Men’s Res expected to slaughter a cow for their 95th Birthday this weekend

Wits University’s oldest residence, Men’s Hall of Residence, will be slaughtering a cow to celebrate their 95th birthday on September 29.

In an interview with Wits Vuvuzela, Men’s Res House committee chairman ,Sizwe Bhengu said, “I cannot deny nor confirm that we will be slaughtering a cow but there will be a braai”, he said laughing. At the time of going to press, Bhengu stated that they were waiting for disaster management to approve their request to slaughter a cow on campus.

Some of the planned events for the celebration include a formal dinner that will be held on Friday at the main dining hall. On Saturday, September 30, there will be various sports played at the Diggz field between alumni, seniors and freshmen which will be followed by a braai, back at the residence.

The residence has housed many celebrated figures of society during their time as students. The list includes Adv Dali Mpofu, former Wits SRC president and Thusanani Foundation founder Morris Masutha, EFF National spokesperson, Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi as well as former chair of ABSA and CEO of Murray and Roberts, David Brink to name a few.

Former residence hall coordinator and acting cluster manager, Bongani Gumede said the birthday celebration marks the years the residence has existed and the culture and traditions that were established.

Gumede, who used to stay at the residence during his time as a student added that, “Things are not as they seem, there is always something bigger than what meets the eye. Some of the challenges are that some of the traditions need to change as they do not reflect the ethos of the University and the residence”.

Over the years Men’s Res traditions have changed, but the residence has remained a vibrant community of students, past and present. It is known for its spirited, prank-playing, hard playing games and most often involved in activities condoned by the University.

Bhengu added that, “The brotherhood, unity and social responsibility and shared culture among the residents is what makes it great. Men’s Res has not always had the greatest reputation when it comes to issues of patriarchy but we have decided to take a progressive stance with initiatives such as #NotInMyName.”  During this initiative the raiders, as they’re known on campus, started walking  female students who stay off campus to their residences during the heightened time of abductions and crime in Braamfontein.

Some of the traditions and crests date back to the 1950s which include being introduced to Phineas [see pictures], a ceremony carried out with great solemnity in a partially darkened room. Other traditions include early morning activities where freshmen trot around campus wearing white lab coats and little else, from time to time serenading the Dean and Assistant Deans.

“It has become tradition to sing at the graduations of fellow raiders as well as female residences during O-Week and also throughout the year”, Bhengu added.

Director of the Wits, Development and Fundraising Office (DFO) and former raider Peter Bezuidenhoudt said, “This is the first of a number of events that will be organized in the run up to 2022, when Mens Res, together with the Wits University, will celebrate their centenary”.

Bezuidenhoudt said that they have received responses from alumni who span the last 60 years of the residence history.  “Including five gentlemen from the late 1950s, all of whom are going to speak, most notably David Brink the who graduated in 1960, as well as alumni including, 2002 chairman of Men’s Res Elvis Ukpaka, Chief Economist of Investment Solutions Lesiba Mothata”.

The celebrations this weekend are not open to non-raiders. Bhengu  said, “Because of budget constraints we were unable to make the event open to the public. The sponsorship from res life wasn’t sufficient”.

Long sitting security guard of nine years and member of the raider’s community Bab’ Dlamini said Men’s Res is a home away from home. “Kukhona iUnity kuma raider, futhi siyabafundisa imbeko(translation). When they have done wrong I sit them down and we talk, I am one person they listen to”.

Dlamini says he is a father figure for the raiders, “They even gave me a name, uncle raider”. For Dlamini the birthday celebration is a long overdue celebration of the brotherhood renowned in the residence.

Originally published on Wits Vuvuzela

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Wits Sports Council commemorates Dr David Webster with a sports derby

The Wits Sports Council (WSC) has partnered up with the All Residence Council (ARC) to host a sports derby called Wits Sports challenges All Residence Council on Friday, September 22 at Diggz field on West Campus.

Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela, WSC outgoing chairperson and organiser of the derby, third-year medical student Rubina Valodia said, “The David Webster sports tournament is a long-standing tradition within the WSC. The tournament commemorates the life of Dr David Webster, who was an academic and anti-apartheid activist.”

Valodia added that the aims of the tournament are to honour the work of Webster in the struggle against apartheid and to pass on his love of sports to students. “He was a dedicated soccer fan,” she said.

The tournament last took place in 2012 with just the participation of Wits Sports. This year the outgoing sports council decided to revisit the tradition. “We wanted to revive the tournament so as to foster a sense of community and camaraderie amongst sporting students and to include the ARC,” Valodia said.

The theme is “WSC vs ARC” – there will be some friendly game competition between the two groups of students. The day will include music, snacks and drinks. Medics will be on hand for any injuries.

In an interview with Wits Vuvuzela, ARC sports and cultural officer, Emmanuel Mareme said, “Only teams in the residence are expected to participate and the council decided to partake in this initiative to encourage residence students to have fun and engage with one another through participation in the different sports.”

Mareme said the ARC is expected to organise awards for the winning teams.

Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela, third year BEd student and member of Rennie House Residence, Palesa Mofokeng, said the sports day was a good idea from the two councils. “We shouldn’t always look to parties when having fun as students. So participation in sports will contribute to our camaraderie and the health benefit is a plus.”

Some of the teams that will take part include basketball, futsal, netball and chess. With the netball and futsal teams consisting of five to eight players, basketball teams three to five players and chess being played by individuals.

Valodia said no teams were expected to train for the tournament. “It is meant as a fun warm-down from the busy 2017 sporting calendar. Most students will have been training hard this year for their University Sports South Africa (USSA) tournaments or the ARC sports day. This tournament doesn’t require any extra training and students of all fitness levels are welcome to participate.”

Teams can sign up via the following link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSckCHY7GDzX4pmDF6-wOQewadGwryRlEWIjpfdQ_TgagA_CoQ/viewform?c=0&w=1 or on the Wits Sports Council Facebook page. Entry is open to all students who live in residence or are members of a Wits sports club.

 

Originally published on Wits Vuvuzela

Wits increases printing prices for students

The cost of printing has increased by two cents a sheet from September 1. A black and white A4 sheet has increased from 39 cents to 41 cents, a 5.1% rise.
The A4 colour has increased by 4 cents from R2,88 to R2,92, a 1.38% rise. The average eight-page assignment will now cost R3,28 instead of R3,12.


Wits third-year BA law student, Nhlanhla Mchunu Thonte (21), said he was not aware of the increase and that he hardly uses the university’s facilities, “Mostly because it requires one to spend time in the library logging on to the computer, which takes forever. The system is unreliable and inefficient.”
Thonte says, “The university completely negates the fact that there are students that live without a cent. It’s even hard for them to print assignments. They rely on those that are privileged enough to print their work.”

BA general third-year student, Zipho Jukuju (21), said, “I don’t use labs because they are always full of students who misuse them for catching up on soapies and series. Moreover, the computers there are very slow. The use of printing facilities should be compensated for in the amount we pay in our modules.”  She added that she hopes the increase is not related to the speculations about the university fee increments.

Owner of the Wits Jetline franchise, Mario Michael, told Wits Vuvuzela that he doesn’t think the decision to increase printing charges will affect students who come to his store. Jetline charges 60 cents for a single black and white page and R5 for a colour page.
Michael added that there are about 20% of students who use Jetline for printing. “Unless the increase is very high compared to our pricing, students usually come to us as an alternative place, more so when they are pressed for time.

“Students probably come to our stores for the value adds, where they can email and just collect without having to wait,” he said.
Wits Vuvuzela reached out to the ICT department for a comment but they were unavailable.

 

Originally published on Wits Vuvuzela

Wits Junction women begin a #NAMEANDSHAME campaign against sexual harassment

Wits Junction house-committee along with the women at the residence are starting a campaign encouraging female residents to #NAMEANDSHAME their perpetrators of sexual harassment.

Alicia Ashburner, Gender, grievance and transformation officer at the Wits Junction said that the campaign was strictly for the women in the residence. “We as the women at Junction decided to provide a platform for women to share their experiences of sexual harassment. And a platform to speak about issues of safety and to discuss protocol around how to handle incident of sexual harassment”. She added that the platform would not be made public. “No photos or videos will be taken. The naming and shaming would also remain within the space.”

Ashburner indicated that many incidents are occurring at the Wits Junction but the residence management has not been responding with enough urgency to them. In some instances they have been kept on the low. “One student was suspended last block after incidents of sexual harassment had surfaced,” she said.

Ashburner hopes that the campaign will contribute towards making women feel safe again. “Doing your laundry at night should not leave you anxious because you fear that some guy will come and harass you… Johannesburg is not safe but Junction shouldn’t fall under the same category,” she says.

A recent case early this month had made news on social media involving a fifth year medical student who had made allegations of sexual harassment about her partner, student leader Kamvelihle Goba. Hillbrow spokesperson Mduduzi Zondo said a case of assault was laid against Goba but he was not yet arrested as “they don’t know his whereabouts”.

Crystal Dicks from the Gender and Equity Office (GEO) indicated that the case was reported to the office. “The GEO process is complainant led and we work with what the complainant wants. It is their process and the GEO respects this. For obvious reasons cases reported are confidential. In terms of addressing allegations related to gender based harm at the Junction and other residences, the GEO has a comprehensive programme that has been shared with the student community and which is up for discussion on the 5 August with residence student leadership”.

Thokozani Manyange, Wits Parktown cluster manager and Wits Junction building manager said he was unavailable for a comment and directed us to the Head of Wits Residence Rob Sharman. Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela, Sharman said “We were told of a rumour of sexual harassment yesterday. No details of the victims were given. We take action when instances of sexual harassment come to our attention by referring them to the GEO.”

Sharman later confirmed that an incident had been reported to the GEO office. “Details are not normally publicised at this stage and my office does not have specific details on the matter. We will never the less continue to urge all victims of sexual harassment to report such incidents to GEO and depending upon the advice of the GEO residence management will take appropriate action”.

Sharman hopes the #NAMEANDSHAME campaign will encourage students to come forward to the GEO office. “It is important that victims come forward and report all incidents of gender based harm,” he added

Wits Junction students fundraise for worker whose shack burnt

Wits Junction community collects thousands of rand for cleaner whose shack burnt

The student community at the Wits Junction Residence has collected over R5 000 for a cleaner whose home in Germiston burnt after a fire broke out nearby.

Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela, Nomsa Sodlaldla (53) said the fire started in the early hours of Saturday morning.

“A child from a neighbouring shack left a candle on at her home because our shacks are closely put the fire spread onto the other homes. I was away for the weekend when this happened and came back to find my shack was burnt down beyond recognition and there was nothing left of it,” she said.

Wits Junction House Committee chairperson, Mookameli Moeketsi (MK) told Wits Vuvuzela that he learnt of the incident from one of the residents who lived in the block cleaned by Sodladla.

“We tried approaching the Junction management but you can imagine that we were unsuccessful due to the nature of our relationship with them and theirs with the workers. So we wrote a post on social media and followed with an email appealing to the residents who came to donate in numbers,” he said.

Moeketsi said, “We have managed to collect over R5400 in cash donations as well as over 100 tinned items which we went to deliver to Mam’ Nomsa in Germiston a day after we learnt of the incident.”

Head of Residence Life, Robert Sharman described the initiative taken by the members of the Junction community as “highly commendable”. He said, “Their success to date is amazing. Unfortunately I do not have any particulars of the matter, as the cleaning staff of the university falls under the Services Department, not Campus Housing & Residence Life. I also do not know what discussions there may have been between the Services Department and the staff member.”

The university Vice Chancellor Adam Habib as well as the transformation office have made a commitment to assist Sodladla. “Yesterday the Vice chancellor called us and asked how far we were with the donations and suggested that we get the greater wits community involved. The transformation office also called to query how far we are and where we needed help,” Moeketsi said.

Sodlala says the workers’ union as well as the Junction workers have not yet contacted her or made any indication to assist as yet. “I was overwhelmed by the contributions from the students. I was not expecting it and broke into tears. I am very grateful for all the donations.”

Sodladla, originally from Mdantsane in the Eastern Cape where her two children stay, is currently living in her cousin’s shack and hopes to restore her home soon.

“I have gone back to work after a three day leave. I still need zinc to build my shack. In the meantime I am staying with my cousin.”

Sodlala and the Junction residents have appealed to the public to assist in donating blankets, clothes and food items as well as material to rebuild her shack.

For any immediate donations please contact Nomsa Sodladla on (078 376 4327/079 924 6848) or the Junction residents on 076 965 4413 or email: mookamelim@gmail.com

 

Originally published on Wits Vuvuzela

Hundreds apply for 45 cleaning jobs

Over 400 people turned up at the Braamfontein offices of the Gauteng department of public works on Monday October 9, to apply for 45 cleaning posts.

The department had advertised the vacancies at Johannesburg’s courts a week earlier.

“Public works is a custodian to all government buildings,” said Coreen Nyapisi from the provincial human resources department. “So 45 posts became available at 10 courts around Johannesburg. The vacancies were available as a result of untimely deaths and resignations from previous workers.

“There is no strict period or time where posts are available. It happens as and when the need arises,” said Nyapisi.

On public perceptions that the government does not employ people who apply through formal processes such as responding to adverts, Nyapisi, who said she had been working in HR “for years”, said that was a false impression.

“We do open posts and take on the formal employment process, no backdoors are used. I work and am part of the process, so I can speak from experience within my sector. We published and made notices which we put in all courts and, through word of mouth, made known the availability of the posts. The applicants are given a choice to apply to a specific court or to all 10 courts,” said Nyapisi

The applicants who were in the queue were hopeful about their prospects.

Candice Buso (27) who is from Orlando West in Soweto, said she heard of the vacancies from her neighbour. “I have been unemployed for a year and have two sons who are dependent on me.” She said that although she had never heard of anyone who had applied getting a post, she was hopeful that she may get a job.

Buso, who has a matric qualification, described looking for employment as a “daunting and difficult process. I have no choice but to keep trying, and I will take whatever it is that they give me, just to support my children”.

Nyapisi said the issue of unemployment, more so of young people in the country, was a big issue. “We get applications from the most qualified people with degrees to people who couldn’t finish their matric. We decided to be lenient with working experience and chose not to have it as criteria for employment in an effort to cater for all,” she said.

Tebogo Kholele (33), a single mother of three, told Wits Vuvuzela that she trusted the process and hoped for a positive outcome. “I decided to apply because I have a month left at my current employer where I work as a cleaner.”

Vincent Mokwele (34), a qualified health safety practitioner currently working as a freelance technician, said he would stop being a technician if he was offered a cleaning job. “I need something stable and that will give me a fixed salary come month end,” he said.

Nyapisi said the applicants would be shortlisted and called in for interviews. She said the placement of cleaners would take place throughout October.

 

Originally published on Wits Vuvuzela October 2017

Wits opens a public bid for Alex land to raise funds toward student accommodation.

Wits University opened up proposals from development bidders who wish to partner with the university for the Frankenwald land, which belongs to Wits, located in the north of Johannesburg. The university’s decision to open the land for bidding came in response to the ongoing shortage of student accommodation which currently houses 6150 beds for a student population of more than 37 000.
University spokesperson Shirona Patel said, “The proceeds from the development of the land will be used to benefit students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Wits University needs to address and remove the financial barriers faced by academically deserving students from underprivileged backgrounds. The university thus seeks to earn an income from the development to ensure that no student who qualifies academically is excluded from a university education due to financial barriers.”

Patel added that the City of Johannesburg and the Gauteng province will be looking at the proposals submitted by development bidders.

“The university has asked all development proposers to take into consideration the close proximity to Alexandra to ensure that proposals include affordable accommodation for low-income South Africans, as well as the provision of job opportunities,” she added. This follows ongoing protests by Alexandra residents wanting to occupy the Wits land.

In an interview with Business Day on July, 11 2017, Wits Vice Chancellor Adam Habib had indicated the ongoing plans of the university to lease out two properties in central Johannesburg, as well as an open bid to the Frankenwald land.

“Our big plan is to develop it [Frankenwald] together with public and private partners to get annuity income hopefully in the region of R100m a year, which down the line we will deploy for students,” Habib said.

Patel further told Wits Vuvuzela that the university had made a commitment to sourcing more buildings and extending existing buildings including Barnato Hall by 110 beds as well as David Webster Hall by 113 rooms as from the 2018 academic year.

Lesley Ramutlwa, a Wits student from Alexandra, indicated that he agreed with the plans of the university. “This model of using university assets to generate income that will cover social cost is the best.” Ramutlwa also said that he believes “Alex residents are entitled to raise questions but targeting Wits won’t solve their housing challenges. They must direct their anger to government. They [Alex residents] want to punish the buyer not the seller which is government,” he added.

Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela, Alex community leader, Thabang Lediga said, “People of Alexandra need that land for human settlements and anything outside that is not addressing the situation in Alex and should not be seen as a priority. We sympathise with the shortage of accommodation by Wits but we need not convince anyone about the situation in Alex. We are planning to visit Wits, City of Joburg and the Gauteng department of human settlements to highlight the importance of housing in Alexandra which they might have forgotten.”

Patel says the university and the City of Joburg will, through its Communication and Community Liaison unit, “engage with all affected communities in the near
future”.

Originally published on Wits Vuvuzela  July 2017