Motheo Broddie said they would not prevent people from speaking as all students were allowed to raise their voice at the meeting.

In the afternoon following Nzimande’s announcement, some students wearing Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) t-shirts prevented student activist and Economic Freedom Fighters member Simamkele Dlakavu from speaking. Dlakavu told Wits Vuvuzela that she wanted to raise a point of clarity regarding what they are going to be striking for. She said the end goal should be made clear because last year during FeesMustFall protests students were striking for free education and insourcing of workers but said the PYA ended the strike although workers had also not been insourced and only a zero-percent increase announced. “ I will only be shutting down for free education, de-colonised education and the dignity of black workers,” said Dlakavu.

Broddie denied that anyone was intentionally prevented from speaking but said the earlier meeting was “chaotic” and proper procedure was not followed.

Originally published on WitsVuvuzela

Posted in Semester 2: Text

Fighters stall leadership election

Wits EFF to elect its leadership structure next week

The Wits Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) was unable to elect its leadership structure this week after a meeting was disrupted owing to disputes over the election process.

The meeting to elect new members to the various portfolios was ended abruptly on Tuesday, September 13, due to disagreements between the presiding officer, Rendani Nematswerani and some EFF members. The members were concerned about the fact that Nematswerani, also the deputy secretary general of the national EFF student command, was solely responsible for the counting of votes and argued that he should have been assisted.

Wits EFF convenor Koketso Poho said members felt that the presiding officer was “bullying” the session. “We can’t allow views of loyal members to be suppressed however small they may be in number,” said Poho.

Nematswerani told Wits Vuvuzela that there was a misunderstanding between the rules of the house and the guidelines of the student command. “We must allow members to learn the constitution and familiarise themselves with them and we are here to assist,” said Nematswerani. He went on to say that they (Wits EFF and himself) were all under the umbrella of the EFF and were working towards the same goal, “misunderstandings may occur but it is their duty to correct and build the EFF”.

Poho says they have requested the secretary general Phiwaba Madokwe to be present at next week’s elective meeting and also to be assisted by a deployee to avoid disputes.  Poho added that there was no infighting within the student movement but members felt leadership was being imposed on them and therefore had to defend the legitimacy of their branch.

Originally published on WitsVuvuzela

Posted in Semester 2: Text

Student leaders to hold mass meetings for free education

Students plan meetings for free education

STUDENT leaders at Wits and other universities around the country are set to conduct mass meetings about free education and zero percent fee increases.

The Wits SRC released a statement this week where it said it would engage students through consultations and would also be holding mass meetings to interrogate issues around fees and free education and receive a mandate on a way forward.

The Wits SRC said that they found it unacceptable that the Fees Commission was investigating the mere feasibility of free education instead of investigating how to realise free and quality education.

Wits SA Students Congress (Sasco) chairperson Mpendulo Mfeka said they have a goal to attain free education however they were waiting for Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande to come back to them and give a full report.

“We want Blade to announce 0% until a realisation of free education and a commitment to tell us when we’ll start having free education,” said Mfeka. He added that student organisations have to give the minister space to figure out where the funding for higher education will come from.

Wits Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) acting chair, Koketso Poho, said they were not going to protest with any organisation which pushes the agenda of 0% fee increment.

“We don’t want to end up in a cycle again where the government announces a fee increment and after we protest they give us 0% again, Blade must announce free education now,” said Poho.

He said the Wits EFF did not recognise SAUS (Student Union of Students) which is the body which represented students at the Fees Commission.

“SAUS doesn’t have a constituency, they mushroom from nowhere, we don’t recognise them,” said Poho. He added that Wits EFF will be attending all mass meetings including one at Wits scheduled this week.

“We are going to ensure that the discourse about fee increment is supressed so that when we go to the streets we have one mandate which is free education,” said Poho.

Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania (Pasma) spokesperson at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), Vusi Mahlangu, said they’ve already held a mass meeting at TUT main campus on August 16 with other student organisations, including the EFF and Sasco, aimed at mobilising students for the upcoming protest.

“The narrative about the entire protest has been hijacked into a fee increment protest, our objective is free education,” said Mahlangu.

Wits Pasma leader, Phethani Madzivhamdila, said they’ve learnt a lesson from last year’s #FeesMustFall protest and they need to fight for free education now and not for 0% fee increases.

Mahlangu said they have not attached a date for the protest as they were still waiting for Nzimande to make an official announcement about university fees.

Originally published on WitsVuvuzela

 

 

 

Posted in Semester 2: Text

First-years at risk after tutorial cuts

Budget cuts lead to more tutorials being cancelled

Res-life tutorials, which are used to help first-years avoid failing university, are set to be cancelled at the end of this week due to budget cuts.

All Res Council (ARC) chairperson Xhanti Mshunqane said they were informed via email during the June break of the plans to cancel tutorials at all residences.

Mshunqane said they were told that a series of budget cuts has been put in place because of a tough financial year.

“They said they’ve had to cut budgets due to fees not increasing this year and because of the insourcing issue,” said Mshunqane.

Last year, following #FeesMustFall protests, the government and universities, including Wits, agreed not to increase fees. Wits also agreed to insource all workers at the university.

Mshunqane said the ARC does not believe it is fair on first year students to have to bear the consequences of budget cuts.

“The gap from high school to university is huge and that is the reason tutorials for all first year students living in res were initiated, cancelling them will increase the chances of first year students failing” he said.

Last semester, Wits Vuvuzela reported that tutorials for second-year maths students on campus were cancelled. After they were cancelled some pass rates for math courses were as low as 3%. Maths students then formed a volunteer maths tutoring programme to assist the students.

Mshunqane said the ARC had been trying to arrange a meeting with the director of campus housing and residence life Robert Sharman to discuss the matter further.

Wits Vuvuzela attempted to contact Sharman during the week but had not yet received a response as of the time of print.

Angel Thabela, a first-year physiotherapy student, said she found the tutorials to be very helpful and she is worried that they are being cancelled. “We understood the work better during tutorials than in the lecture room,” said Thabela.

Valencia Nkosi, a tutor at res-life, said the tutorials enabled them to give first-year students individual attention. Now that they are going to be cancelled first years won’t get that much assistance with their courses.

Mshunqane said they’ve proposed that all the major first-year residences use the budget allocated for the student development office as a temporary solution to the problem but because the Office of Res Life has not got back to them, they haven’t been able to put that alternative in place.

“We’ve been trying to get hold of Mr Sharman because the only way we can discuss this is through having a meeting with him but he hasn’t replied to us regarding our meeting,” said Mshunqane.

Thandoluhle Khumalo, ARC vice chairperson and house comm at Sunnyside, said they have called for volunteer tutors meanwhile to assist first-year students.

Originally published on WitsVuvuzela

 

 

Posted in Semester 2: Text

Wits Journalism Alumni finalists in CNN Awards

Two Wits Journalism graduates are among the finalists in the prestigious CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards.

The announcement was made this week that 38 journalists from 14 countries had been shortlisted from a record 1 637 entries from 38 countries, including French and Portuguese-speaking Africa.Jay Caboz, a photo journalist at Forbes Africa magazine says when he was informed about the news he thought it was a prank but soon realised that he was actually selected as a finalist. He was told to keep the news to himself for about a month but he says he struggled to keep the secret, he says, laughing.

However, Caboz doesn’t know which of the features he submitted was nominated. These include a ‘Fees Must Fall’ photo essay.

Diana Neille, managing director at Chronicle Production Company, knows exactly what got her shortlisted. It is the feature, ‘Casualties of Cola’, which she co-authored with Richard Poplak, Shaun Swingler and Sumeya Gas, and which was placed third in the Taco Kuiper Award for Investigative Journalism earlier this year.

Caboz, who graduated with journalism honours in 2012, says although he loves journalism as a whole, he is passionate about photography. “Every story has a way of being told and we should tell it in its best way,” he says. The photo journalist highlights that one of the things he learnt while doing his journalism honours degree at Wits is that one needs to be able to write, shoot and design in order to be a good storyteller.

Caboz won the Standard Bank Sikuvile Young Journalist Award in 2015.

Neille, a graduate of the class of 2009, says it means a lot to her that her work is being recognised around the continent. “This is a great opportunity to showcase the work that we do on a bigger platform,” says Neille. She adds that on the feature, they focused on presentation of the story in addition to telling the story.

Both journalists say winning the award would be a great deal for them as their work will get recognition across the continent.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Johannesburg on October 15.

Originally published on WitsVuvuzela

 

Posted in Semester 2: Text

Afrikaans wins in Bloemfontein

AFRIKAANS will remain one of the languages of instruction at the University of the Free State (UFS).

LEANNE CUMMING and NOBATHEMBU ZANTSI

AFRIKAANS will remain one of the languages of instruction at the University of the Free State (UFS). This comes after the Bloemfontein High Court ruled in favour of AfriForm and Solidarity to stop the university’s council from making English the primary medium of instruction. The university had announced in March that the language policy at all its three campuses would change effective from 2017.

According to a report by News24, Afriforum had told the court that the removal of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction was “a violation of the constitution”. Greta Engelbrech, the advocate who represented AfriForum, argued that the removal of Afrikaans would be a constitutional issue as the court needed to consider law, teaching and theology students, who might want to offer their services in Afrikaans.
However, the university’s advocate, Jeremy Gauntlett SC, argued that Afrikaans had become “a surrogate for colour segregation in class”. Alana Bailey, Afriforum executive, told Wits Vuvuzela that AfriForum was relieved by the judgment.
“This is not only a victory for Afrikaans speakers but also other South African indigenous languages. We are very much in favour of mother tongue education, because we feel that if English is stronger, there will be less opportunities for other languages,” she said.
The University of the Free State could not be reached for comment at the time of going to print.

Originally published on WitsVuvuzela

 

 

Posted in Semester 2: Text

Wits institute pilots mining safety project

The Wits Mining Institute (WMI) is set to launch a new digital project before the end of the year.

The Wits Mining Institute (WMI) is set to launch a two-part project that aims to improve safety in mines.

The first, a mock mine with digital tools, is currently in use but will be officially launched at the end of the year.

The mock mine is situated in the basement of the Chamber of Mines building on the Wits University main campus and features a tunnel and digital systems. It has been installed with sensors that measure the quality of the air in order to detect dangerous gases and to indicate if a person is approaching a dangerous area. It is equipped with smart lamps that communicate messages to miners.

“If mines install the technologies we have in the mock mine, we will never again have Lily mine we will never again have a mine worker who goes to work in the morning and doesn’t come back,” said Professor Frederick Cawood, head of the Wits Mining Institute, referring to the mining disaster earlier this year in which 3 miners were trapped underground after a mine caved in.

Ten fourth-year mining engineering students were selected to take part in the project and have already worked in the mock mine.  Atang Maqelepo, 4th-year mining, said the project had helped him understand the role that can be played by digital technologies in improving safety in the mining industry while maximising production. The students are set to graduate at the end of this year with a certificate in digital mining competency, which is currently exclusive to Wits, according to Cawood.

Through reducing the risks associated with mining, the institute aims to attract more students to the mining discipline. Cawood said they aim to take students from other engineering disciplines to be part of the project next year.

Originally published on WitsVuvuzela