Salute to the dreamers Music provided a way for audiences to imagine a fun, non-racial and free South Africa with the first Free People’s Concert held on the Wits campus in 1971. A reimagined version of this took place on 3 September 2022 when Jesse Clegg (BA 2012, BA Hons 2013) and Sipho Mchunu paid tribute to Johnny Clegg (BA 1976, BA Hons 1977, DMus 2007) and other pioneering “dreamers”. Images: Brett Eloff and Wits Archives
Tribute to alumnus Johnny Clegg with son Jesse Clegg
In this issue
C E N T E NA R IA N
REGULARS VICE-CHANCELLOR’S NOTE ............. 05 LETTERS .................................. 06 HOMECOMING .............................08 C O U R A G E O U S F R I E N D S . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 8 WITSIES WITH THE EDGE ................ 42 INTERNATIONAL WITSIES ................58 BOOKS .................................... 70 IN MEMORIAM ............................ 80 WITS END ................................ 95
Legal colossus GLIMPSES FROM THE REMARKABLE LIFE OF SIR SYDNEY KENTRIDGE KC
Cover image: Danist Soh, Unsplash
F E AT U R E : L AW
Instrument of change
W I T SI E S WITH THE EDGE
FARANAAZ VERIAVA’S PASSION FOR EVERY CHILD’S RIGHT TO EDUC ATION
LEADERSHIP ACCOLADE FOR DR BOITUMELO SEMETEMAKOKOTLELA
I N T E R NAT IONA L W I T SI E
Ozzie unicorn DAVID SHEIN’S TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL COMPANY
WITS RO SE
2 WITS REVIEW
A modern antique
F E AT U R E : H E A LT H S C I E N C E S
2022 Best Rural Doctor DR CRAIG PARKER ON THE POWER OF S TAR TING FROM SCRATCH
M A G A Z I N E Editor Peter Maher Contributors Heather Dugmore, Jacqueline Steeneveldt, Ufrieda Ho, Professor Chris Thurman, Didi Mmatladi Photography Brett Eloff, Chante Schatz Graphic design Jignasa Diar
C OU R AG E O U S F R I E N D S
Published by the Office of Alumni Relations, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Address: Private Bag 3, Wits, 2050, South Africa / T +27 (0)11 717 1090 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.wits.ac.za/alumni www.facebook.com/witsalumni/ www.twitter.com/witsalumni www.linkedin.com/groups/76204 www.flickr.com/groups/witsie/
An enduring legacy
NADINE GORDIMER’S INFLUENCE S TILL FELT AT WITS
Update contact details: www.wits.ac.za/alumni/ updateyourdetails Subscriptions per copy: South Africa R50 (incl. VAT & postage) International R100 (incl. postage)
32 S O C IA L S
History as collage JOBURG PREMIERE OF WILLIAM KENTRIDGE’S L ATES T WORK
WE CELEBRATE A CENTURY OF WITSIE SPORTING ACHIEVEMENTS
Payment options: Online payment using a Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Diners Club credit card at: www.wits.ac.za/alumni/payment or by electronic transfer or bank deposit to: First National Bank, Account No. 62077141580, Branch Code 255-005, Ref. No. 29613 (+ your name) or by cash or credit card payment at the Alumni Office. WITSReview is published twice a year. The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the editor, the Office of Alumni Relations or of the University of the Witwatersrand. ©Copyright of all material in this publication is vested in the authors thereof. Requests to reproduce any of the material should be directed to the editor. WITSReview Magazine, Volume 48, November edition 2022
Nov ember 2022 3
Image: Shivan Parusnath
A spirit worthy of celebration
his year has been extraordinary in every sense. We came back to a campus that was abuzz with the energy of thousands of students and staff members who had endured two years of pandemic-enforced seclusion. The timing of the pandemic’s downward trajectory was fortuitous as it coincided with our centenary year. This allowed us to hold in-person celebration events and embark on a global outreach programme. It also allowed us to normalise teaching and learning, and students were elated to finally be able to graduate in the Great Hall again. A university is not just an institution that awards qualifications and conducts research. We are a global community of Witsies with many maintaining lifelong connections to former lecturers, classmates and to the University. This year was an ideal opportunity to strengthen our relationship with all constituencies of the University as we celebrated 100 years of remarkable growth and success. A highlight for me has been the opportunity to celebrate our centenary with the global alumni community. I travelled to the East and West coasts of America, the UK, and Canada, meeting a range of Witsies, in their homes, boardrooms and at reunion events. As I write this I am about to leave for Australia. What has struck me on all these visits is the warmth with which I have been welcomed and the gratitude alumni express for the quality of education they received at Wits.
These trips reinforce the University’s reputation as a global institution and are an opportunity for us to learn about the successes and achievements of Wits graduates in the diaspora. Another highlight was the Homecoming Weekend we held from 2 – 4 September 2022. It was a jam-packed three days, from a spectacular light show projected onto the façade of the Great Hall to a homage to the Free People’s Concert. But what moved many to tears was witnessing the joyous spirit of a modern-day Rag Parade winding its way through the streets of Braamfontein. I was honoured to lead the parade and I have never felt prouder to be a Witsie than being part of this jubilant celebration of students, staff and alumni. I am very heartened and grateful for the support and goodwill that has been shown to me personally and to the University during this special year. Going into next year, the bar has been set. Our Centenary fundraising campaign has surpassed all expectation with our various teams raising over R2.5 billion and is on track to meet our ambitious target of R3 billion to support research, teaching and learning, infrastructure, and students. Given the trajectory of the University over the past century and spurred on by our achievements this year I can say with confidence, “The best is yet to come.” Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, Vice-Chancellor and Principal
Nov ember 2022 5
Letters THE SECRET MIDNIGHT SWIM
I so enjoyed reading the April 2022 WITSReview until I came to the “In Memoriam” section where, much to my dismay and sorrow, I learned that Dr Khalid Ismail (MBBCh 1963) had passed away on 12 August 2021. Khalid was a classmate of mine at Wits Medical School, and in reading his beautiful obituary, I was not surprised to learn that he had been a revered physician and humanitarian during his many years of practice in Polokwane. He justifiably received many achievement awards during his years of service to the community, but there is one story I would like to share with your readers who probably are unaware of this small anecdote, but it says a lot about who Khalid was and what he stood for. In 1963 our final year medical school class was divided into groups called “firms”, each consisting of five white students and one non-white student. In our firm, Khalid was the token non-white student. During one of the rotations through the different medical subspecialties, we were assigned to the Department of Surgery at Baragwanath Hospital. We spent 24 hours a day at Bara for several weeks, and for recreation there were two sets of tennis courts, one for whites and one for blacks, and “never the twain shall meet.” It was forbidden to play inter-racial tennis at Bara. In addition to the separate tennis courts, there was one beautiful, almost Olympic size swimming 6 WITS REVIEW
Stay in touch: Please share your news and remember to update your contact details. Please email letters to email@example.com
pool, and you guessed it, it was for whites only. One day, out of the blue, Khalid said that he wanted to swim in the whites-only swimming pool. Khalid was a quiet, gentle soul, and his motivation was unspoken, but I think we knew why. So, one night at midnight, we all climbed over the fence surrounding the pool, five of us stood guard and without further ado, Khalid dove into the water, and much to our delight, swam the length of the pool. Even though we hadn’t brought about the end of apartheid, thanks to courageous Khalid, we all felt wonderful as we ran back to our segregated living quarters. I’m not sure why I’m relating this story, but it happened 60 years ago and I remember it like it occurred yesterday. David Levy (MBBCh 1963)
May the past be a prelude to yet a second century of academic leadership. With warmest regards and sincere good wishes, Professor Geoffrey Sperber (BSc 1954, BDS 1956, BSc Hons 1958, PhD 1973)
I HAVE SUCH FOND MEMORIES OF THIS LECTURER
I have just read about “influential readers” in civil engineering the latest WITSReview and wondered whether you might consider doing something similar about those who have led the construction management discipline. I have such fond and clear memories of Prof Doug Calderwood who, as I recall, steered the BSc building programme in its early days. His jovial character and accessible explanations on a range of topics have stayed with me throughout my career. Of the many phrases I can clearly hear him say, “be humble” is one of them. He was true to his word... As an BSc building alumnus and a member of staff in the 1980s it would be fitting to see Prof Calderwood acknowledged and for our discipline gain some exposure. Willy Sher (BSc Building 1973)
THANKS FOR THE EFFORT MAY IT BE PRELUDE TO A SECOND CENTURY
My heartiest congratulations on your magnificent Centennial publication of WITSReview. The magazine encompasses the remarkable history of Wits University and the accomplishments of its alumni and alumnae in different parts of the world. It is truly an international powerhouse of education and research in diverse fields of discovery.
WITSReview really has to be one of the highest quality University alumni magazines around. I’ve seen the tremendous care and effort taken on my article, I can just imagine the thought and effort, which must go into producing the magazine as a whole. I’m sure there are many of my alumni compatriots who feel the same way and who, as a result, feel all the more proud of being a Wits Alum. Tom Lewis (MBA 1972)
ENGINEERING A MOVIEINSPIRED RAG STUNT
WITSReview April 2022 was another great edition. The articles concerning Brian Watt (BSc Eng 1962) and Duncan Wanblad (BSc Eng 1989, GDE 1997) in particular brought back many memories. Brian, apart from being a brilliant engineer, was a great fun-loving character. This was epitomised in a Rag stunt, when he led an “assault” on The Bridge On The River Kwai, a movie on at His Majesty’s Theatre at the time. (See pic). It is also very good to see an engineer carrying on again at the helm of Anglo American. I think in this instance it is appropriate to quote Einstein: “Scientists investigate that which already exists, Engineers create that which has never been”. Many thanks for the outstanding WITSReview. Tony Freeman (BSc Eng 1967)
HEY, THAT’S MY MOM!
Just to congratulate you on the latest WITSReview which contained so many evocative items. Of interest to me in particular, there were two pictures of my mother, Betty Liknaitzky in 1922; one in the “fashions of the twenties” and the other on the 1922 SRC. I also have a picture of her in the mock funeral procession when the college moved from central Johannesburg to the Milner Park campus. I was at Wits in the fifties and was also on the SRC. I look forward to the dinner and hope to meet some old acquaintances and some new ones. With best wishes, Sheila Miller, née Smith (BA 1956, BA Hons 1959)
Nov ember 2022 7
8 WITS REVIEW
Paint a city blue and gold More than 10 000 Wits staff and students across faculties and departments joined the special Centenary parade on 2 September 2022. In a spirit reminiscent of Wits Rag, Witsies wore wigs, miners’ hats, tutus and academic gowns, waving balloons, flags and banners. Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Zeblon Vilakazi said: “We built this city. Let’s paint it blue and gold” before taking the wheel in his classic Ford Galaxie 500 to lead the procession through the streets of Braamfontein. Image: Brett Eloff
Nov ember 2022 9
12 W I T S R E V I E W 10
Pictures: Flickr Wits Homecoming Parade 2022 Video: YouTube Centenary Parade
Images: Brett Eloff, Waldo Swiegers
Apr il 2022 13 Nov ember 11
12 W I T S R E V I E W
Pictures: Flickr Wits Homecoming Welcome Event | Light Show
Videos: YouTube Welcome Event | Light Show
A night to remember Alumni in Johannesburg were welcomed to an evening of cocktails on the Solomon Mahlangu Concourse on the Friday evening of the Homecoming Weekend. They collected Centenary goodie bags, enjoyed performances by the Wits Choir and posed for photographs with Wits mascots. “Tonight is about celebrating you who represent the best in us,” said Professor Zeblon Vilakazi. The welcome event was followed by an interactive light show by Marcus Neustetter (BA FA 1999, MA FA 2001) and The Trinity Session, titled “Visible Resonance”. The iconic Great Hall was illuminated, and the audience was taken through the past 100 years of South African history. Images: Brett Eloff
Nov ember 2022 13
MARK ORKIN PETER MAHER, PROF VILAKAZI AND AMERICAN CONSUL GENERAL, VINCENT SPERA
SCHOLARSHIP BOARDS UNVEILING
Forever in the Great Hall
PROFESSOR HUDSON MTEGHA AND DR NOKUHLE MTEGHA
AMIR REZAEI AND NOSIPHO GUMEDE
The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, and Alumni Relations hosted an intimate ceremony on 3 September 2022 to honour and celebrate recipients of three prestigious scholarships awarded since the University’s inception: Rhodes, Fulbright and Mandela Rhodes. The names of recipients are now permanently etched on scholarship boards housed in the foyer of the Great Hall. “We need to make the achievements and success of our alumni and staff visible; to inspire students, to give recognition to those who excel, and to reflect our standing as one of the world’s great universities,” said Peter Maher, director of Alumni Relations. 14 W I T S R E V I E W
CIKIDA GCALI-MABUSEL A
Main photo: (Front from left to right): Stephen Tollman, Sha’ista Goga, Mandisa Mathobela, Eddie Webster, Mark Orkin, Graham Craig, Cikida Gcali-Mabusela, Vukosi Marivate, Sekibakiba Lekgoathi, Lucy Allais (Back) Mulweli Mathagu, Owen Horwood, Saul Musker, Allen Leuta, Amir Rezaei, Max Price, Chandni Gopal, Shahana Rasool Left: Cebolenkosi Khumalo, SRC President 2022 and Graham Craig, SRC President 1972 (also Rhodes Scholar 1974), with the Vice-Chancellor Images: Brett Eloff
Homecoming Scholarship Boards Unveiling Ceremony
LUCY ALLAIS AND MAX PRICE
Nov ember 2022 15
Songs of hope Music lovers enjoyed Vusi Mahlasela's poetic African folk melodies as the sun set on 3 September 2022. The concert catered for a variety of tastes and all proceeds were donated to the Wits Food Bank, which supports food-insecure students. Image: Waldo Swiegers
16 W I T S R E V I E W
Nov ember 2022 17
A lifetime of friendships The Centenary Founders’ Tea was held on the warm spring morning of 4 September 2022 on the Gavin Relly Green, West Campus. Around 450 guests had much to reminisce about after a two-year COVID hiatus and Alumni Relations welcomed the classes of 1980, 1981 and 1982 to their first tea. Former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke provided an inspiring talk on the value of institutions of higher learning as keynote speaker, while Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, outlined recent developments at Wits and Chancellor Dr Judy Dlamini gave a special vote of thanks. One of the oldest attendees, 94-year-old David Lopatie (BCom 1950, CA 1953), remembered his time on campus alongside ex-servicemen and the makeshift huts on the library lawns. “My first lecture was at 8am and I had free time until 5pm.” He remembered sitting around the pool steps listening to the debates between Professors Phillip Tobias and Sydney Brenner: “I got a suntan and a political education,” he said. Around the tables, the fondness for the University and fellow alumni was palpable. “This University means a lot to me,” said Paul Taylor (BSc Eng 1962). “I made friends here that are still my friends after 60 years.” Images: Vivid, Brett Eloff
4 WWI ITTSS RREEVVI IEEWW 18
Apr il 2022 2022 19 5 Nov ember
SPECIAL WISHES FOR THEIR ALMA MATER: • Michael Marsh (BSc Eng 1973): “Keep going. Instead of only focusing on social differences, the world needs help with the environment, global warming, water shortages, energy etc. The best brains in the world are not doing enough.” • Pamela Bailey (BA 1963) “May Wits continue to be at the cutting edge of education, social justice and upliftment.” • Tessa Ziegler (BMus 1970): “A privilege to be here on the Wits 100th. Thank you for all the luminaries who contributed so meaningfully to our democracy – we really need you!” Pictures: Flickr Founders' Tea 2022
20 6 WWI ITTS S RREEVVI IEEWW
Video: YouTube Founders' Tea
AMONG THE MANY SPECIAL MEMORIES SHARED: • Paul Edey (BA 1979, PDipEd 1979): “Phyllis Lawson’s history lectures, the marches against apartheid in 1976; the WITS Student magazine, which challenged and provoked; watching Wits FC playing at the Milpark Stadium.” • Carol Clark (BA 1968, PDipLib 1972): “Robert Kennedy’s visit to Wits in 1966.” • Dr Jane Townsend (BA 1971, BA Hons 1973, MEd 1982, PhD 1991): “I arrived at Wits in 1967 when the iron huts were used. The overnight library I haunted and rushed down to from a lecture to book the books we were told we needed to use for our essays. I was the JCE Rag princess.” • Dorothy Hodgskiss (BEd Hons 1974): “I loved the experience of creating lessons and being watched through a two-way mirror. I got chastised for letting my pupil be too noisy!” • Martin Pomeroy (BSc Eng cum laude 1964): “The sing-songs at the swimming pool led by Des and Dawn Lindberg and the Rag week in the early 1960s.” • Derek Diamond (BSc 1980, BSc Hons 1981): “Graduating and receiving prizes with hair down to my back and beard down to my chest!” • Raymond Druker (BA 1973): “Met my wife on the first day of orientation week. (Not sure if it was the great personality or the miniskirt and long hair.) The belief that we were actually achieving something. Remember police dogs and police charging just after being pulled with loudhailer off the fire hydrant. Wonderful years of victorious idealism.” Nov ember Apr il2022 2022 21 7
Reunions United States and Canada 8-12 MAY 2022 8-14 SEP TEMBER 2022
Pictures: Flickr 2022 : Wits Alumni West Coast Reunions | New York Alumni Reunion | Boston Alumni Reunion | Toronto Alumni Reunion
22 20 W I T S R E V I E W
Alumni on the West Coast of the United States and Vancouver attended centenary reunions in San Diego, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver between 8-12 May 2022. Alumni from the East Coast connected with the University’s leaders over cocktails in Boston, New York and Toronto between 8-14 September 2022. Alumni were given an overview of Wits’ achievements as well as an understanding of how they could make a difference to their alma mater. Images: Peter Maher
Pictures: Flickr 2022: Wits Alumni Reunion in London | Wits Alumni Reunions in Oxford & Cambridge
20-23 JUNE 2022 In celebration of the University’s centenary, Vice-Chancellor Professor Zeblon Vilakazi and the director of Alumni Relations, Peter Maher, hosted alumni reunions in London, Oxford and Cambridge between 20-23 June 2022. It offered alumni the opportunity to catch up on Wits news, renew friendships and share memories. Images: Orde Eliason, Peter Maher
Nov ember Apr il 2022 23 21
Health Sciences Alumni Week The Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Professor Shabir Madhi, welcomed graduates to the faculty’s favourite social event, which was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic for the past two years. Witsies from far and wide joined the hybrid programme held from 5-10 September 2022. It included a special sit-down breakfast with the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, and an Alumni Symposium, which provided a unique platform for alumni to showcase their life’s work, research, interests, and passions. A hugely successful Alumni Art Exhibition also took place. Visitors were treated to guided tours of Maropeng, the RedBus as well as the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute with Professor Helen Rees. Video: YouTube
View photo slideshow
Images: Didi Mmatladi
5-10 SEPTEMBER 2022
Class of 1971 5oth anniversary
Video: YouTube 50th reunion - MBBCh 1971
9 JULY 2022
The Medical Class of 1971 belatedly celebrated their 50th class anniversary via a “Zoom Saloon” connecting alumni in South Africa, the United States, the United Kingdom, Botswana, Australia and New Zealand. The class representative Dr Patricia Biddulph, née Hayne (MBBCh 1971, DTM&H) explained the challenges of getting the event organised as very few email addresses for the class were available. She said it was at once “hilarious and frustrating”. The group remembered classmates who had died and shared updates of their professional and personal lives.
24 W I T S R E V I E W
Ernest Oppenheimer Hall 24 SEPTEMBER 2022
Thirty seven “Old Boys”, and some of their partners, met for lunch at Mikes Heritage House in Parktown for a successful 50th reunion of the Ernest Oppenheimer Hall on 24 September 2022. The meeting was preceded by a walk around EOH and the Wits Business School surrounds. They arranged a Zoom call on a large screen to include overseas alumni. “We were all very pleased to see the excellent condition EOH and WBS surrounds are in and that all the honours boards and old photos are still in place. We were also well received by EOH management, the warden, VC of house comm and the students themselves. We wish Wits and EOH all of the very best for the next 100 years,” said one of the co-ordinators Malcolm Fawkes (BSc 1977).
SAVE THE DATE:
Front: Mike Bouter, Chris Grealy, Mark Sturgeon, Graham Rose, Malcolm Fawkes, Peter van der Bijl, Rob Mellon, Rob Hurlin, Rob Boutelje, Gavin Reid, Olaf Saether Back: Rory Kirk, Brian Broekman, Anton van Olst, Dave Douglas, Chris Brooker, Simon Lorentz, Bruce Paterson, Les Kolling, Rob Ballentine Image: Rob Hurlin
8 –9 DECEM BER 20 22
The Medical Class of 1992 will celebrate their 30th anniversary on 8-9 December 2022. Planned activities include tours of the medical school with a special lecture and tours of Charlotte Maxeke Hospital or possibly Bara; Redbus Tour and a dinner party, Wits hoodies will be procured for the whole class. Contact Prof Jonathan Patricios at Jonathan.Patricios@wits.ac.za or Didi Mmatladi at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nov ember 2022 25
History as collage The Wits Art Museum hosted the South African premiere of William Kentridge’s (BA 1977, DLitt honoris causa 2004) Oh to Believe in Another World on 27 July 2022 in celebration of the University’s centenary and the museum’s first decade. A select group of guests explored a mixture of Kentridge’s charcoal drawings, collaged lithographs, mixed media puppets and bronze sculptures. The centerpiece film, an installation made in response to Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10 in E minor, Op. 93, later accompanied a live orchestral performance by the Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra (conducted by Joseph Young) at the Linder Auditorium. The protagonists in the film include: pianist and composer Elmira Nazirova; poet Vladimir Mayakovsky; author Lilya Brik; Vladimir Lenin; Leon Trotsky; Joseph Stalin and Shostakovich himself. It glimpses at four decades of the Soviet Union. It appears to be set inside an abandoned Soviet museum, but it’s a tiny cardboard structure and the viewer is guided by a miniature camera looking at a Lilliputian world. The music is chaotic, melancholic and grandiose, while the scenes are punctuated with texts from Mayakovsky’s writing: “We’ll chase humanity into happiness with an iron fist”. Kentridge was awarded the Queen Sonja Lifetime Achievement Award in June 2022 to acknowledge his lifetime contribution to graphic art and printmaking. 26 W I T S R E V I E W
• Oh to Believe in Another World is currently on exhibition at the Goodman Gallery in London until 12 November 2022. • The Royal Academy of Arts hosts a major autumn exhibition of Kentridge’s work until 11 December 2022. Also see Page 70 for Professor Stephen Clingman’s (BA 1977, BA Hons 1978) catalogue for the exhibition. Videos: YouTube William Kentridge: Wits University believes in another world | Kentridge Studio Images: Vivid, Chante Schatz
Nov ember 2022 27
Courageous friends NADINE GORDIMER (DLitt honoris causa 1984), Nobel Prize recipient for Literature in 1991, was a close friend of Wits. Born in Springs and educated at the local convent school, she enrolled at Wits in 1946, but left after only one year. In 2008 she told WITSReview: “I don’t know why I did that really. At 20 I had read much more than was on the reading list. I’d already educated myself. But there were one or two good people there and I think it stimulated my critical sense.” At Wits she mixed with fellow students from diverse racial, class and national backgrounds for the first time. Gordimer maintained a lifelong connection to the University, giving generously of her time. She often appeared on campus to participate in colloquia and alumni events. When asked what people could learn from her writing she said: “I’m not teaching anybody anything. The best I could say and hope for is (as I read other writers) that they should question their own set ideas. Think again about your certainties.”
NADINE GORDIMER THINK AGAIN A B O U T YO U R CERTAI N T I ES
TH E AN NUAL N ADINE GOR D I ME R ME MORI AL L E CT URE BR I NG S G LO BA L TH I N K E R S AN D AC AD EMIC S TO THE U NI V ER S I T Y. ES TA BL I S HED B Y TH E W I T S S CHO O L O F LITERATUR E A ND L ANGUAGE S T UD I E S I N 2 0 0 4 , I T OF F ER S A N O P P O R T U N I T Y TO REFLECT ON THE RO LE O F L I T ER AT U R E I N T HE P U BL I C S P HER E A N D I N E D U C ATI O N. PREVIOUS LUMINARIES I NCL U DE S U S A N S ONTAG , A MA R T YA S E N A N D C A R LO S FU EN TES . THIS YEAR AC CL A I MED AU T HOR A ND P OET D R MA N D L A L A NG A ( D L I T T H O NORIS C AUSA , MA 202 0 ) S HA R ED HOW HE WA S T R A NS F O R M E D B Y R E A D I NG G ORDIMER’S WORK IN A L ECT U R E T I T L ED: “ T HE VOC A BU L A R Y O F WI T N E S S E S ” .
28 W I T S R E V I E W
Video: YouTube 2022 Nadine Gordimer Lecture: The Vocabulary of Witnesses
Nov ember 2022 29 Gallo/Getty Images
F E AT U R E : C O U R AG E O U S F R I E N D S
NELSON MANDELA WITS MADE ME WHAT I AM
30 W I T S R E V I E W
TO DAY T H E L E G AC Y O F T H E PA R T N E R S H I P B E T WE E N M A N D E L A A N D WI T S I S R E P R E S E N TE D B Y TH E N E L S O N MANDEL A INSTITUTE, MANDEL A-RHODES S CH O L A R S H I P S A S WE L L A S TH E N E L S O N M A N D E L A CH I L D R E N ' S H O S P I TA L , L AU NCH E D I N 2 017. * S E E PAG E 3 9 Video: YouTube Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital
NELSON MANDELA (LLD honoris causa 1991) was a law student from 1943 to 1949, but he did not graduate with a Wits LLB. He experienced racism and found it difficult to juggle his political commitments to the ANC Youth League and his studies. While at Wits he befriended anti-apartheid activists such as Joe Slovo (BA 1948, LLB 1951), Ruth First (BA 1946) and George Bizos (BA 1951, LLB 1954, LLD honoris causa 1999). He said the University exposed him “to a new world of ideas and political debates, a world where people were passionate about politics”. His applications to complete his LLB were blocked for years and only in 1998 did he qualify for his LLB from UNISA. He graciously accepted an honorary doctorate from Wits in 1991 and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. He requested a reunion with the law class of 1946, including those who had snubbed him. In November 1996 at the reunion he said: “Wits made me what I am today. I am what I am both as a result of people who respected me and helped me, and those who did not respect me and treated me badly.”
Nov ember 2022 31
NELSON MANDELA WITH JOE SLOVO
GOLDEN SPORTING MOMENTS Over the years the achievements of the University's sportsmen and women have done much to enhance the name of their alma mater. We remember a few significant milestones. See more here: https://www.wits.ac.za/alumni/history-and-traditions/wits-sport/
1961 Robbie Schwartz participated in 1960 Rome Olympics water polo squad and swimming
Clive Ulyate played Springbok rugby in 1955 and 1956; represented SA Universities at cricket, hockey and golf, and Transvaal at cricket
Athol Jennings was selected to compete in the 1500 metres at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games; he won the South African mile title eight times between 1950 and 1957
Gordon Day raced in 1960 Rome Olympic Games 4x400 metres relay
Eddie Barlow was selected for South African cricket as a student in 1961/62; vice-captain of a World XI that thrashed England in 1970
Neville Graham was South Africa’s champion gymnast for a record six times and represented SA at the world championships in Prague
1992 Mark Perrow and Neil Evans won the Dusi Canoe Marathon together in 1992 and 1996
Mandy Yachad played cricket and hockey for South Africa
Frith van der Merwe set record-breaking victories in the Comrades and Two Oceans marathons in 1989; participated in 1993 World Championships
1996 Pavlo Protopapa Won the kumite event at the world karate championships in Philadelphia
2000 Hendrick Ramaala SA’s student cross-country and 5000-metre champion; competed at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games; won the New York City Marathon in 2004
Cathy O’Dowd was the first woman in the world to summit Mount Everest from both north and south sides (1996 and 1999)
2022 Harry Saner was selected for the SA team at the African Championships in Morocco for fencing and won bronze
32 W I T S R E V I E W
Ali Bacher played Test cricket for SA 1965-70
1991 Mark Plaatjes broke the South African marathon record in 1985; won the Los Angeles Marathon in 1991; crowned World Champion in 1993
Wilf Rosenberg played rugby for the Springboks against the British Lions
2021 Robyn Johnson, Nicky Veto and Toni Marks represented South Africa in the women's hockey squad while Rusten Abrahams (left) was included in the men’s team at the Tokyo Olympic Games
Karen van den Oever set a women’s deep cave diving world record of 236.04 metres (2021), beating fellow Witsie Verna van Schaik’s 2004 record
Marvin Orie selected for Springbok rugby squad in 2018, while a student
Colleen Orsmond rowed in the 2000 Olympic Games
1930 George Stott was the first South African high-jumper to clear six feet. He won the high jump title at the SA Championships in 1921 and 1926
Buster Nupen threw a cricket ball 113 yards to win the intervarsity. He later captained the SA cricket team to a series victory over England in 1930/31 1952 Ian Stephen was a distinguished oarsman who became the first South African ever to qualify for the final of an Olympic Games rowing event 1967
1948 Paddy Dobson was Wits’ first men’s hockey Springbok
1968 Hugh Baiocchi received Springbok colours for golf as a student in 1967; won South Africa’s amateur, open and professional titles and 17 major tournaments
1972 Sonja Laxton won the South African 1500 metres (record time) and crosscountry championship in 1971; she was the first woman to be chosen for Springbok track, cross country and marathon teams
Neville Berman scored 50 goals for Wits hockey in the 1968 season; led South Africa to victory over Olympic champions Germany in 1974 2005
Tandi (née Gerrard) Indergaard won gold in diving at the All-Africa Games. She became a three-time British diving champion and represented Great Britain at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games
2014 Dr Otto Thaning set a world record for the oldest man to swim across the English Channel at the age of 73
Kathy Hardy South African squash champion as a student (19721974); reached final of 1972 British Open
Bruce Fordyce won nine Comrades Marathons between 1981 and 1990
2004 Lydia Monyepao represented South Africa at the 2002/2004 Women’s AFCON and the 2003 All Africa Games; managed Banyana Banyana 2012-2014; COO of SA Football Association
1931 Henry Forrest The first Witsie to play international rugby (1931/32) – within two years of learning to play at Wits
Gary Bailey goalkeeper for Wits football in 1976, went on to play for Manchester United and in the England World Cup squad (1986)
Des Cohen represented South Africa at swimming at the 1948 London Olympic Games and waterpolo at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics
Paul Nash equalled the world record for the 100 metres sprint five times in 1968
1987 Victor Radebe was the first Witsie to break the four-minute barrier in the mile; ninth fastest miler in the world
JH ‘Snaar’ Viljoen, Wits all-round star in 1927, later won gold in the high jump and silver in the long jump at the Hamilton Empire Games in 1930
Wits produced South African martial arts champions in judo (Rudolf van Schalkwyk and Calvin Fourie) and karate (Priscilla Garvey and Dylon Adam)
2013 Odette Richard, [right] South Africa’s leading rhythmic gymnast, and hockey player Fiona Butler took part in the Olympic Games in Beijing
Nuno Gomes set world records for deepest cave dive (282.6 metres, in 1996) and deepest sea dive (321.81 metres, in 2005) 2008
Graeme Willcox was in winning teams in both the Lipton Cup and Cape to Rio yacht races
Nov ember 2022 33
(Tune: “Stars and Stripes.” )
We’re the boldest and the best of ‘Varsity, For we’ve brought all her fame and glory, If you lads want the finest faculty Just you listen now and we will tell you our story...
For there on the crest of the hill Stands out our Medical School That we will cherish... – snippet from the SRC faculty songbook, 1964
WITSREVIEW SALUTES AN ICONIC MENTOR FROM WITS’ FACULTY OF HEALTH SCIENCES. WE SHARE STORIES OF MEDICS PASSIONATE ABOUT PUBLIC HEALTH WHO ARE FINDING INNOVATIVE WAYS TO AMELIORATE HEALTHCARE ACCESS CONSTRAINTS.
34 W I T S R E V I E W
F E AT U R E : I C O N I C M E N T O R
All things human M “I’m often asked why I didn’t marry or have children. I’ve had 10 000 children. Those medics, dentists, therapists, pharmacists, nurses who’ve been through here – those are my children.”
PROFESSOR PHILLIP V TOBIAS
uch loved and respected Professor Phillip V Tobias (BSc 1946, BSc Hons 1947, MBBCh 1950, PhD 1953, DSc honoris causa 1994), spent his entire academic career at Wits, from when he started as a student in 1943 until his death as emeritus professor in 2012. He was an excellent lecturer and public speaker, who endeared himself to students and had a genuine interest in their welfare. He described his life’s concerns as “all things human, humane, humanitarian, and humanistic”. He grounded himself in a range of disciplines: science, anatomy, medicine, genetics, biology and palaeontology – but he was best known for his research on fossil hominids and human evolution. Along with Louis Leakey and John Napier, he described Homo habilis in 1964. In 1966 he initiated a long-term excavation at the dolomitic limestone cave deposit of Sterkfontein, which has become the world’s richest single deposit for hominid remains: the Cradle of Humankind. Professor Tobias was vocal about his opposition to the injustices of apartheid, as a student and as a lecturer at Wits, emphasising “race is irrelevant in matters of the mind and spirit”. He was president of the non-racial National Union of South African Students, which rejected segregated education. He participated in protests against the Group Areas Act, the Suppression of Communism Act, the Population Registration Act, and the xenophobic violence in 2008. He complained to the South African Medical Council regarding the treatment of Steve Biko, who died in police custody in 1977. He said: “I’m often asked why I didn’t marry or have children. I’ve had 10 000 children. Those medics, dentists, therapists, pharmacists, nurses who’ve been through here – those are my children.”
Nov ember 2022 35
F E AT U R E : H E A LT H S C I E N C E S
“It landed in my heart”
Dr Craig Parker (MBBCh 2015) left a career in engineering to work in a public hospital and serves in one of the country’s poorest regions in South Africa. Named the Best Rural Doctor of the Year in 2022, he tells us why he finds his job so rewarding. BY JACQUELINE STEENEVELDT
36 W I T S R E V I E W
uch has been written about midlife and its perils – research suggests even primates undergo a phase of unhappiness in middle age. Dante said, aged 35: “Midway on our life’s journey, I found myself / In a dark wood, the right road lost.” In 2011, at the age of 39, Dr Craig Parker walked away from two decades of a lucrative career as a mechanical mining engineer. “I didn’t see the purpose in what I was doing. I was frustrated by the long lag between what you do and the feedback. I just felt I was helping to make rich people richer and there wasn’t much satisfaction in that. It wore me down,” he says in a Zoom interview from his study in Gonubie, a small seaside village about a 15-minute drive from East London, on the sunshine coast of the Eastern Cape. “On the [mining] projects I always tried to build a school or a clinic or something and there was always lots of talk in the beginning, but never seemed to be enough time or money at the end,” he says. “It was a bit heartless.” The shelves beside him are lined with lever arch files and
The Parker family next to the Gonubie River: Adon is a second-year psychology student at Stellenbosch University, Craig, Stephanie is a grade-12 pupil at Clarendon High School for Girls and Catherine is a midwife at Life Hospital.
three degrees are proudly displayed on the wall behind him. He’s wearing a grey WildSeries running shirt – from the high-octane trail running group that takes runners through some of the country’s challenging and wild places. Craig is at pains to emphasise that the midlife career change was a “team” decision. “My family were all on board and willing to make the sacrifices. I think they could feel where I was at and knew that I needed to change.” At the time, the team consisted of his wife Catherine, née Godwin, (BNurs 1994), son Adon (11) and daughter Stephanie (9). Catherine, who had been volunteering at the kids’ school, became the family’s breadwinner as a researcher at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital and Craig embarked on the Graduate Entry Medical Programme (GEMP) at Wits. “It seemed so impossible,” he says, outlining all the initial hurdles. He had to complete biology, physiology and anatomy courses through Unisa the previous year; he was overlooked for the entrance exam and initially rejected, then subjected to an interview with the Dean to motivate his case. “I turned 40 in my first year back there. It seemed quite difficult, but it just felt right when it landed in my heart.” At the end of Craig’s final year, the family’s finances were threadbare: “We spent everything we had.
Everything was maxed out, all the credit cards. I borrowed from everyone we could borrow from. We had sold our house and the money hadn’t come through yet…I don’t think I was ever as poor as that,” he laughs. And yet: “I don’t think I was ever as happy either.”
“I NEVER WORKED SO HARD”
After a two-year internship at the tertiary government hospital in East London, Frere Hospital, Craig was placed at Victoria Hospital in Alice for community service, before moving back to Frere to work initially as a paediatric surgeon and later as an anaesthetist. Frere is not a rural hospital, but Craig has maintained contact with smaller district hospitals throughout the Eastern Cape and has been involved in the rural districts in training and outreach. Few doctors choose to serve in rural communities. A recent report by the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism highlighted that less than 3% of medical graduates end up working in rural areas 10 to 20 years after graduating. The Parker family’s sacrifices have paid off – and to the huge benefit of many others. Early in October this year Craig was awarded the 2022 Rural Doctor of the Year Award by the Rural Doctors Association of Southern Africa (RuDASA) for his work and his design of an oxygen device that saved lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. The device, known as OxERA has received recognition from the World Health Organisation and has been included in the 2022 Compendium under “innovative health technologies for low resource settings”. It’s the kind of medicine Craig’s always dreamed about: “There was more of a tangible benefit and it’s so Nov ember 2022 37
F E AT U R E : H E A LT H S C I E N C E S
rewarding.” With his unique skills set of engineering and medicine, colleagues from RuDASA’s Facebook page vouch that “his Leatherman is used just as much as his stethoscope.” The idea for OxERA came after a visit to his grandmother, who had turned 100 in March 2020 in the UK: “London was a ghost town and on the news we saw pictures of Italy and the UK’s health sector starting to implode and struggling to cope with the volume of COVID patients. I thought we would be in far bigger trouble in South Africa because we didn’t have ICU space, or enough ICU-trained nurses and equipment, and we didn’t know what effect HIV/Aids would have on the disease.” On the plane home Craig started thinking about ideas for giving patients basic pressure support and non-invasive ventilation. He put out a call for volunteers in East London and very quickly he had corralled a team of engineers, doctors, designers and 3D printing specialists. “Everything suddenly stopped and everyone was keen to help. There was a real sense of ubuntu.” One of the doctors was fellow Witsie Brendan Toy (MBBCh 2009), who had enjoyed travelling on a cruise ship for five years but settled at the adult ICU at Frere Hospital since 2018. “Craig contacted me from the departure lounge of Heathrow and proposed an idea of hope. I responded with belief and ventured forth to assist Craig in making this hope a reality,” writes Brendan. Within three months, the volunteers had a working prototype. “I’ve never worked so hard in my life,” Craig says with a chuckle. “I worked about 18 hours a day, doing
clinical work and then testing things.” Through trial and error Craig and his team of volunteers realised that improving oxygen delivery was more important than pressure support for breathing. They watched in awe as patient after patient’s oxygen concentrations improved with every breath with one of their designs. They worked on refining the simple mask which eventually became the OxERA.
“WE NEED A DIFFERENT MODEL”
The device, which helped prevent lung collapse, was welcomed by doctors working in district areas at the height of the pandemic. “The ICUs were full and about 50 patients were waiting in casualty. Around 30 of those patients were not coping. As fast we could make them, people were taking them and using them,” says Craig. The team joined forces with Gabler Medical to produce a standardised, regulated medical device and gave rise to a company called Umoya, which translates as “spirit” or breath in isiXhosa. The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority issued a licence in December 2020 and they were able to supply devices to those in need in difficult-to-reach places along the coast and as far away as Zimbabwe, Zambia, eSwatini, Peru and Bolivia. Craig is excited about the company’s model, in which all profits are ploughed back into the project with the prospect of job creation through the local manufacture and distribution process. “If we’re ever going to narrow the gap between those who have and those who don’t, we need a different model, such as companies that are willing
HOW THE OXERA WORKS The team called their invention the Oxygen Efficient Respiratory Aid, better known as OxERA. The device works with a well-sealed mask and a valve that helps the lungs stay inflated. It is described as an “all-in-one device using an oxygen accumulator bag, an anaesthetic mask and an adjustable mechanical peep valve (a spring-loaded valve which the patient exhales against) that is cost-effective and oxygen efficient”. It is more efficient because it requires far less oxygen than non-invasive ventilation or high flow oxygen therapy. In this way, the patient’s oxygen levels are kept where they need to be without overusing resources. See more from their website: https://umoya.org.za/ YouTube: OxERA –a South African invention that helped solve the oxygen crisis
38 W I T S R E V I E W
F E AT U R E : H E A LT H S C I E N C E S
Image: Lauge Sorensen
to forgo huge profit margins.” Like a modern medical MacGyver, Craig seems unfazed by challenges: “There are days when you struggle – but I’ve always been a glass half full kind of guy. It requires far less energy,” he says. “There is something about doing something new, doing something you know nothing about and feeling ‘stupid’ again. We tend to get quite puffed up about our own importance and our own knowledge. And to start again somewhere when you know nothing is good for our character. We should probably all do it.”
“More universities should adopt it” The Graduate Entry Medical Programme, or GEMP, allows applicants who meet certain minimum requirements to enter into the third year of the MBBCh degree. “I really, really enjoyed it. It was well-structured and integrated so well. I enjoyed the diversity. We had people who had done fine art and music, we had physiotherapists, dentists and chiropractors - with their families. It brought a richness to the class that benefited everyone. I think more universities should adopt it.”
The Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital (NMCH) is a 220-bed specialist paediatric facility located at the Wits Education Campus on land donated by Wits in 2011. It celebrated its fifth anniversary in July 2022.
DR NONKULULEKO BOIKHUTSO
A living legacy
WITSReview caught up with the hospital’s current CEO, Dr Nonkululeko Boikhutso (MBBCh 2005, MM 2012), who has been at the hospital since its inception, initially as its clinical manager. She has shared in media interviews that she is the only child of a single mother and was raised in Soweto. Her passion for public health was sparked by two traumatic events in her childhood. When she was nine years old, she was in the Johannesburg CBD with her mother when she was injured in a bomb blast. A few years later, at age 14, she was diagnosed with an ovarian germ cell tumour. On both occasions, she was treated in public hospitals. Dr Boikhutso received her Fellowship in Public Health Medicine in 2012 and worked at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital as a clinical manager responsible for mother and child services. “I worked with Prof Peter Cooper (PhD 1999) and Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng (former clinical director) who supported me through the management journey. When some of the paediatricians started leaving for the NMCH my interest was piqued," she says.
Nov ember 2022 39
F E AT U R E : H E A LT H S C I E N C E S THE NEONATAL INTENSIVE CARE UNIT OFFERS SPECIALISED CARE FOR THE SEVERELY ILL CHILD FROM AGES OF 0-6 WEEKS Image: Lauge Sorensen
What makes the NMC hospital special? The origins of the hospital are truly what make it special. It was Mr Mandela’s dream inspired by the loss of a child, Lindokuhle Mkhabela. Lindokuhle was the son of the former CEO of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, Dr Sibongile Mkhabela. His young life inspired this investment for the children of South Africa and broader Southern African community. The hospital was built through the collaboration of civil society organisations, institutions of higher learning, corporate sponsors, international donors and is now being run with government support. It is an example of what collaboration can achieve to improve the lives of children on the continent. Most importantly, the hospital is equipped with some of the best medical technology available and specialist staff who provide quality care. Could you outline what the partnership between the hospital and the University entails? Any challenges/benefits you've encountered? Many of the former academic and clinical staff from the University were part of the steering committees who advised on the direction the hospital should take and the services which should be provided. The hospital and the University signed a memorandum of understanding in 2021 to cement this long-standing partnership which will now be carried through the operational and academic aspects of the hospital. The greatest advantage in having academic partners is that the work that we do in the hospital is informed by the latest evidence in the field, our credibility is boosted and there is a network of academics and clinicians which the staff
40 W I T S R E V I E W
can be part of to support continuous professional development. What's the favourite part of your job as CEO? Least favourite? The best part of the job for me is when I hear the testimonials from parents whose children have received care and some of the cutting-edge work being done by the specialists. My least favourite is probably having to be the “face” of the hospital as I am a private person but it’s part of the job and I will learn to love it too in time. What are your memories as student at Wits? The most vivid memories are the excursion we did as medical students to Tintswalo Hospital in Bushbuckridge and Elim Hospital in Limpopo. My experience of these settings and some of the resource constraints that existed motivated me to study public health medicine instead of paediatric surgery, which was my initial plan. Interestingly though my most influencing lecturers were the general surgeons. I absolutely loved being in theatre at any and every opportunity I got as a student. Over the next five years Dr Boikhutso is determined to build partnerships with other children’s hospitals, such as the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, the CURE Children’s Hospital of Uganda and Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in the US. There are also plans to focus on greening efforts with the aim of saving water and electricity at the state-of-the-art facility to ensure its environmental sustainability for generations to come.
F E A T U RW E :I TMS ERDOI C S ES
The Wits KORwiwara(P) rose was officially unveiled in the rose garden outside the William Cullen Library on Wits’ 100th birthday, 4 October 2022. This “Wits Rose” is a new rose variety specially cultivated by Ludwig’s Rose Farm to celebrate the University’s Centenary. The naming of the Wits KORwiwara(P) rose stems from Witwatersrand (‘wiwara’) while the (P) confirms the application for Plant Breeder’s Rights. It has a dense formation of firm, lightly fragrant white petals, with a cream centre that have the strength to withstand wind and rain. The bush maintains a neat growth pattern that is suitable for garden beds or containers. The variety falls into the Antico Moderno category that Ludwig’s came up with, meaning “modern antique”. The process from cross-pollinating to naming a rose takes a minimum of five years.
Image: Antony Kaminju
A modern antique
Nov ember 2022 41
Witsies with the edge
HIMKAAR SINGH 2022 Forbes Africa 30 under 30 list
Video: YouTube iCompost The Intelligent Composter
42 W I T S R E V I E W
Founder and CEO of The Compost Kitchen Himkaar Singh (BSc Eng 2014, GDE 2017) made it on to the coveted Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class list of 2022. He was acknowledged for his commitment to enhancing water security through his innovative way of improving soil quality through composting. The Compost Kitchen initially started as a collection and recycling business that converted recycled food waste into vermicompost, using thousands of earthworms. Customers were given the vermicompost back each month, which they could use in their vegetable garden to grow food again. The business has matured into using a technological innovation called iCompost which is a low-noise machine with a two-litre capacity that turns all types of food waste – including coffee grounds, tea
bags and eggshells – into a dry, natural and nutrient-rich modified soil. The 30-year-old Wits-trained civil engineer and entrepreneur shared that his social awareness had been germinating over several years. The company was recognised as one of the 300 World Best Practices on Sustainability and Innovation by the United Nations in February 2021 as well as having been selected as part of the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in South Africa’s Food Waste Innovation Challenge. Wits memory: “The only lecturer I have kept in contact with since graduating is Dr Precious Biyela. I remember in the first lecture I had with her, she encouraged questions and engagement, and remembered my name. I always sat in the front and asked a lot of questions – which she answered logically and patiently.”
WITSIES WITH THE EDGE
Professor Yahya Choonara is also the first South African pharmaceutical scientist to receive both the FIP Award and South Africa’s Department of Science and Innovation’s Top Intellectual Property Creator Award, one of the country’s highest awards for distinguished contributions to innovation.
PROFESSOR YAHYA CHOONARA 2022 Distinguished Pharmaceutical Science Award Professor Yahya Choonara (BPharm 2002, MPharm 2004, PhD 2009) was awarded the 2022 Distinguished Pharmaceutical Science Award from the Bureau of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) in recognition of his outstanding research and significant contributions to the pharmaceutical sciences globally. The award was presented at the 80th FIP World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences held in Seville, Spain. He is an advocate for pharmaceutical innovation and leads Wits’ Advanced Drug Delivery Platform Unit – an Africa first. The unit contributes to the design of novel targeted drug (and/or bioactive) delivery systems, nanomedicine, functional biomaterials and regenerative medicines. Drug delivery science is the method and process of formulating a newly discovered (or existing) drug (or bioactive) to achieve a better therapeutic effect in the human body, i.e. improved bioavailability. One of his inventions is the WaferMat – the world's fastest dissolving matrix. He is also the first South African pharmaceutical scientist to receive both the FIP Award and South Africa’s Department of Science and Innovation’s Top Intellectual Property Creator Award, one of the country’s highest awards for distinguished contributions to innovation.
Nov ember 2022 43
WITSIES WITH THE EDGE
Award DR BOITUMELO SEMETEMAKOKOTLELA
Image: elske photography
2022 NSTF Management Award
Dr Boitumelo SemeteMakokotlela (MM 2015) is the chief executive officer of the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority and received the Management Award at the 24th National Science and Technology Forum-South 32 Awards, known as South Africa’s “Science Oscars”, for her pivotal role in establishing
the Innovation Hub’s Biotech Incubator. She was instrumental in authorising COVID-19 diagnostic tests, vaccines and therapies to ensure the regulator was an enabler during the pandemic. She told WITSReview the award was “testament to the role the regulator has played in ensuring that vaccines that are safe, efficacious and of a high quality are available in South Africa. Being able to achieve this for the country has been such a humbling experience for me personally. I could not have done it alone.” She shared fond memories of her syndicate group discussions at Wits: “These discussions were pivotal in shaping some relationships I hold dear. The robust engagements and varying views have certainly prepared me to hold my own in deliberations, learn to listen and clearly articulate my views.” The influence of Professor Chris Malikane, an economics lecturer, on her career also received mention: “He would stimulate debates and enable everyone to share their views. As CEO, being able to create a platform for the team to share their views, listen and still be decisive while consultative is important.” • Before the pandemic it took three to four years to register a new medicine, but that has been cut down to four to 11 months. • WHO improved South Africa’s ranking to maturity level three (ML3) — the third of four levels in classification. Maturity level four (ML4) is the highest.
44 W I T S R E V I E W
WITSIES WITH THE EDGE
PROFESSOR ZEBLON VILAKAZI 2022 Fellow of the Royal Society
Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Zeblon Vilakazi (MSc 1994, PhD 1998) was appointed as a Fellow of the Royal Society (UK). “This is not just an honour for me, but also for Wits University, and all those who supported me. South Africa is home to a host of incredibly talented scientists, who punch above their weight in the global knowledge arena. While this Fellowship acknowledges some of my achievements, more importantly, it recognises the high calibre of science and scientists based in Africa.” He joins several Wits alumni to have earned this honour, such as Robert Broom, Phillip Tobias, Basil Schonland, Frank Nabarro, Nobel-Prize winner Aaron Klug and Bernie Fanaroff. Prof Vilakazi is a respected nuclear physicist who led South Africa’s entry into the CERN Large Hadron Collider project in his role as group leader of the UCT team that played a pivotal role in the development of the high-level trigger forward muon tracker at the ALICE experiment at CERN. His goal was understanding the state of nuclear matter under extreme temperatures in search of the quark gluon plasma.
ABOVE: SIR PETER BRUCE FRS, THE PHYSICAL SECRETAR Y OF THE ROYAL S O C I E T Y, PRESENTS THE SCROLL TO PROFESSOR VILAKAZI, WHILE PROFESSOR SIR ADRIAN SMITH PRS [I.E. PRESIDENT OF THE ROYAL SOCIET Y] LOOKS ON Image: The Royal Society
Nov ember 2022 45
WITSIES WITH THE EDGE
Awards PRIYANKA DAVECHAND 2022: ViceChancellor’s Student Leader of the Year / Most Outstanding Postgraduate Priyanka Davechand (BSc 2017, BSc Hons 2018), who is a PhD candidate in Geosciences, won two awards at the annual Student Leadership Awards. In 2017 she founded the Wits Bridge the Gap programme, which provides mentorship for geosciences students at Wits. The initiative has expanded to seven other universities in the country. She was acknowledged for her commitment over a sustained period of five years,
despite her increased workload, and as a champion of the University’s vision of cultivating female leadership in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. Her research looks at calcium isotopes on Karoo fossil tooth enamel to trace the diet of ancient animals such as dinosaurs. She is also featured in the SuperScientist cards series – developed to inspire a younger generation to see themselves in the faces of working scientists.
PROFESSOR BRIDGET CARRAGHER 2022 Innovation Award Professor Bridget Carragher (BSc 1978, BSc Hons 1979, MSc 1982) is a physicist specialising in electron microscopy. She is co-director of the Simons Electron Microscopy Center at the New York Structural Biology Center, which provides expertise and resources for understanding both molecular and cellular structures. She received the 2022 Innovation Award from the Biophysical Society, which recognises a member who advances the fundamental understanding of biological systems through the development of novel theory, models, concepts, techniques, or applications. She was recognised for her development of inkjet deposition and vitrification technology for cryo-EM. Recently she has also been appointed as the founding technical director of the Chan Zuckerberg Institute for Advanced Biological Imaging.
46 W I T S R E V I E W
Honorary doctorates During the April and July graduations in 2022, the following individuals were celebrated:
r Frene Ginwala received D an honorary doctor of laws in absentia for her instrumental role in both designing the vision for a new South Africa, and leading its key institutions.
•P rofessor Molefi Kete Asante, born Arthur Lee Smith, was conferred with a degree of DLitt honoris causa for “his contributions to African-centred scholarship and philosophy, as well as his influence on field development and intellectual thought from and on Africa and the African Diaspora.” Professor Asante “believes it is not enough to know, one must act to humanise the world”.
• Novelist, playwright, painter, musical composer and academic Professor Zakes Mda was awarded a degree of DLitt honoris causa for his cultural and literary contributions. He reminded the audience that: “It is important to the African child, both on the continent and the diaspora, to internalise a new mindset that we have not always been slaves. Our history does not begin with slavery and colonisation.”
• Respected chartered accountant Suresh Kana (MCom 1987) was awarded an honorary doctorate in commerce. He is an executive and non-executive director of companies, a contributor to the King Reports on Corporate Governance in South Africa and the associated King Codes. He currently serves as chairman and non-executive director of several listed companies as well as being chairman of the audit committee of the United Nations World Food Programme, based in Rome, overseeing the efficiency of its global operations.
• J ustice Bakone Moloto was awarded anhonorary doctor of laws in recognition of a life devoted to the pursuit of justice. He served in the Land Claims Court, which deals with claims by people who were dispossessed during apartheid. Justice Moloto served as a judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia – the only South African to have done so.
•C harles David Nupen was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree for his role in the development of South Africa’s system of dispute resolution both as a practicing attorney and through the creation of key dispute resolution institutions. He established the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration. Nupen has dedicated his working life to the resolution of conflict.
• J ustice Navi Pillay was awarded an honorary doctor of laws in recognition of her contributions in law, justice, and human rights. She has served in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the International Criminal Court, and as the 5th United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. She played a critical role in developing jurisprudence on freedom of speech and hate propaganda, as well as on rape and genocide.
SEE MORE WITSIE HONOURS HTTPS://WWW.WITS.AC.ZA/NEWS/SOURCES/ALUMNI-NEWS/
Nov ember 2022 47
(Tune: “Tramp, Tramp, the Boys are Marching!”)
Through the Courts our voices ring, Let’s defend the blasted thing. Memorandum of intention to defend, – AND A PLEA! Though they beat us in the end, O, our costs we will extend, For the lawyers of Wit. ‘Varsity are we. – snippet from the SRC faculty songbook, 1964
THROUGHOUT ITS LONG HISTORY, THE UNIVERSITY HAS HAD A PROUD RECORD OF PROGRESSIVE THOUGHT AND PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT. A CONSIDERABLE NUMBER OF ALUMNI FROM WITS’ FACULTY OF LAW CONTINUE THIS PROUD LEGACY OF STANDING UP FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE AND DEMOCRACY.
law 48 W I T S R E V I E W
F E AT U R E : L AW
Holding on to the outrage In 1979, Lady Kentridge cofounded the Legal Resources Centre – the country’s first public interest law firm, which won precedent-setting cases that advanced human rights. Today it continues to challenge structures that aggravate inequality gaps.
ext year, the Wits Law Clinic celebrates its 50th anniversary. In the absence of an adequate state legal aid system, the clinic started as a small advice office, set up by Felicia, Lady Kentridge (LLB 1953) in 1973. This was the first project of its kind in the country, with student volunteers providing free legal services to those most in need. The clinic bridged the gap between the academic and practical worlds of law and revolutionised the training of legal practitioners. In 1979, Lady Kentridge also co-founded the Legal Resources Centre – the country’s first public interest law firm, which won precedent-setting cases that advanced human rights. Today it continues to challenge structures that aggravate inequality gaps. In a 2006 interview with the LRC Oral History Project, she recalled being told: “You must never lose your outrage.” It is advice she held onto throughout her life and used as a “motivating force” against injustice. The clinic has grown substantially over the years and now comprises six units: Family, Gender and Child Unit; General Unit; Labour Unit; Property Unit; Criminal Law and Delict Unit; and Refugee Unit. In 2020, a plaque was unveiled for the naming of the annexe which houses the clinic, in Lady Kentridge’s honour.
Video: YouTube Felicia Kentridge Annexe Plaque Unveiling
Nov ember 2022 49
F E AT U R E : L AW
50 W I T S R E V I E W
SECTION27 USES A THREE-PRONGED S TRATEG Y OF RESEARCH, ADVOC ACY AND LITIGATION TO ADVANCE THE RIGHT OF EVERY CHILD IN SOUTH AFRIC A TO BASIC EDUC ATION
SECTION27 was established in May 2010 as a public interest law centre seeking to develop and use the law to protect and advance human rights. Its origins stem from the successful and pioneering work of the AIDS Law Project, located at the University’s Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS). WITSReview reached out to alumni currently affiliated with the organisation. BY JACQUELINE STEENEVELDT
Nov ember 2022 51
Image: Chris Collingridge
F E AT U R E : L AW
52 W I T S R E V I E W
FARANAAZ VERIAVA (BA 1992, LLB 1996)
HEAD OF EDUC ATION RIGHTS PROGRAMME
F E AT U R E : L AW
In addition to her Wits qualifications, Faranaaz completed her master and doctor of laws at the University of Pretoria and is also a part-time lecturer in its law faculty. She leads a team of committed attorneys and researchers, developing legal strategy in education cases and campaigns of SECTION27. “I also believe it’s very important to create a scholarship in our area of speciality so as much as possible I write for both scholarly and popular publications. I also mentor the members of my team to do the same,” she says. Could you give a summary of your career path and how you came to be involved with SECTION27? My career path has always been directed towards being a public interest lawyer. Early in my career I worked as a legal officer at the South African Human Rights Commission. I then joined the Johannesburg Bar to complete my legal training as an advocate. After a short stint practising at the Bar, I joined CALS at Wits where I was able to combine and develop my skills both as a public interest lawyer and as an academic. At CALS, I, together with others, founded the Education Rights Project where I first began building cases, writing about and advocating for the right to basic education for the poorest learners. CALS was then also home to the AIDS Law Project (ALP) which would later move to Braamfontein and become SECTION27. The legal mobilisation campaign led by the ALP together with the Treatment Action Campaign demanding antiretrovirals to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV was very inspiring to me as to the form of public interest law I wanted to be engaged in. After CALS I took a few years off from my professional career to be with my children, who were very small. I then joined SECTION27 in 2014 and have never looked back. I have been involved in some of the most impactful public interest law cases over the last eight years. I joined the organisation to work on the Limpopo textbook litigation and then the Michael Komape case when the five-year-old drowned in a pit toilet at his school. More recently, I have built and led cases such as the school nutrition case during COVID-19 as well as the recent Constitutional Court case where SECTION27 represented BLINDSA in seeking copyright exemptions for persons with visual disabilities. Why did you choose law? From my earliest memories, I was surrounded by the activism of my family against apartheid. Already as a pre-schooler, I had attended the political trial of my uncle, a member of the Black Consciousness
Movement. Later, my father [Dr Yosuf Veriava (MBBCh 1968)] was one of the Wits doctors who brought a legal challenge against the South African Medical and Dental Council for their failure to sanction the unethical conduct of the prison doctors who were responsible for but who failed to care for Steve Biko when he was tortured to death in detention. The late Priscilla Jana, who was a human rights lawyer representing many of the political activists fighting against apartheid, was also a very close friend and comrade of my father. So, I was always surrounded by examples of how the law, an instrument of oppression, could also be creatively bent to serve as an instrument of change. These experiences were obviously formative in my own career path. If there was an instant fix in one area in which you work, what would that be? An inferior education for the majority of South Africans was one of the key pillars of apartheid. We need to fix this by prioritising a quality basic education for all, something we have failed to do thus far. A decent education is an essential step to equality. What values keep you going? I subscribe to the values of our Constitution, especially substantive equality, dignity and socioeconomic equality for all. I would also describe myself as an intersectional feminist. What do you hope for South Africa? That we achieve socioeconomic equality and that every person can live a dignified life. Where we are now is heart-breaking. Could you share a memory or an influential lecturer during your time at Wits? There are way too many Wits memories and more than one influential lecturer. What I can say is that I found growing up as a young girl in a closed, Indian community very constraining. Being a Witsie gave me the freedom to become the person I wanted to be and my time at CALS made me the lawyer I wanted to be.
Nov ember 2022 53
F E AT U R E : L AW
MOTHEO BRODIE (LLB 2018)
LEGAL RESEARCH AND ADVOCACY OFFICER, EDUC ATION RIGHTS PROGRAMME
Motheo is “an activist at heart”, who served as chairperson of the Wits Law Students Council and deputy SRC president during the height of the Fees Must Fall protests in 2015. He says he was drawn to study law as “it’s one of the most useful tools in the struggle for social justice” and has a desire to contribute to “the realisation of a just society and the South African Constitution’s transformative project”. In addition to his LLB degree, he completed the Human Rights Advocacy and Litigation course through the Nelson Mandela Institute at Wits. His role at SECTION27 entails legal research, drafting and presenting submissions on proposed policy and legislation as well as developing and coordinating advocacy and campaign strategies. If there was an instant fix in one area in which you work, what would that be? The eradication of unlawful pit toilets in Limpopo schools is a big part of our work. I believe that public representatives and government officials with the political will and an understanding of their obligations would go a long way in resolving the ongoing school sanitation crisis. What values keep you going? What do you hope for South Africa? I believe that we all have a duty to be active citizens in building a South Africa characterised by equality
54 W I T S R E V I E W
and social justice, irrespective of which space we occupy. Could you share a memory or an influential lecturer during your time at Wits? One of my favourite lecturers during my time at Wits was Professor James Grant. I did criminal law in 2014, which also happened to be the year of the Oscar Pistorius trial. Even though I did not pursue criminal law, I remember being very intrigued by the field and Professor Grant's lectures were always very lively with rigorous debates during the lectures.
F E AT U R E : L AW
Zeenat joined SECTION27 in 2021, focusing on sexual violence in schools, migrant pupils, matters relating to infrastructure, learning materials, pupil dropouts and pregnancy. As an attorney, she has extensive experience in advocacy and litigation from working at the LRC and CALS. “I litigated in various courts throughout the country including the highest appellate courts (the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court,” she says. She has also worked as a legal researcher to three Constitutional Court judges. She was the inaugural Stephen Ellmann Judicial Fellow at New York Law School in 2021 and the Cameron Schrier Fellow at the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies at Wits in 2020/21.
If there was an instant fix in one area in which you work, what would that be? To end the scourge of gender-based violence. What values keep you going? What do you hope for South Africa? A commitment to justice. My hope is that we reach a state of political stability where leaders start governing with integrity, compassion and humility. We require leaders who act in the interests of its people. I hope that we get to see a non-racial, non-sexist and economically equal society.
ZEENAT SUJEE ( L L B 2 0 0 7, P D I P L A W 2015, LLM 2019)
A T T O R N E Y, EDUC ATION RIGHTS PROGRAMME
Could you share a memory or an influential lecturer during your time at Wits? The lecturer who spurred my interest in human rights law was Abeda Bhamjee (BA 1996, LLB 1998, LLM 2000), a lawyer and lecturer at the Wits Law Clinic. I worked under her supervision and she provided me with the guidance and exposure to High Court applications as well as Refugee Appeal Board hearings. Her passion and determination to ensure justice for all clients that filled the clinic on Monday afternoons, was inspirational. She taught with patience and provided the practical and theoretical guidance that law students require.
Nov ember 2022 55
MILA HARDING (BA 2019, LLB 2021, PGDIPL AW 2022)
FORMER LEGAL RESEARCHER
Mila says she “developed a keen interest in law, economics and politics from quite an early age” and was fascinated by the role law arguably plays in upholding and potentially dismantling injustice. “Choosing to study law at Wits was a natural choice.” In the penultimate year of her LLB, she attended a talk about the Komape delictual litigation at Wits and she was encouraged to apply for an internship at SECTION27. Mila was awarded the 2022 Pius Langa Memorial Fellowship by the Constitutional Court Trust to study for an LLM at University College London and resigned from SECTION27 in August. What did your role at SECTION27 entail? My role at SECTION27 entailed researching different areas of national and comparative law for the purpose of challenging rights violations in the basic education system in South Africa. I also did more practical work such as assisting with the writing of draft affidavits and heads of argument for many of our cases. Further, I worked on a lot of advocacy focused on promoting the right to basic education, which included writing opinion pieces for news outlets and participating in media interviews. It was always incredibly fulfilling and interesting work. What would be your instant fix? The areas that I worked on at SECTION27 were, for the most part, systemic issues – there are no truly quick fixes. However, a common theme that emerged from working at SECTION27 is that in several areas there seems to be a lack of true political will to address these systemic issues as a matter of urgency. I suppose, therefore, if I was able to instantly fix one thing then it would be to instil a sense of urgency in the minds of those who have
56 W I T S R E V I E W
the power to ensure the rights of people in South Africa are realised. What values keep you going? What do you hope for South Africa? I would define my strongest values as community, equality and justice. My hope for South Africa is that it will someday be able to live up substantively to its constitutional vision. At the current political and economic moment this may seem to be a monumental task, but I believe it is still possible to achieve. Could you share a memory or an influential lecturer during your time at Wits? My most influential lecturer during my time at Wits was Dr Emile Zitzke, who taught me a course on delict and later was my supervisor for my final year research essay. Dr Zitzke inspired me to think of the law in an analytically richer and more optimistic way. He also helped me develop academic and professional confidence by encouraging me to publish my research essay and apply to international master’s programmes.
F E AT U R E : L AW
Gallo/Getty Images, Pulitzer Center
Tireless fight for access to healthcare
uman rights lawyer, social justice activist and founder of the Health Justice Initiative (HJI) Fatima Hassan (BA 1993, LLB 1995) was awarded the 2022 Calgary Peace Prize for her contribution to justice in the international struggle against global health inequality in May this year. The Calgary Peace Prize recognises outstanding individuals from the global community who work towards making the world a more just, safer and less violent place. Hassan, who also has an LLM from Duke University, was executive director of the Open Society Foundation of South Africa from mid-2013 to mid-2019. She has dedicated her professional life to defending and promoting human rights, especially in the field of HIV/AIDS, where she worked for the AIDS Law Project. She also acted for the Treatment Action Campaign in many of its legal cases. Recently she has turned her attention towards injustice associated with the COVID-19 pandemic
and vaccine hoarding. She is the recipient of several fellowships and awards, including the 2022 Calgary Peace Prize for her contribution Franklin Thomas SA to justice in the internaConstitutional Court tional struggle against Fellowship, and the Tom global health inequality and Andi Bernstein Distinguished Human Rights Fellowship at Yale University’s School of Law. Most recently the HJI has raised red flags over how people access medication under the proposed National Health Insurance Bill. “The entire shift of our medicine selection, procurement and reimbursement system to NHI reimbursement has not been adequately thought through, potentially posing a great risk for the future of medicine selection and access in the country for all people.” Nov ember 2022 57
International Witsies H E ATHER DUGMOR E F O L LO WS TH REE A L U MNI ON TH E I R D I V ERS E C A REER JO U RNEYS
Shein on you Ozzie unicorn
The "dumbest guy at the table" founded Australia’s first unicorn. This is the incredible journey of David Shein (BCom 1983, BAcc 1985) 58 W I T S R E V I E W
Nov ember 2022 59
WITSIES AROUND THE WORLD
itting in his office in Double Bay, Sydney, close to the CBD, David Shein points to the book he published last year, The Dumbest Guy at the Table (ECHO, 2021), and says, “Don’t expect to find rocket science there. I always say that if you put me at any table, I can guarantee that I will have the lowest IQ of anyone sitting there.” Self-deprecating? False modesty? “Neither,” he smiles. “What I have going for me is that while I’m definitely not the smartest person in the room, I’m very confident when it comes to bringing the smartest people together; people who are much smarter than me; and I’m not threatened by them. You simply cannot build a great company on your own. You have to surround yourself with an amazing team that has the ability and attitude to differentiate your company from the competition.” And that’s how he founded Com Tech Communications in 1987 at the age of 26. In 2000 it achieved an enterprise value of over A$1billion, making it Australia’s first “unicorn”. In business, a unicorn is a privately held startup with a $1billion valuation or more before being listed on the stock market. “This is clearly the lucky country,” he says. When David turned 60 in 2020, which was 20 years after he sold Com Tech, he decided to write a book about his incredible journey. “I often work with companies that are developing groundbreaking technology, but they just don’t get the basics right – and that is to look after your customers, staff and business partners. How you treat these three constituents will be the difference between building a good company, a great company, an irrelevant company or one that simply disappears.” David left South Africa for Australia in 1986 with his wife, Colleen, and eight-monthold baby Jarred. “I arrived in Australia on Saturday 8 November and started work on Monday 10 November. Having left Price Waterhouse (which wasn’t yet PwC) in South Africa as a junior clerk, when I got a job in a new country as national sales manager of a distribution company selling business software, I thought I had hit the jackpot.” He adds that having a Wits degree helped in getting a job, and so quickly. “Wits has always been recognised for the quality of its education and South Africans are recognised for their outstanding work ethic.” 60 W I T S R E V I E W
As it transpired, David learnt how not to do things at that company – he was paid badly, had no job satisfaction and was not allowed any input into how the company could be better run. It led him to start his own company nine months later. “That bad experience turned out to be the luckiest break of my life and I established Com Tech Communications in June 1987. PCs were already becoming pervasive in the work environment and I was fortunate to get into local area networking just as it was about to take off. Com Tech was all about taking customers from an old computer environment to a new computer environment, as painlessly as possible.” He put together a small team and seized the opportunity. “I always say that to succeed you need to be as focused as a one-eyed dog in a meat factory.” They became the distributor for the industry standard, global software and services company Novell. “Once that happened, the whole world wanted us to represent their products in Australia. By delivering exceptional customer service, we quickly secured 70% of the networking market in Australia, which was growing at 40% a year.” In 2000 Com Tech was sold to Dimension Data, shortly before the dot-com crash. “I could write a book on the lucky breaks I’ve had,” David quips. He says he would not have been able to achieve anything near what he did without his wife’s support. “We have three sons, and the amount of time and effort that Colleen put into raising our boys was huge.” In his book David explains how he never dreamed he would achieve such financial success. “I was 41 when we sold Com Tech, and, with hindsight, I have definitely had some regret about throwing in the towel so early. At 62 you realise how young 41 really is – I definitely had another start-up left in me. “At the same time, it was a great outcome for me, my family and business partners. And it gave me more time for myself. I do triathlon and keep fit, which I didn’t do when I was running Com Tech and which is why I was pretty burnt out at 41.” He now swims, cycles and runs several times a week. “I live in a great area called Point Piper and after exercising I often stop off at my favourite coffee shop called Indigo in Double Bay. It’s in a quaint little street called Transvaal Avenue, with lots of heritage houses. My
In 2000, Com Tech, a company founded by David, achieved an enterprise value of over A$1 billion, making it Australia’s first ‘unicorn’.
WITSIES AROUND THE WORLD
standard order is poached eggs with avocado and salmon.” But when he feels like peri-peri chicken, it’s straight to Nando’s, which opened in Australia in 1990. “It’s the best chicken in the world,” he says. Nando’s founder Witsie Robbie Brozin (BCom 1984) has been his best friend since school. They met in 1975 at King David Linksfield. “What I love about Robbie is if you meet him today, despite his phenomenal success he’s still the same guy who started out with one chicken shop in Rosettenville.” The same has often been said of David, who says he resonates with people who are humble. “If you’re full of yourself just because you have money, something is wrong. At the end of the day, we all put our pants on one leg at a time.” David and Robbie both went to the army after matric for compulsory national service. “It knocked the crap out of me,” he says. “I certainly wasn’t mature enough to go to university straight after school. I’m not proud of what national service stood for and I would never want my sons to go to war, but what I got from the army is learning that you have to be able to speak everybody’s cultural language.” After the army, David and Robbie went to Wits to do a BCom. They both loved selling and as students they would get “reject” suits with small defects from David’s father’s clothing factory and sell them to the part-time accounting students who needed suits for work. “My late Dad, Martin, was an accountant by profession. At three years old, while most kids were going to become firemen or policemen, I was instructed by my Dad to say that I was going to be an accountant. It was the highlight of my Dad’s life when I became the third son to become an accountant. I’m the youngest of the three brothers; the other two are Jon (BCom 1980, BAcc 1983) and Steven (BCom 1975,CU 1977).” Their Mom, Betty, was a piano teacher and he says one of the biggest mistakes of his life was not learning to play the piano. At Wits, apart from selling suits and socialising between lectures in what was then Senate House, he put his head
into his books “and worked my butt off ”. “When I started at Wits one of the lecturers said ‘look to the left and look to the right and only one of you will pass the board exam’. I decided that person was going to be me and I passed my board exam on the first attempt in 1985.” Wits at the time was politically very hot. “Standing against the government like several of my friends did, including Justice Norman Manoim (BA 1980, LLB 1983) and Dr Lloyd Vogelman (BA 1981, BA Hons 1982, MA 1987), came at great personal risk. Norman had his house fire bombed and students were getting incarcerated in solitary confinement. I have huge respect for the courage of people who stood up for what they believed in, despite the risk.” After graduating and starting work, he decided he did not want to live in South Africa as it was, and made the journey to Australia with his young family. Both of his brothers also emigrated and became partners in Com Tech. “When we eventually brought in Macquarie Bank as a private equity partner, the Mac Bank board representative, Michael Traill, affectionately referred to us as Doom, Gloom and Boom,” he smiles. “Steve was Doom. He predicted the global financial crash 25 years before it happened. He was a real CFO, and truly safeguarded the assets of the company. “Jon was Boom. He only ever saw a positive outcome. I was Gloom – even when things were going brilliantly, I was always worrying about something.” Today, David runs a venture capital fund called OIF Ventures that invests in start-ups. “We have about 20 opportunities presented to us every week and we invest in five a year. I’m proud to say we’ve helped empower quite a few founders to realise their dreams.” It’s mid-afternoon in Sydney by the time the interview comes to a close. David gets up from his desk and says he thinks he’ll go for a run because it’s a beautiful day. He is trying hard not to tie himself to OIF 24/7, as is his nature. “Time passes quickly and I would also like to do more travelling while I can,” he says.
BELOW: DAVID SHEIN'S BOOK, THE DUMBES T GUY AT THE TA B L E , B E L OW & L E F T: DAVID SWIMS, CYCLES AND RUNS SEVERAL TIMES A WEEK
Nov ember 2022 61
WITSIES AROUND THE WORLD
Canberra supersleuth As the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security in the Australian government from 2010 to 2015, Dr Vivienne Thom (BSc 1979, BSc Hons 1980, PhD 1985) unearthed a litany of wrongdoing.
’d love to do a job where people are pleased to see me,” is the line that sums up Vivienne’s years as chief inquisitor in Canberra, where she has lived since 1985. She has a nose for corruption and misconduct, and has investigated everything from financial fraud to sexual harassment by high profile public figures. She also leads the panel that will oversee responses by the Australian Defence Force to the findings of an inquiry into alleged misconduct by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan. “The cases are diverse, and some have found their way into the media, but most don’t and I’m not at liberty to talk about them,” she says. “The crux of it is that when people commit acts of wrongdoing, the public needs to have faith in the mechanisms for investigating and dealing with them.” Vivienne was appointed as the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security in 2010 with oversight of six agencies in the Australian Intelligence Community.
62 W I T S R E V I E W
She and her husband Dr Norman Blom (BSc Hons 1978, PhD 1985) met at Wits and married in 1982. They moved to Canberra in 1985 after completing their chemistry PhDs at Wits. Both were awarded Council for Scientific and Industrial Research bursaries to do postdoctoral research overseas and were offered positions at the Australian National University in Canberra. It may seem surprising that a scientist would be appointed as head of intelligence agencies. It shouldn’t, says Vivienne: “The skills developed in postgraduate research are very similar to those used in investigations and reviews. Experience in scientific reasoning is an excellent basis for being able to decide whether evidence is relevant and sufficient to establish proof of conduct. You also need to be able to quickly grasp quite complex subject matter and assess voluminous documentary evidence. At the end of the process you have to synthesise the information to produce a clear and credible report – not unlike a PhD thesis or scientific publication.”
“The failure of ethics, integrity and transparency is another widespread issue, and it’s worldwide... People follow what their leaders do and if you don’t have ethical leadership, other people think they will get away with things too.” DR VIVIENNE THOM
WITSIES AROUND THE WORLD
Nov ember 2022 63
WITSIES AROUND THE WORLD
One characteristic she has in abundance is curiosity. “I keep asking questions until I’m satisfied I know and understand the whole story,” she explains. “One skill that I had to learn was to listen! My natural tendency is to speak quickly, interrupt others and fill any silences. Perhaps the most important skill when interviewing is to be able to wait patiently through sometimes uncomfortable pauses for more disclosures.” Vivienne says a major governance issue in all organisations is that record-keeping has generally declined. “Everything used to be recorded on paper and filed, but these days people often forget to file records from their emails, and when you ask for the email record, you get their entire email accounts.” The failure of ethics, integrity and transparency is another widespread issue, and it’s worldwide, she adds. “If you look at Boris Johnson, it’s the failure of ethics, integrity and transparency rather than policy failures that bring down governments, and it’s so much more public these days with Facebook and Twitter. Things get around and it has a cascade effect. People follow what their leaders do and if you don’t have ethical leadership, other people think they will get away with things too.” But not under her watch. She has occupied a range of senior posts in her brilliant public service career in Canberra, which provided a sound legal background and a good understanding of government accountability and oversight. After the Australian National University, Vivienne and Norman took up posts in Canberra as patent examiners in the public service where Vivienne qualified as a patent attorney. She subsequently became Commissioner of 64 W I T S R E V I E W
Patents at IP Australia (1999 to 2002) during what she describes as a time of great change. “Biotechnology and gene patents, such as those for the technology used to screen for breast cancer, or terminator genes in seeds were just taking off and were very controversial. Suddenly intellectual property policy had ethical and human rights dimensions, which made the work extremely interesting. Patents for business methods and software were also being filed including, for example, Amazon’s one-click ordering system in 1999. The internet was taking off and no one really understood how the existing patent system should be applied in this new paradigm.” Prior to her appointment as Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Vivienne did a stint as CEO of the Royal Australian Mint. “My strategy was to grab every opportunity to try something different and learn new skills. It was a fun, interesting and varied job. I learnt a lot about Australian culture and history and the staff were wonderful, but the position did not satisfy me intellectually.” Vivienne officially retired from her Inspector-General post in 2015 but continues to consult on high profile intelligence and security cases. Recent cases include investigating allegations of misconduct by a former high court judge and a government cabinet minister. “It’s good to be able to choose which cases I take on now as it gives me a bit more time to see our daughters and grandchild, do trail running, and travel with my husband.” Trail running is something she took up at age 49, and she is a member of a running club in Canberra. “At school I was told I was no good at sport and from then on I never did any exercise whatsoever at school or at Wits,” Vivienne
says. “At 49 a friend encouraged me to see what the running club was all about, and I thought ‘now or never’. I joined the club, obviously totally unfit at first, but I built up to 10km and now I frequently run 21km half marathons and have completed two 41km Canberra marathons. I’ve run in Canada, New Zealand and all over Australia.” Vivienne does 15km trail runs with the club most Saturdays. There are plenty of green spaces and hills in Canberra and Lake Burley Griffin is in the middle of the city. At the end of it they gather at coffee shops. “I’m not a fast runner but it’s really enjoyable and we can run all year round here. A lot of people run and cycle in Canberra and there is a ski field two hours away in the Snowy Mountains, and Bateman’s Bay beach two hours away.” Vivienne and Norman live in the southern part of Canberra, in a suburb called Yarralumla. They can see Parliament House from their home, which is appropriate for the supersleuth. “Canberra is Australia’s federal capital but it is pretty much a large country town – I know 300 000 of the 400 000 people here,” she laughs, adding that a lot of the city’s residents work for government and its support services. “It’s a pleasant, easy city to live in. Everything is a ten-minute drive away, and there is quite a bit of wildlife around. We often see large, noisy, colourful parrots and possums in our garden and snakes and kangaroos while trail running.” Norman, now retired, is a keen photographer, and the two travel extensively. Their last trip to South Africa was
pre-COVID when they explored wildlife areas in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. Vivienne visited Wits a few years back and fondly recalls her time as a student here. She describes “the wonderful camaraderie” in the chemistry department, which was a refuge from the general tension and protests on campus. “I started at Wits in 1976, that watershed year when everything changed. It was a momentous thing for a young girl as it awakened in me an awareness of what was happening in our country.” Braamfontein was home for her during the early 1980s in her postgraduate years. Several chemistry postgrads lived in flats here, conveniently close to campus where they spent a good deal of time together in the labs doing chemistry. “Braamfontein was nothing like it is today. It was a bit shabby, with old blocks of flats, a couple of restaurants, Pop’s Cafe and the Dev Hotel, but most of our socialising took place in the postgraduate club on campus where they had a bar on Friday nights and a movie on Sunday nights.” A major influence on her life was Professor Rob Hancock (DSc 1991). “I was his first PhD and he was keen on publications, so we did good work together and it was really interesting research in inorganic chemistry.” She says she has Prof Hancock to thank for the head start this gave her in her career. A career for which in 2016 Vivienne was made a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to public administration and mentoring women in executive positions.
FA R L E F T: K I NG PARROTS IN VIVIENNE'S GARDEN, VIVIENNE AND HER HUSBAND NORMAN NEXT TO LOCH LOMOND, AND AT THE END OF THE WEST HIGHLAND WAY, V I V I E N N E O N A CANBERRA TRAIL MIDDLE: POS TGRADUATE CHEMISTRY STUDENTS 19 81, R I G H T: GRADUATION 1979, BELOW: VIVIENNE AND GRANDSON MARCUS
Nov ember 2022 65
In search of European roots
nna first learnt to speak English at primary school. “Coming from such a strong Italian and French immigrant background, I always felt different until I got to Wits in 1982. Suddenly, this interesting mix of people opened up to me. It was an incredible sense of freedom and discovery,” she says. “I loved campus, I loved so much about being at Wits, including the freedom of expression and the simple pleasures, like hanging out on the lawns and eating slap chips from the canteen.” After graduating with her BCom she joined Standard Bank, where she established the first organisational development consulting unit, focused on teambuilding, leadership development and change management.
66 W I T S R E V I E W
Her next career move was to Europe. “A position came up with Mastercard in Paris and I felt the urge to seek out my European roots. I was based in Paris for three-and-a-half years before being transferred to Brussels. Belgium is the European headquarters for Mastercard.” In Paris she lived in the 6th arrondissement, not far from the Eiffel Tower. “It was the first time I had lived alone and it was wonderful. I was in awe of Paris; I was fascinated by the architecture and the beauty of the buildings; it was like living in an open-air museum. I loved wandering the streets and being able to walk everywhere safely. Once again, I felt an incredible sense of freedom.” The irony of her Mastercard job was that it took her away from her goal of being in Europe. It required travelling
“I loved campus, I loved so much about being at Wits, including the freedom of expression and the simple pleasures, like hanging out on the lawns and eating slap chips from the canteen.” ANNA ZANGHI
WITSIES AROUND THE WORLD
As a little girl in Johannesburg, Anna Zanghi (BCom 1985, MBA 1994) spoke French and Italian at home, and always felt the need to seek out her origins.
to the Middle East, Africa and the US, and it was only when she moved to Brussels that she started settling in Europe. She initially stayed in an apartment in central Brussels, but when she met and married her Anglo-Belgian husband, a project manager, this all changed. “After we had our two children, the South African part of me felt we needed a garden,” she says. Homes in Brussels with a garden were too pricey, so they looked further afield. Mastercard’s offices are in the town of Waterloo, south of Brussels, the site of the final defeat of Emperor Napoleon I in 1815. “This meant we could look in the country areas nearby, and we found our home in a little village called Lasne. We live in a 300-year-old farmhouse with thick, thick walls. Most of
the houses are painted white with little blue or green shutters, and many of the streets have cobbled stones.” Negotiating deep snow, digging out their cars and changing tyres every season was initially challenging for Anna, but for the past couple of winters they have had only a bit of powder snow, and they haven’t worn their snow boots in years. “There has been a dramatic shift in the weather and we associate it with climate change. The summers are a lot warmer; some of the farmers in our region have started farming grapes whereas previously this would have been unheard of,” says Anna. She does Nordic walking to explore the farming areas, forests and nature trails. This part of her life is a far cry from the fintech disruption she has been part of over the past decade, requiring a fleet
Nov ember 2022 67
WITSIES AROUND THE WORLD
of new solutions. “At Mastercard it was amazing to be part of the huge shift that occurred from about 2013 with fintech and the digital disruption transforming banking from a slow, traditional sector to one of the fastest-paced industries to be in.” Anna was asked to set up Mastercard’s first global team to focus on youth product development: “There was this sudden awareness that millennials were all digital natives, born with technology, and this required co-creating products and solutions with them to make sure it spoke to the experience they needed and wanted,” she explains. “Banks were not structured for this at the time and we needed to work with lawyers and digital product developers and a whole range of stakeholders. We came up with products for youth, such as prepaid cards for school kids to pay for their lunch, and cards for teenagers’ pocket money.” Anna stayed with Mastercard until 2019, when she felt a life change was necessary. “I loved my time there but the pace at which we were working was frenetic. The final straw was when my daughter chose burnout for one of her high school projects and I asked why she chose this topic. Her reply was that I ticked the boxes of many of the symptoms, and it was true!” It was a big “aha” moment for her and she decided it was time to start her own business focusing on wellbeing programmes for the work environment and personal mental health. She now practises as an individual coach and works a lot with women at the crossroads – aged 45 years and up who, for a variety of reasons, are rethinking what comes next. She is also a partner in a business called Futur-o, “where our whole focus is on fitness to lead. The whole idea is that today’s leaders must have the mental fitness and adaptive capacity to deal with the increasing complexity and pace of change, while also looking after their teams’ wellbeing. We look at all sorts of factors, including lifestyle and sleep. Leaders need to be acutely aware of their 68 W I T S R E V I E W
own wellness and work on their inner development, as you are no good to anyone if you burn out.” The mix of working remotely and face to face has been part of Anna’s world for years, long before COVID. “We started using Skype for business years ago, to talk to Mastercard teams worldwide.” Working for herself has given her more free time, and since the pandemicd she has been spending time in France. “We love going to Omaha beach in Normandy – the landing beach for troops in World War II, with its fascinating history,” she says. The Allied invasion of Normandy on 6 June 1944, known as D-Day, was the largest seaborne invasion in history. “We’ll be exploring more of France, Italy and other parts of Europe. We are shifting into a different phase of life now as our children are out of school and pursuing university studies and careers. It’s an exciting time because 27 years since I moved to Paris I finally have the opportunity to properly explore my roots.”
TOP:SIGNBOARD MARKING WHERE LASNE ENDS ABOVE:COBBLED S TONE ROADS AND PATHS IN L ASNE BELOW: ANNA'S 300-YEAROLD FARMHOUSE IN L ASNE
consider the WITSReview to be a credible source of information about Wits
believe the WITSReview strengthens their connection to Wits
typically keep an issue of the magazine for more than a month
66% read most or all of the magazine on average
consider the WITSReview’s content to be good/excellent
spend more than an hour reading the magazine/ 30% spend up to an hour reading it
say the WITSReview increases the likelihood they will give back to Wits
consider the WITSReview’s design and layout to be good/excellent
1 565 respondents Nov ember 2022 69
Books “Writing the catalogue was truly one of the most enriching and rewarding experiences I have ever had. During it, my admiration for William’s genius only increased—the sheer profusion, creativity, and quality of his work across such a range of genres and media…I’m going to miss it now that it’s over.” STEPHEN CLINGMAN
WILLIAM KENTRIDGE: LIBERATING VISION AND SIX MEDITATIONS H A R D BACK C ATA LO G U E BY STEPHEN CLINGMAN ROYAL AC ADEMY OF AR T S, 2022
Professor Stephen Clingman (BA 1977, BA Hons 1978), distinguished professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, offers a brilliant exposition of William Kentridge’s work in this catalogue which accompanies the major autumn 2022 exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. According to the publisher, the catalogue “undertakes a series of enquiries, of walks around the artist and his practice, through the various layers and linkages, crossings and connections of his art…he considers Kentridge’s themes, explores them and moves by association to others. Along the way, overlaps, thought-collages, allusions and assemblages come together to create a connective, dimensional way of thinking inspired by Kentridge’s own habits of creation.” Clingman has taught at the University of Massachusetts since 1989, and was chair of the English 70 W I T S R E V I E W
Department from 1994 until 2000. His research and teaching fields include South African literature and politics, postcolonial fiction, transnational fiction, and twentieth-century and contemporary British fiction. He is also the award-winning author of Afrikaner Revolutionary: Bram Fischer (2013, Jacana). The catalogue is an apt collaboration, despite Clingman’s reservations, which he has admitted to WITSReview: “I have never worked as an art historian or critic, and realised at a certain point that I had to approach the project in my own way and from my own point of view.” The volume is punctuated by Clingman’s six meditations on the exhibition’s themes: Drawn through Time; The Enigmas of Soho; Shadows of the Past, Shadows of the Present; Dualities, or How I Did Not Become; Timespaces, or Two Dancers; and Coda: Vanishings.
WOMEN ARTISTS IN EXPRESSIONISM: FROM EMPIRE TO EMANCIPATION BY SHULAMITH BEHR PRINCETON UNIVERSIT Y PRESS, 2022
Dr Shulamith Behr, née Ruch, (BAFA 1968, BA Hons 1972) is honorary research fellow at the Courtauld Institute of Art at the University of London. During her time at Wits, in the late 1960s, she received the Henri Lidchi Prize for top undergraduate student in History of Art and she lectured at Wits for seven years at the time when Professor Heather Martienssen was head of the department. She is a specialist in the study of German Expressionism and admits to having had a long “fascination with materials and print production in the works of the twentieth century”. Her previous publications encompass the contribution of women artists to German and Swedish modernism, starting with her Women Expressionists (Phaidon, 1988) to essays for catalogues of the Gabriele Münter (1992-93) and Sigrid Hjérten (1999) retrospectives. Similarly, her latest, richly illustrated Women Artists in Expressionism explores how women negotiated the competitive world of modern art during the late Wilhelmine and early Weimar periods in Germany. Their stories
The two Witsies’ paths have crisscrossed throughout their lives: at King Edward VII School in Johannesburg (where Clingman was a year ahead of Kentridge); at Wits when they started their undergraduate year at the same time when Clingman returned from an exchange programme after completing high school; as fathers when their older daughters were born around the same time and their families enjoyed birthday parties together. Over the years they’ve remained in touch between exhibitions and operas in the US and South Africa. In 2019, Clingman wrote the essay for the major exhibition at the Norval Foundation, held in tandem with the exhibition at Zeitz-MOCAA, in Cape Town. In March 2020, just prior to
challenge predominantly male-oriented narratives of Expressionism and shed light on the divergent artistic responses of women to the dramatic events of the early twentieth century. Commentators have praised this work for “dismantling” the canonical histories of modernism as well as painting a clearer image of how women Expressionist artists were regarded during their lifetimes. Behr illustrates “the uniqueness of their struggles and strong contributions to a movement that has, until now, been viewed through the historical lens of masculinity”.
the COVID pandemic Clingman visited Kentridge in Johannesburg interviewing him, observing him at work in his studio, and watching him in operation at the Centre for the Less Good Idea. “I was in Johannesburg for only a week, but it was exhilarating; I loved the energy I found there, as I always do. “I can say that writing the catalogue was truly one of the most enriching and rewarding experiences I have ever had. During it, my admiration for William’s genius only increased – the sheer profusion,
creativity, and quality of his work across such a range of genres and media…I’m going to miss it now that it’s over,” says Clingman. Learn more on his personal website: https://www.stephenclingman.net/ Nov ember 2022 71
BOY ON THE RUN BY WELCOME MANDLA LISHIVHA JACANA, 2022
When Welcome Mandla Lishivha (BA 2013, BA Hons 2014) was 12 years old, he heard bangs from his mother’s room at their family home in Soshanguve, outside Pretoria. His mother had been shot by her boyfriend, who then turned the gun on himself. Boy on The Run is a journey of discovery about finding “a way for me to cope with the loss”. With the help of his remaining family, Lishivha takes the reader on a journey through his childhood, student politics, journalism studies, Fees Must Fall and then as a freelance journalist. Lishivha, who is a PhD candidate in Jurisprudence at the University of Pretoria, describes his mother Angelinah in the last lines of the
book: “She never had a garden, but she sure tended my hair like it was her own bed of roses.” He has worked as a travel writer and contributed to publications such as Getaway, Daily Maverick, Mail & Guardian, Reuters, GQ and City Press. His piece ‘Site Visits’ was published in the second volume of the Gerald Kraak Anthology, As You Like It: African Perspectives on Gender, Sexuality and Justice. Reviewer Mark Gevisser writes that the memoir “has broken new ground in South African literature in the voice he finds and the stories he tells – about growing up poor, and queer, and loved in a South African township.”
UNFORGIVEN: FACE TO FACE WITH MY FATHER’S KILLER BY LIZ MCGREGOR JONATHAN BALL, 2022
In this personal memoir Liz McGregor (MA 2006) details her harrowing attempt to find the truth about her father’s murder in August 2008. The harrowing trial left many questions after murder-accused Cecil Thomas was convicted. Years later, out of a sense of duty and as an attempt to make sense of her grief, McGregor set out to find Thomas in prison. She is a respected journalist and author who has written several books including Touch Pause Engage, the Springbok Factory (Jonathan Ball, 2011) and Khabzela (Jacana, 2007) and edited others, among them Loadshedding: Writing On and Over The Edge of South Africa (Jonathan Ball, 72 W I T S R E V I E W
2013) and At Risk (Jonathan Ball, 2009). Her father, Robin McGregor, was a 79-year-old retired publisher and coincidently the former mayor of the Western Cape town of McGregor. Shortly after the fall of apartheid, he was appointed to the Competition Commission because of his work as founder of independent research organisation Who Owns Whom after he became incensed by the monopolies that dominated business in South Africa. “He went and bought one share in every company in South Africa and put them down on our dining room table. He added them up and realised
DAY S OF ZONDO: THE FIGHT F OR FREEDOM FROM CORRUPTION BY FERIAL HAFFAJEE M AV E R I C K 4 51, 2 0 2 2
Ferial Haffajee (BA 1989) has had a long, respected career as a journalist and edited the Mail & Guardian and City Press before becoming associate editor of Daily Maverick. Days of Zondo is her second book, following What if There Were No Whites in South Africa? (Pan MacMillan, 2015). She has made sense of 429 hearings, 779 videos and numerous pages of documentary evidence to produce the book and has described it as a learning curve and “an honourable process”. It documents proceedings from the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture which has dominated headlines in South Africa for more than six years. The contents are divided into three parts: “The Map”, which gives readers the road map of the locus of State Capture; “The Mechanism”, which illustrates how “corruption has become so vertically and horizontally embedded in the system that its operation extracts and misdirects a substantial development dividend”; and “The Matrix” which sees Haffajee undertake case studies of Eskom, South African Airways, Transnet, Bosasa and the Free State asbestos housing scandal. Days of Zondo unravels a complex web of corruption and criminality, and leads the reader through Judge Raymond Zondo’s biggest moments while celebrating the whistleblowers whose testimonies often came at great personal cost.
that the entire economy was virtually owned by about five companies,” McGregor explained in an interview in June this year. “It took a long time to do the book. I was knocked down by a car and quite badly injured. I think the shock that gave me took me back to the shock and the sense of imminent danger, of danger being everywhere, that I had during the trial and my father’s murder – it gave me the adrenaline to do what I had been feeling for a long time, which is to find out the truth about my father’s murder: why
Haffajee is at pains to elucidate the detail for the ordinary citizen with smart use of infographics on what has been lost and how the quality of life for many South Africans could have improved. There are also contributions from other Witsies, including policy scholar Ivor Chipkin (BA 1992, BA Hons 1993, MA 1998) and deputy director-general at the National Treasury Ismail Momoniat (BSc 1978, BSc Hons 1979, MSc 1989). Haffajee warns that State Capture is not over. She offers some hope that the “arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”. She says whistleblowers, civil society and ordinary citizens have shown that a small action can change the trajectory of the story.
he died, the gang involvement, what it meant about our country. I needed to find out more as a journalist and also as a daughter. I thought I owed him that,” she said. She discovered that Thomas was educated and from a loving, comfortable home, but who had become addicted to drugs. In prison he had become involved in a broader gang network and resisted telling the truth even if he wanted to. “Despite all the grand words in the Constitution and in the legislation, the lofty ideals of restorative justice that theoretically
underpin our system are just that – ideals,” McGregor writes. To make it work, “efficient, ethical governance would have been required. He would have to be offered a credible alternative life, away from the gang, and treatment for his drug addiction.” McGregor currently lives in Cape Town and London with her husband Alan Hirsch (BA Hons 1978). Despite all the pain she’s endured, she told the Guardian: “I feel totally bound up with my country. Its pain and its anger and its yearnings are mine too.” Nov ember 2022 73
THE BLINDED CIT Y: TEN YEARS IN INNER-CIT Y JOHANNESBURG BY MATTHEW WILHELM-SOLOMON PICADOR, 2022
Over a research period of 10 years, from 2010 to 2019, Dr Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon (BA Hons 2005) has documented evictions, raids, murders, xenophobic attacks, and stories of a few Johannesburg residents seeking safety and a home in its inner city. What started out as an exploration of a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) survey in 2010 for an article in the Mail & Guardian grew into his first book, The Blinded City: Ten Years in Inner-City Johannesburg. Wilhelm-Solomon, who now lives between Johannesburg and Florianopolis in Brazil, was born in Johannesburg. He holds a master’s and doctorate in development studies from Oxford University, has a background as senior writing fellow in anthropology and is a visiting researcher in the African Centre for Migration and Society at Wits. Wilhelm-Solomon recalls his initial surprise at MSF’s finding that 50 000 to 60 000 people, mostly foreign migrants, live in substandard conditions a short distance from the family home he grew up in. The title
of the book alludes to the numerous visually impaired characters he interviews, but also the way of seeing spaces in the city that were opaque to him. What emerges are interwoven narratives that “present a compelling mosaic of life in post-apartheid Johannesburg”. Even at a time when most South Africans experience power cuts, and limited access to water and sanitation, The Blinded City makes for a harrowing read because of the litany of injustices the characters endure. There seems little respite for the city’s most vulnerable citizens who live in buildings that have been allowed to fall into dereliction, with criminal gangs extorting rent against a backdrop of successive governance failures and mayors’ attempts to “clean up” the city. Their only recourse appears to be in the sustained battle by civil society organisations such as the Legal Resources Centre and the Centre for Applied Legal Studies to hold the City of Johannesburg accountable. The book has been praised for
its narrative non-fiction style and it not only highlights the city’s urban housing crisis, it also does so with compassion. For example, WilhelmSolomon shares a song from Nomsa Dladla, an informal worker, who ironically understands she will never find a home in Johannesburg: “Beautiful home, my home/May I enter at the gates/May I find rest/ unburden myself in you/Beautiful home, my home!/I used to aimlessly go about my life/I could not see your beauty/I long/To see you, my home!/ There is good fortune in the home/ There is no longer any worry/Tears are wiped away/Beautiful home, my home!”
MENSCHES IN THE TRENCHES: JEWISH FOOT SOLDIERS IN THE ANTI-APARTHEID S TRUGGLE BY JONATHAN ANCER BAT YA BRICKER BOOK PROJECT S, 2022
A mensch, in Yiddish, is a person of integrity and honour; someone who would do the right thing even if it came at great personal cost. Although it is an ultimate compliment to be called a “mensch”, the true mensch is too modest to accept the label. Jonathan Ancer (BA 1993) 74 W I T S R E V I E W
was commissioned by the Jewish Board of Deputies to celebrate the contributions of numerous unsung Jewish South Africans who opposed injustice in Mensches in the Trenches. Ancer is an award-winning journalist and author of four previous books, notably Spy: Uncovering Craig
Williamson (Jacana, 2017), Betrayal: The Secret Lives of Apartheid Spies (NB Publishing, 2019) and Joining The Dots: The Unofficial Biography of Pravin Gordhan (Jonathan Ball, 2021). Through a series of interviews and forays into archival material,
the book reflects on influencing factors that may have motivated the characters to embark on their fight for human rights. Ancer said in an interview in April, that the project, which was done during the gloomy COVID-19 pandemic, was “hugely inspiring. I was moved by their courage and humbled by their sacrifices.” These unsung heroes and heroines had varying areas of interest as activists, artists, writers, scientists, lawyers, medics, journalists, architects, and policy makers. One thread that emerges is many were Witstrained. A few examples include: Jock Isacowitz, who left Wits in his final BA year to volunteer in the Second World War, and went on to head the Springbok Legion – the group of ex-servicemen who were determined to create a more equal South Africa, having been shaped by their experiences in the war; Roman Eisenstein (BA 1962, LLB 1966), was a member of the African Resistance Movement;
and Bernie Fanaroff (BSc 1968, BSc Hons 1970, DSc honoris causa 2013), a scientist, who, despite his Cambridge degree, chose to work tirelessly with his own resources to highlight workers’ poor working conditions. Meanwhile, King Kong, the first allblack South African musical, was led by Harry Bloom (BA 1934, LLB 1937) and supported by businessman Clive Menell (honorary LLD 1996), with Stanley “Spike” Glasser (BCom 1950) the musical director. Novelist, poet, editor, critic, essayist and publisher Lionel Abrahams (DLitt honoris causa 1986), despite being wheelchair-bound since the age of 11, worked voraciously and pored over manuscripts without payment and nurtured the careers of others including Oswald Mtshali and Mongane Wally Serote. What a great time to be reminded of these biographies of ordinary South Africans who valued human rights and justice more than money and prestige.
WITS UNIVERSIT Y AT 100: FROM EXC AVATION TO INNOVATION BY WITS COMMUNIC ATIONS WITS UNIVERSIT Y PRESS, 2022
Wits University at 100 tells the story of Wits from its beginnings as a mining college in Johannesburg to its current position as a vibrant university driving innovation from the global South. In the voices of its people, this full-colour, illustrated book celebrates the University’s centenary in 2022. The history of the University is inextricably linked to the development of Johannesburg, to mining, and to deeply rooted political and social activism. Wits University at 100: From Excavation to Innovation captures moments of Wits’ story over 100 years through exploring its origins, its place in society, its transformation and its challenges as it prepares for the next century.
Nov ember 2022 75
Centenarian 76 W I T S R E V I E W
100 YEARS S I R S Y D N E Y K E N T R I D G E I N 2 011 AT THE 34TH ANNIVERSAR Y OF THE DEATH OF S TEVE BIKO. HE REPRESENTED THE BIKO FAMILY IN THE INQUEST AFTER THE ACTIVIST'S DEATH AND EXPOSED POLICE BRUTALIT Y UNDER DETENTION. Gallo/Getty Images
Nov ember 2022 77
On 5 November 2022 Sir Sydney Woolf Kentridge KC (BA 1942, LLD honoris causa 2000) celebrated his 100th birthday. His abilities as a lawyer have earned him a world-wide reputation and saw Lord Alexander of Weedon QC, former leader of the English Bar, describe him as “simply the most highly regarded advocate in the Commonwealth”.
orn and raised in Johannesburg, he was the first of three brothers to study at Wits. He told the Wits Legal Resources Centre’s Oral History Project in a 2006 interview: “I became a lawyer simply because my father was a lawyer, it was something which one could do, and I couldn’t think of anything else that I could do.” In a recent article in the London Review of Books, Steven Sedly writes: “Two things distinguish Kentridge from his contemporaries: One was a principled liberalism, shorn of party allegiance, from which he never strayed. The other was a talent for advocacy – something that is not as mundane as it sounds and has little to do with oratory.” At Wits, as a student and active member of the 1941 SRC, he edited a special edition of the Wits student newspaper, WU’s Views, in response to calls for the University to impose segregation between its black and white students at all levels, or face expulsion from the intervarsity. The banner headline read: “Intimidation?” and the editorial sought to 78 W I T S R E V I E W
ABOVE: PROFESSOR ZEBLON VILAKAZI CHATS TO SIR SYDNEY KENTRIDGE ON A RECENT VISIT TO LONDON T O P R I G H T: W I T S SRC PHOTO FROM 19 41
rally the student body and reject the “interference” of Pretoria. From 1942 to 1946 he served with the South African armed forces in East Africa and Italy. After the war he read law at Exeter College in Oxford in 1946, graduating with first class honours in jurisprudence in 1948. The following year he returned to Johannesburg and was admitted as an advocate of the Supreme Court. In 1965 he became senior counsel and for several years chaired the Johannesburg Bar Council. “I suppose the reason why I got engaged in political cases was, I think, very much due to a great South African trade unionist called Solly Sachs. He ran the Garment Workers Union, and he was a great litigator, both personally and for the Garment Workers Union. And my father…almost immediately I came to the Bar, he got an attorney to brief me to do some cases for the Garment Workers Union, at a very junior level then,” he said in the 2006 interview. During a career spanning more than six decades, he was involved in big political trials
Back row: A Goldes, R Hons, LB van der Spuy, A Cowan, J Cassel, A Lanser, B Sacks 2nd row: A Medalie, S Mirlin, R Pretorius, H le Riche, A Feetham, Z Zur, A Oettle, B Cohen, B Drysdale Seated: D Bright (senior woman student), D Etheridge (hon secretary), V Thurnbull (vice-president), R Welsh (president), S Kentridge (hon secretary), J Richardson (hon treasurer), E Dixon
such as the Treason Trial, the Sharpeville inquest, the Rand Daily Mail trial and the Steve Biko inquest. He represented three Nobel Prize winners: Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Chief Albert Luthuli. Unlike other lawyers his career was diverse in range, as he took on cases of murder, libel, corporate takeovers, patent protection and constitutional law. His style was described by Nelson Mandela in Long Walk to Freedom as “always understated, controlled and relentlessly rational. His cross-examination was devastating. Of the private person, there were few glimpses.” In 1977 Sir Sydney was called to the English Bar and in 1984 he was made Queen’s Counsel. Three years later he relocated his practice to London. He returned to South Africa briefly in 1995 as acting justice of the Constitutional Court. He acted for the British government in numerous cases, including the litigation on the Maastricht Treaty. He has been the recipient of numerous
“I suppose the reason why I got engaged in political cases, was, I think, very much due to a great South African trade unionist called Solly Sachs.”
honours around the globe. In 1999 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to human rights law. He was also a recipient of the Order of the Baobab in Gold in 2008. Wits conferred a doctorate of laws on him in 2000 for “his outstanding personal qualities and exceptional contribution to law”. Sir Sydney is the long-standing Patron of the Wits Foundation UK. In 1952 Sir Sydney married Felicia, Lady Kentridge (LLB 1953), who died in 2015. They had four children, Catherine, William (BA 1976, honoris causa 2004) Eliza (BA 1982, BA Hons 1984) and Matthew (BA 1984, BA Hons 1985), nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He is an avid South African cricket fan, who according to The Times sees a personal trainer three times a week! Sources: Wits historical papers, Arena magazine 2004, Wits archive, LRC Oral History Project, LRB Vol 44 No18: “The Treason Trial”
Nov ember 2022 79
A lasting legacy
In Memoriam WE F ONDLY R EM E M BE R T HOSE WHO HAVE G ONE BE FORE US
Image: Layton Thompson
COLIN CARO [BSc 1947, BSc Hons 1950, MBBCh 1950, Med 1960, DSc Eng honoris causa 2010]
80 W I T S R E V I E W
One of the founders of bioengineering, pioneer in the study of arterial fluid mechanics, originator of the low-shearstress theory of atherosclerosis, scientist, and mentor Professor Colin Gerald Caro died on 21 February 2022 at the age of 96. He began his medical studies at Wits after matriculating at Parktown Boys High School in Johannesburg in 1942. At the end of 1944 his studies were interrupted to volunteer for the South African
Navy, where he served initially as an ordinary seaman at Saldanha Bay, and later aboard the frigate HMSAS Swale in the waters off the Cape and Equatorial East Africa. After demobilisation in early 1946, Caro returned to Wits, but changed direction to read for a science degree in physiology while simultaneously studying towards a medical degree. The BSc Hons and MBBCh were conferred in March and December of 1950, respectively. He
was awarded a doctorate in medicine in 1961 also at Wits, for a thesis entitled “Pulmonary Function in Patients with Kyphoscoliosis” in which he demonstrated that lung elastic recoil strongly determines airway resistance. After working in hospitals in South Africa, the US and the UK, Caro settled in London in 1960 as a lecturer at St Thomas’s Hospital Medical School. In 1966, he founded the Physiological Flow Studies Unit (PFSU), a pioneering bioengineering facility at Imperial College. At the time no researchers were trained in bioengineering but as director he recruited an eclectic mix of talented mathematicians, physicists, engineers, biomedical researchers and clinicians who shared his vision of a new, multidisciplinary approach but who had little if any previous experience of it. Importantly, interactions between the fundamental and applied researchers maintained both rigour and relevance, and the quality of the recruits led to excellence in new areas of research, outside of Professor Caro’s own developing interests, including respiratory airflow, tissue mechanics, physiological heat exchange, transport in connective tissues, the analysis of arterial pulse waves, and biofluid mathematics. Professor Caro’s foresight and skills were matched by his fund-raising and team-building abilities. PFSU was not only one of the first biofluids groups anywhere in the world but quickly grew to become an international powerhouse. The lack of an undergraduate teaching programme meant that salaries and facilities had to be supported by external funding. Over the years, he proved himself adept at obtaining grants from unorthodox sources. A list of Professor Caro’s scientific achievements and publications explains only part of his influence. He chaired or sat on influential bodies, but his views were also sought less formally, at scientific meetings and in casual conversation. He spoke quietly – almost inaudibly – and his handwriting was illegible. He
had gravitas and great presence, which undoubtedly aided his success, but he could also be mischievous. In his early days he was known for his furious driving around London of a Messerschmitt Kabinenroller (fortuitously also known as a Karo), a car with three wheels, two seats in tandem, a motorcycle engine and not much else. After his “retirement” in 1991 he retained an emeritus position and served as the first director of the Centre for Biological and Medical Systems at Imperial College, later to become the Imperial College Department of Bioengineering. He made daily visits to Imperial College until the start of the COVID pandemic 28 years later. He was still working on new ideas only weeks before his passing. His first and last papers are separated by 60 years. Professor Caro’s achievements include three honorary degrees, an invited professorship at Tokyo Women's Medical College (first awardee, 1981); inaugural member, World Council for Biomechanics (1990); Foreign Fellowship of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (initial awardee, 1994); Founding Fellowship of the International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering (2000); the Arthur Guyton Award from the International Society of Cardiovascular Medicine and Science (2003); Outstanding Engineer at the Engineer Technology and Innovation Awards (2007); and Annual Harveian Lecturer at the Harveian Society of London (2011). Professor Caro was married to Rachel Alice Caro, an architect, for 57 years, until her death in 2013. He later married Marilyn Evans, who had worked at PFSU. He is survived by a son, Simon, and daughter, Joanna, from his first marriage, and their children and grandchildren.
Sources: Wits University archives and Journal of Biomechanical Engineering
Professor Caro’s foresight and skills were matched by his fund-raising and team-building abilities. PFSU was not only one of the first biofluids groups anywhere in the world but quickly grew to become an international powerhouse.
A list of Professor Caro’s scientific achievements and publications explains only part of his influence. He chaired or sat on influential bodies, but his views were also sought at scientific meetings and in casual conversation. He spoke quietly – almost inaudibly – and his handwriting was illegible. He had gravitas and great presence, but he could also be mischievous... Nov ember 2022 81
SHIRLEY SIEW [MBBCh 1947, MMed 1963]
Professor Siew was among the 34 delegates who agreed upon the formation of the South African Society of Pathologists (SASP) and prepared a working constitution.
Besides her devotion to medicine, Professor Siew was also an avid pilot. She was one of the founding members of the Women’s Aviation Association. She continued to fly recreationally well into her 90s. 82 W I T S R E V I E W
Professor Shirley Siew passed away peacefully after a short illness on 16 June 2022 at the age of 97. She was a professor of pathology at the College of Human Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine in the Division of Cardiology at Michigan State University. She also practised as a senior pathologist at Ingham Regional Medical Center and was a consultant in cardiovascular pathology at St Lawrence Hospital, a faculty director in electron microscopy, and later an emeritus pathologist at Ingham Regional Medical Center and Sparrow Hospital. Born in St Petersburg, Russia, on 12 March 1925, Siew was the youngest of three children. Her family escaped antisemitism to South Africa in 1934. According to a family member, Evana Siew (BCom 1996), Shirley skipped two grades because she was so bright, and then went on to follow in her sister Tanya’s (BSc 1942, MBBCh 1947) footsteps by joining the handful of female students studying medicine at Wits. Professor Siew developed an interest and skill in electron microscopy when this was still in its infancy. During the late 1950s, the need for South Africa to have a National Pathology Group was recognised and Professor Siew was among the 34 delegates who agreed upon the formation of the South African Society of Pathologists (SASP) and prepared a working constitution. At the time, there was only one pathology discipline on the registry of specialties of the South African Medical and Dental Council so SASP was called upon to represent laboratory-based professionals on a wide spectrum of issues. The initial objectives of the society were to “advance pathology and to facilitate contact between those interested in pathology and related subjects”. In 1970 she moved to Indianapolis and two years later to Pittsburgh. In
1977, she moved to Michigan, where she stayed for the rest of her life, becoming a professor of pathology at Michigan State University. In 2011 Professor Siew was named a Fellow of the American Heart Association, and in 2013 she was appointed to membership of the Clinical Department of Biomedical Sciences. She published numerous articles, participated in scientific exhibitions, and presented at over 150 national and international scientific presentations and conferences. Her countless awards for contributions to medicine included two Gold Medals from the American Medical Association; a Dedication to Teaching Award from Michigan State University in 2000, awarded to a faculty member who has demonstrated dedication to excellence in teaching integrated clinical sciences in systems courses; a Pre-Clinical Teachers Award from the College of Human Medicine; and a Dedication Award from the College of Osteopathic Medicine. Professor Siew had a reputation for knowing each student by name and ensuring active participation in her lectures. In 2002, her students honoured her with a plaque and her portrait outside the histology lab for “her commitment and dedication in teaching the Michigan State University student body in the fields of cardiology and pathology for over 20 years.” Twelve years later, several of her students created the “Dr Shirley Siew Student Award” to support students who met the criteria to study clinical or doctoral degrees from Michigan State University. In November 2021, four months short of her 97th birthday, she retired officially. Besides her devotion to medicine, Professor Siew was also an avid pilot. She was one of the founding members of the Women’s Aviation Association and participated in the South African National Flying Championship in 1965. She continued to fly recreationally well into her 90s. Sources: Michigan State University, South African Jewish Report
HYMIE KLEIN [MBBCh 1953]
[BA 1952, BA Hons 1953, MA 1955]
Professor Garson was described as “judicious, caring and compassionate”, “maintaining the highest of standards in dealings with all matters and relationships”.
Gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr Hymie Ronald Klein, known as “Ronnie”, passed away peacefully at the age of 91 on 21 April 2022. He was born in Benoni to immigrant parents and after graduating from Wits in 1953 he specialised as physician as well as gynaecologist and obstetrician. Dr Klein was acknowledged by his peers and patients as one of the country’s best diagnosticians. He believed in life-long learning, publishing widely and addressing many congresses and symposiums.
Former Dean in the Faculty of Arts and professor of history, Professor Noel George Garson, passed away peacefully at his home in Johannesburg on 15 July 2022 at the age of 90. Professor Garson was born in Johannesburg in 1931 and his association with Wits extended more than 50 years, during which time he served as a leading academic and scholar. He obtained a first-class Bachelor of Arts degree and was awarded the Herbert Ainsworth Scholarship in modern history, and in 1955 obtained a master’s with distinction. His dissertation on “The Swaziland Question and a Road to the Sea (18871895)” was published in the Archives Year Book of South African History (Part II, 1957). In 1957 he obtained another firstclass degree at the Sidney Sussex College at the University of Cambridge. He returned to Wits, where he taught economic history before taking up a lectureship in the history department in 1958. He was appointed as a senior lecturer in 1964, and then as professor and head of the Department of History in 1967, at the age of 36. He remained in the department for 30 years until his retirement in 1996, except for two terms, during which he served as the Dean of the Faculty of Arts.
He lectured at the Johannesburg General Hospital and Wits Medical School and was an examiner for final year medical students. Despite his achievements and accolades, Dr Klein was described as “remarkably humble and kind, sought after by many for his Solomonic wisdom and insights”. He was a loving husband, and father of four daughters: Deborah, Lisa (BA 1993, BA Hons 1994), Julia and Jessica. Source: Jane Klein
A thought-provoking and inspiring history teacher, Professor Garson was known for his empathic and fair approach to his colleagues and students. He helped many navigate their professional and personal challenges. Colleagues and family members have described him as “judicious, caring and compassionate”, “straight in all his dealings and a stranger to malice”, “maintaining the highest of standards in dealings with all matters and relationships”. As a historian, his interests included the English Reformation, the philosophy of history, and South African political history, in particular the complicated era of Jan Smuts. Professor Garson was instrumental in expanding the history syllabus to the study of the liberation struggle in South Africa and on the African continent. He was able to accommodate competing vantage points in the department with flexibility and diplomacy. Professor Garson’s expertise extended beyond Wits. He was an active University member of the Joint Matriculation Board and the Independent Examinations Board. He chaired the Parktown High School for Girls, worked with the Human Sciences Research Council, and did much to preserve South Africa’s historical records. He published widely in historical Nov ember 2022 83
journals and other publications. Throughout his life he remained intellectually curious, an ardent sports enthusiast and nature lover. He leaves behind his remarkable family of Witsies: his wife, Yvonne, who was a librarian at the William Cullen library; his four daughters, Lisa (BSc 1988, BSc Hons 1990),
GERALD GILCHRIST [MBBCh 1957]
“The key ingredients for realising the potential of talented students is not necessarily high-technology laboratories or fancy facilities; where there are dedicated and serious teachers dedicated to hands-on medical education, the seeds of greatness will grow.” GERALD GILCHRIST
84 W I T S R E V I E W
Paediatric haematologist-oncologist Professor Gerald “Gerry” Gilchrist died in his home in Minneapolis, US on 10 April 2022. He was born in Springs, east of Johannesburg. He served as Helen C Levitt Professor for 12 years, and chair of paediatric and adolescent medicine at Mayo Clinic and Mayo Medical School. From 1981 to 2000, he directed the Mayo Comprehensive Haemophilia Centre. He chaired the National Childhood Cancer Foundation’s Medical Advisory Committee, the American Board of Paediatrics (ABP) Sub Board of Paediatric Haematology-Oncology, the American Academy of Paediatric section on Haematology/Oncology, and its Council on Sections. He also played significant roles in the activities of the Children’s Cancer Group, and was a director of the ABP, and a member of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education Residency Review Committee for Paediatrics. Professor Gilchrist met his best friend and future wife, Toni Besset, in 1967, on a flight from Houston to Los Angeles; they connected over the novel The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. After retirement, he and Toni moved to Minneapolis. He was a founding board member of Reach Out and Read MN and volunteered in the Little Earth community, helping children learn to read. Despite many awards, honours and leadership positions, Professor Gilchrist was described as “a humble leader and mentor; he asked to be remembered as a good guy and an honest broker”. Among his many honours were the National Foundation’s Joseph D Early Award in 1997; the America Medical
Catherine (PDip Ed 1981, BA Hons 2009), Fiona (BArch 1988) and Philippa (BA 1986, BA Hons 1989), his sonsin-law, nine grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. See WITSReview October 2014. https://issuu.com/ witsalumnirelations/docs/october_2014 Source: Wits University and archives
Association’s Abraham Jacobi Memorial Award in 2001; and American Academy of Paediatrics Child Advocacy Award in 2012. He was a loyal Witsie, serving on the SRC in 1956/1957. In 2004, he wrote in Pediatrics about the incredible contributions made by Wits-trained physicians in the United States. “It is not possible to separate the roles of seed and the soil in contributing to this impressive list of achievements. However, in my opinion, these unique accomplishments reflect in large part the superb clinical training and the commitment to education of the teaching staff at Wits Medical School’s affiliated paediatric units. This suggests that the key ingredients for realising the potential of talented students is not necessarily high-technology laboratories or fancy facilities; where there are dedicated and serious teachers dedicated to hands-on medical education, the seeds of greatness will grow.” He is survived by his wife, sister Maureen, three children, their spouses and grandchildren. Sources: Wits University archives, The Star Tribune
JOHANNES DE BEER [BSc 1960, BSc Hons 1962, MSc 1966]
De Beer left an indelible impression on the field of engineering geology. His Engineering Geological Map of Johannesburg is still used by many and was recently digitised.
[MBBCh 1960, DSc Med 2020]
Respected engineering and environmental geologist Johannes “Joe” de Beer died peacefully on 16 April 2022 at the age of 84. He was born and raised in Pretoria, matriculating from Helpmekaar High School for Boys in 1955 and going on to major in geography and geology at Wits. His first job was at the General Mining and Finance Corporation in the Free State gold fields and he returned to Wits to complete his honours in economic geology in 1961. In 1964, he changed direction and completed his master’s in science in engineering geology with Dr Tony Brink as his supervisor. His thesis, with hundreds of profiles around Johannesburg and his Engineering Geological Map of Johannesburg is still used by many and was recently digitised. He worked at Ove Arup and Partners from 1965 to 1979. Notable projects included the Carlton Centre (with its 30 metre deep basement covering four city blocks), the Standard Bank Centre (30m basement, built over old stopes on Main and South reefs), the Hillbrow microwave tower (269m-high concrete structure) and the Vaal Reefs South Reduction works (these had complex foundations in dolomitic terrain). As a committed member of the
profession, he was involved in the South Africa Section of the Association of Engineering Geologists in the 1970s and was chairman of the organisation for several years. He was offered a Senior Emeritus Membership in 2009 and in 2014 he was awarded a Gold Medal. He left an indelible impression on the field of engineering geology and his passionate interest in data banking kept not only his own records in order but those of the companies he worked in. He set up the Johannesburg Geotechnical Data Bank. According to the South African Institute for Engineering and Environmental Geologists, it is perhaps the last functioning data bank in the country. He was an avid collector of rocks and a keen environmentalist, who cared deeply about botany, and loved indigenous trees and succulents. In 1966 he married a music teacher, Patricia, who developed Alzheimer’s at the age of 49 and died at the age of 64. De Beer is survived by his partner Anna Batchelor-Steyn and two children Tamsen and Charl (BCom 1994, BAcc 1995).
Respected nephrologist Professor Emeritus Anthony Molyneux Meyers, known as “Tony”, died on 24 September 2022. After matriculating from St John’s College, he took an early interest in renal disease as a qualified doctor. He was a pioneer in haemodialysis and kidney transplantation and was a member of the team that performed the first kidney transplant in Johannesburg in the early 60s. In 1989 he was made professor of nephrology at Wits, a position he retained until 2013. He was the founder member of the SA Renal Society as well as the South African Transplant Society, the African Association of Nephrology and the National Kidney Foundation of South Africa. He drew attention to the country’s
chronic kidney disease burden, helping to establish early intervention programmes, educating health providers and setting up regional dialysis centres. He is remembered as an inspiring teacher and mentor who had an insatiable curiosity and enjoyed his pursuits of sport, mountain climbing, game- and-bird watching and fishing with enthusiasm. He completed his doctorate in medicine at the age of 87. He is survived by his wife Jennifer Craig Allan, whom he married in 1958, and their four sons: Kevin (MBBCh 1983, TM&H 1990), Stephen, Neville and Bruce, their spouses and children.
Source: South African Institute for Engineering and Environmental Geologists
Sources: Wits medical class of 1960 archives and memorial service
Nov ember 2022 85
HAROLD EDWIN PRICE [BSc Hons 1960]
Harold Price is remembered for his intellect as a physicist; his humour and intelligence; his dedication as a teacher of maths, physics and chess; and above all, his honesty and integrity, a man who lived every single day true to himself.
86 W I T S R E V I E W
Harold Edwin Price, known as Eddie, was born in Johannesburg on 26 January 1939. His grandparents had come from Lithuania, but his father was born in Oudtshoorn and his mother in Johannesburg. Price went on to Rosettenville Central School and then Forest High School. At 13 his life changed forever when he was introduced to the game of chess. In 1954, the 14-year-old Price made newspaper headlines by beating chess grandmaster and world champion Max Euwe, to the astonishment of everyone. He became a schoolboy chess champion several times over, a game which was to prove central to his life. A born scientist, he won the Elsie Ballot Scholarship for study at the University of Cambridge after his BSc Honours in physics at Wits. He and his wife Joan moved to England, where he completed his MPhil in physics at St John’s College, Cambridge, and his oldest daughter, Victoria, was born. He came back to South Africa to a lecturing job at Wits, teaching general physics, quantum mechanics, electrodynamics, thermodynamics and special relativity. In the years that followed, he was a visiting lecturer at Cornell University in the United States and at the University of Kent at Canterbury in England. He delivered the Einstein Memorial Lecture at Wits on 15 March 1979, 100 years and
a day after Einstein’s birth on 14 March 1879. Status mattered not to Price and for years he occupied a tiny office at Wits that was “suspended in an undeclared mezzanine space”. He was a big character whose social world and numerous friends around the globe, revolved around chess, squash, lecturing physics, daily runs, playing bridge and teaching. He was the sole parent for his three daughters after his wife’s death nearly 40 years ago. His competitive chess days ended in the early 2000s when he represented South Africa for the last time at the World Seniors. After his death, tributes poured in from the chess community around the world for his lifetime contribution to the sport and he was described as a “true giant of the game” and “a very sad loss for SA Chess”. He is remembered for his intellect as a physicist; his humour and intelligence; his dedication as a teacher of maths, physics and chess; and above all, his honesty and integrity, a man who lived every single day true to himself. He is survived by his three Witseducated daughters and their families.
Sources: Deborah (BA 1980) Victoria (BA 1984, PDipEd 1985) and Tonia Price (BSc 1988, MSc 1992)
DAWN IRENE STEPHENS [BSc 1961]
She had an enormous zest for life and love for her family and friends.
A proud Wits alumna, a devoted sister, daughter, wife and mother of three, long serving community leader, energetic grandmother and a respected chief chemist, Dawn Stephens, née Cawood, died on 4 December 2021, aged 80, after suffering a brain haemorrhage. Stephens was born in Boksburg to James and Maud Cawood and grew up in a civic-minded family. Her father served on the Boksburg Town Council for 22 years and was mayor from 1959 until 1969 and again in 1975. She was deputy head girl of Boksburg High School and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and applied mathematics in 1961. Stephens started working as a chemist for Anglo American Central Metallurgical Laboratories and then moved to SAPPI from 1963 until 1967. She then took time out to start her family before going back to work for East Rand Gold and Uranium from 1980 till 1990. In the later part of her career, she was involved with mentoring young graduates doing research and development work. In 1990 she moved to Impala Platinum Refineries and was promoted in 1993 to chief chemist, first in the Nickel and Copper Laboratory and then in the Platinum Metals Laboratory. She served on numerous community committees both at local government and on a professional level and in most instances as chairman. In 1975, she fought in her father’s ward (as an independent candidate) and won the by-election to fill his seat on the Town Council. She served for 24 years as a councillor and was later awarded the title of Alderman for her many years of dedication and service. Boksburg grew and prospered during this time and went on to become a city. During her time in local government, she spearheaded the building of the Boksburg Library, helped get the Strelitzia Service Centre and Cosmos Home for senior citizens built, fought to get pensioner rebates for rates introduced and obtained
concessions for disabled motorists. She stopped the old Post Office from being demolished and got it declared a historical monument, and also campaigned for the revamping of the Boksburg North swimming pool to meet Olympic standards. In her early 60s she was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer but was asked to stay on and consult even though she was undergoing treatment. She beat breast cancer and would generously give her time to supporting fundraising initiatives and encouraging other breast cancer survivors. After her retirement she also served as an external assessor on the Wits Admissions Board. Stephens enjoyed gardening, travelling, playing bridge and spending time with her family and friends. She is remembered for her courage, mentoring of others and astute bridge skills. She had an enormous zest for life and love for her family and friends. She believed that personal fulfilment comes from having a well-rounded life. She is survived by her three children Raymond, Brett and Debbie and beloved granddaughter, Sarah. Source: Debbie Wray
Nov ember 2022 87
Respected curator, lecturer and author Maria Helena “Marilyn” Martin died on 22 May 2022 in Oranjezicht, Cape Town from cancer. She was an architectural historian with research interests in early twentieth century modernism and the former head of the Iziko National Art Museum. According to news reports she completed her last book from a hospital bed on her cellphone. Martin grew up in Robertson and Heidelberg. She started university at the age of 23, while working at a newspaper in various capacities, and completed her honours degree in history of art from the University of South Africa. She was a single mother with two children and was offered a position as a lecturer in art history at the University of DurbanWestville after her ex-husband moved to Scotland. She stayed for five years and later moved to Wits. She initially worked at the university’s Performing Arts Centre, doing administration “because I couldn’t get a teaching job without a master’s degree”. She registered to do a master’s in architectural history and was soon appointed as a lecturer of the history of art and architecture in the Department of Architecture. Martin took on the role of director of the South African National Gallery in Cape Town from Raymond van Niekerk (BDS 1953) in 1990. She acknowledged it was her experience at Wits that informed her decision to place work of different artists and time frames, for example the historical African and contemporary work, in the exhibition. She was unafraid of the prevailing cultural patriarchal orthodoxy and during her tenure she promoted an enlightened agenda. Martin initiated several projects to redress past injustices and transform
She was unafraid of the prevailing cultural patriarchal orthodoxy and during her tenure she promoted an enlightened agenda.
88 W I T S R E V I E W
future policy. She learned isiXhosa and the museum started using languages apart from English and Afrikaans. She broadened the acquisitions policy to include works not traditionally defined as “fine art”, such as beadwork, ceramics, textiles, photography, cartoon drawings and architectural design. She ensured a greater transparency in the way the gallery operated and even made entry to the museum free. She repatriated artefacts and artworks (including about 2 000 works by Gerard Sekoto). Martin was appointed director of art collections for Iziko Museums in 2001 and retired in 2008 but remained active in art circles. She was a member of the National Arts Council from 1997 to 2004 and a trustee of the Arts and Culture Trust until 2007. She served on the Council of Iziko Museums from 2010 until 2013. Martin was described as “stylish, academically honed and politically enlightened”. While her demeanour may have been tough, she had a kind and generous heart. A close friend, Melvyn Minnaar, told Beeld newspaper that she made sure the homeless around the South African National Gallery got food, especially on Christmas Day, and she knew many of their names. She curated numerous exhibitions of South African art around the world, including Mali (1994 and 1996), Denmark (1996), France (1997), the USA (2002 and 2003) and for the 2002 São Paulo Bienal. She co-curated Picasso and Africa in 2006 and the Louis Maqhubela Retrospective at the Standard Bank Gallery in 2010. Martin wrote numerous articles on art, culture and architecture in academic journals, exhibition catalogues, books, magazines and newspapers. She was the author of Between Dreams and Realities: A History of the South African National Gallery, 1871-2017 (Print Matters, 2019). https://issuu.com/witsalumnirelations/ docs/wits_review__april_2020_vol43_issuu/82. Her most recent monograph titled Kevin Atkinson – Art and Life (Print Matters, 2022) is due to be released later this year. Martin was an honorary research
JOHN KANEBERMAN [BA 1968]
At Wits, KaneBerman led campaigns against social segregation and government interference in higher education.
associate at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town. She served as visiting professor at Kingston University, London, in 2009. In 2002 she was admitted to the Legion of Honour of the Republic of France at the rank of Officer and in 2013 she received the medal of the Fondation Alliance Française in Paris. She was also compiling a group exhibition for the Hermanus Fine Arts Festival to open its tenth year of
existence in the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg, touring the country. She served on the National Arts Council as a board member and was also on the board of the Creative Arts Foundation. Martin is survived by her daughter Catherine, son John (Ziyaad) and his wife Shereen, and grandchildren Leilah and Reyaaz.
The former CEO of the Institute of Race Relations, John Kane-Berman, died after a short illness on 27 July 2022 at the age of 76. Kane-Berman, the eldest of five brothers, was born in Johannesburg in 1946 and grew up in what he described as a “happy, comfortable, and politically conscious family”. His father, Louis, was chairman of the Torch Commando, the group of World War II veterans who rallied to the cause of disenfranchised coloured South Africans in the Cape in the early 1950s. He received a firstclass matric at St John’s College in 1962, which was followed by a year in Sixth Form. He was heavily involved in the literary, historical, and political affairs at the school and was a Geoffrey Cherrington Bursary winner and the co-editor of The Johannian, to which he contributed many poems, articles and stories. He was also the secretary of the SJC Literary Society and chairman of the history society. He was the treasurer of the St John’s African Education Fund. His education continued at Wits, and in his first year he became part of the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) and later became its president in 1968. At Wits, Kane-Berman led campaigns
against social segregation and government interference in higher education. In 1967 when Rhodes University refused to allow delegates to a National Union of South African Students (NUSAS) conference to eat together, he supported Steve Biko’s decision to break from NUSAS and launch the South African Students’ Organisation (SASO). Kane-Berman reflected decades later that the ensuing rise of Black Consciousness had been “a healthy and necessary development”. From Wits he went to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and shortly after his return to South Africa he met Pierre Roestorf, with whom he entered a civil union performed by Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron. In 1973 he joined the staff of the Financial Mail. He was able to use his position powerfully to expose the absurdities of apartheid. In 2018 he wrote of his time there: “My time at the FM in the 1970s gave me the chance to chronicle the National Party’s attempts to reconcile the irreconcilable – economic necessity and political ideology. The NP was simultaneously trying both to loosen and to strengthen apartheid policies. It was also trying to shift the basis of discrimination from race to nationality. We were relentless in exposing each twist and turn of this saga, both the absurdity and the inhumanity.” It was while at the Financial Mail that he wrote his famous book on the Soweto uprising of 1976, Soweto: Black Revolt, White Reaction (Ravan Press, 1978).
Sources: ArtThrob, Beeld and Wits alumni archives
Nov ember 2022 89
Kane-Berman’s primary impulse was described as “a love of and respect for humanity” and a friend said “he wouldn’t see history as inevitable, political realities as immovable, crass social engineering as acceptable, nor honesty and principles as negotiable”.
Image: Atomic Digest
[BA 1968, BA Hons 1969]
He moved to freelance journalism and in 1983 become CEO of the South African Institute of Race Relations. He used the organisation to plant ideas for a more just South Africa, delivering numerous public speeches, reports, newspaper articles and books. South Africa’s Silent Revolution (Southern Book Publishers, 1990) detailed how the resistance of ordinary people had become the most important and influential factor in defeating apartheid. In his 2017 memoir, Between Two Fires – Holding the Liberal Centre in South African Politics (Jonathan Ball, 2017) he wrote: “I myself never had any weapons, other than words.” The work continued after 1994. By the time he retired as CEO in 2014, the institute was one of the most
influential sources of liberal ideas in the South African public domain. He was the recipient of the St John’s Golden Eagle Award for tirelessly promoting constitutionalism and economic liberalism. At his funeral, a friend and former colleague Paul Pereira described KaneBerman’s primary impulse as “a love of and respect for humanity” and said “he wouldn’t see history as inevitable, political realities as immovable, crass social engineering as acceptable, nor honesty and principles as negotiable”. Kane-Berman is survived by his partner, Pierre Roestorf, and extended family.
South African film and arts critic and writer Barry Ronge died at the age of 74 in Johannesburg on 3 July 2022. Ronge was born in Hillbrow, Johannesburg and grew up on the West Rand where he attended Florida Park High School. He began a teaching career at St John’s College after graduating from Wits and this was followed by a 10-year stint as a lecturer in literature at the University. Ronge contributed to commentary on literature, theatre, dance, culture and film for over three decades in South Africa. He was the first male journalist reporting for the “women’s page” of The Star between 1980 and 1982 and was also the first editor of the entertainment supplement, Star Tonight! As a food critic in the late 1980s, he wrote under the pseudonym of Rebecca Parker. His long-running column Spit ’n Polish was published as a book in 2006 and he
had a Sunday-night radio show on 702 from 1989 to 2004. He also participated on popular entertainment and magazine shows, which featured his insight into South African culture. He retired from public life in 2014 and dedicated himself to gardening. He was awarded a British Tourism Certificate in 2003 for his contribution to the English language and culture and in 2005 received the English Academy SA’s Pringle Award for reviews and contribution to the English language. In 2014 he was awarded a Special Lifetime Achievement Award by the Sunday Times for his contribution to South Africa’s cultural life. In 2015 the newspaper announced that its Fiction Prize would be known as the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize (it is no longer named after a person). He is survived by his partner of 45 years, Albertus van Dyk.
Sources: Wits archive, Institute of Race Relations and Business Day.
Sources: Sunday Times, Beeld
Ronge contributed to commentary on literature, theatre, dance, culture and film for over three decades in South Africa. In 2014 he was awarded a Special Lifetime Achievement Award by the Sunday Times for his contribution to South Africa’s cultural life. 90 W I T S R E V I E W
[BA 1972, BA Hons 1974, PhD 2003]
Dr Jillian Carman died of pancreatic cancer on 29 May 2022. She was a loyal Wits alumna, visiting research associate at the Wits School of Arts, former curator at the Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG) and deputy-president of the executive committee of Wits Convocation for many years. She had a keen interest in South African heritage, museums, public collections, and art history. Dr Carman edited one of the volumes of probably the most definitive collection
of essays on South African art history: The Visual Century: South African Art in Context 1990-2007 (Wits University Press, 2011). She was responsible for the development of the Museum Standards Toolkit, an indispensable tool for assessing compliance with international museum standards. She had a “kind, friendly and caring demeanour” and held a deep institutional memory and dedication to the life of South African art.
Dr Ian McKay died on 13 July 2022 following a sudden heart attack. He was the education and outreach specialist for the Centre of Excellence in Palaeosciences and the Evolutionary Studies Institute at Wits. A geologist’s son, McKay developed an early love of life sciences. While studying at Wits he was fascinated by the remarkably good preservation of fossil insects from the Orapa Crater Lake deposits, and it became a lifelong passion to discover more about this ancient insect fauna. He completed his doctorate in 1990, on carabid beetles and the palaeoenvironment of the Orapa deposit, and subsequently worked for the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute, undertaking research on ticks and discovering two new species. He realised that he had a calling for science communication and education, so he successfully enrolled for a higher diploma in education at Wits. This led to an appointment as a science/environmental education specialist for the RADMASTE Centre associated with Wits. He led a programme in environmental education, writing science curriculum support materials, presenting courses on environmental education, and working on various special projects, one
of which was to develop a low-cost kit for water quality testing. Between 2001 and 2014 McKay managed geoscience and palaeoscience outreach in the School for Geoscience at Wits. Here he was tasked to raise sufficient funding to undertake the work and to support his salary. Accordingly, he set up the company ITM Development Education Services with the mission to facilitate development through out-ofthe-box thinking, fundraising, conscientious project management, and the communication of technical information in plain language using entertaining and interactive techniques. He also enrolled for an MBA at Wits to sharpen his business skills. In 2014 he was appointed education and outreach officer by the newly established DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Palaeosciences. He performed many functions, including school curriculum analysis and liaison with the Education Department and the DST (now DSI) for evolution and palaeontology to be introduced into the national South African school curriculum for Grades 10–12. To introduce this new topic, McKay was responsible for delivering workshops on evolution and palaeontology for subject
Source: City of Joburg and Wits archives
[BSc 1984, BSc Hons 1985, PhD 1990, HDip Ed 1996]
Nov ember 2022 91
His fellow geoscience educators will never forget his passion, enthusiasm and dedication to geoscience education and outreach and his wonderful sense of humour.
PHINDILE XABA [BA 2004]
92 W I T S R E V I E W
advisors from eight of the nine South African provinces. He also designed educational programmes and museum exhibits, created hands-on biology and geoscience courses, trained student guides to present tours and designed holiday science programmes. This involved the production of resource materials for teachers and learners, which were distributed to schools, as well as fundraising to produce palaeontological exhibits. For several years he organised and ran National Science Week for Wits. This included fundraising, coordinating science communication, marketing and communication with the press, and coordinating various activities. Every year he participated in various science-related exhibitions such as Day of the Dinosaur Exhibition (Sandton Convention Centre); Yebo Gogga (at Wits); National Science Week (Sci-Bono Science Centre); Engineering Week (Sci-Bono Science Centre); Earth Sciences Week (Sci-Bono Science Centre); and Sustainable Energy Week (Sci-Bono Science Centre). He won several awards for his innovative exhibitions, which were engaging
and fun. In addition to his engagement with learners and teachers at a national level, he was also an active member of the International Geoscience Educators Organisation (IGEO), and oversaw the GeoSciEd conferences every four years, and the annual International Earth Sciences Olympiad. He served as the principal South African councillor for IGEO. He was a founding member of the South African Geoscience Educators Association, responsible for organising and hosting the GeoSciEd VI conference at Wits in 2010. McKay was making plans to have the first-ever South African team enter the International Earth Sciences Olympiad. His fellow geoscience educators will never forget his passion, enthusiasm and dedication to geoscience education and outreach and his wonderful sense of humour. He was a devoted father who is survived by his wife Tracey and his daughters Gwen and Erin, and stepdaughter Joy.
Journalist Phindile Xaba died on 7 May 2022 at the age of 53 after a cancer diagnosis in 2020. Xaba’s career included being the editor of Real Magazine, under the Media24 stable, which created “a platform for healing of women”. She was also the founding editor of the Sowetan women’s club and worked for the Mail & Guardian as the editor of The Teacher, The New Age, True Love, City Press and The Journalist among others. At the time of her death, she was a communicator in the office of the deputy minister in the Department of Public Service and Administration, Dr Chana Pilane-Majake. Xaba began her career in print media at the age of 17, but she also worked as a television production manager, scriptwriter, producer, director and researcher, with some of her work
showcased on SABC and M-Net. She had a long-standing relationship with Penn State University in Pennsylvania, working closely with journalism students and Professor Anthony Olorunnisola. Fellow Wits graduate and journalist Mathatha Tsedu (BA Hons 2008) described Xaba as “the journalist’s journalist”. “She walked the communications route extensively, living up to her belief that information is power and that communication, particularly journalism, was critical in the developing state of democracy here at home,” he said. She was further described as a “kind, smart, exceptionally skilled, and hardworking woman”. Xaba is survived by her daughter, Nhlakaniso, three siblings and her parents.
Source: Genus Africa
Sources: News24, TimesLive
PAOLO TRINCHERO [BSc Eng 1990, MSc Eng 1993]
CEO of the Southern African Institute of Steel Construction (SAISC) Paolo Trinchero passed away on 21 August 2022 at the age of 53 following a battle with cancer. He was involved in the steel industry in South Africa for about 30 years. His career started as a Dorbyl structural engineering bursary student and he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering in 1990, followed by his master’s degree in 1993 under the supervision of Professor Alan Kemp, who introduced him to the workings of the SAISC through the Steel Design Code Committee. To gain commercial experience, he then joined Macsteel Trading as an engineering manager in 2003, starting its cellular beam division, and ultimately became group business development and
technical director at Macsteel Corporate Services. Throughout his 11 years at Macsteel, Trinchero never lost touch with the SAISC and in 2013 he returned to the institute as its CEO. He was passionate about anything related to steel and a “tireless, selfless and dedicated champion” of the sector at public and private levels. The institute in South Africa is one of only six around the world. He understood that the strength of the industry – and the institute – lay in technical competence and a sense of community. In a 2013 interview he said his philosophy in life was to “persevere and never give up”. He enjoyed DIY, hiking and spending time with his family. He leaves his wife Lora their three children Giulio, Angelo and Sabrina.
Andrea Leenen passed away on 1 March 2022 after a short illness. Leenen was a close friend of Wits and an ardent supporter of the palaeosciences. She was CEO of the Palaeontological Scientific Trust (PAST) since 2000 and raised funds to build the organisation into one of the largest that support research, education and understanding of Africa's fossil history. Leenen saw the origin sciences as a gateway for young Africans to embrace scientific thinking. To help steer learners toward a career in the African origin sciences, she co-created the award-winning Walking Tall educational theatre project with Greg Melvill-Smith in 2001. In its original form as a live theatre performance followed by an interactive science session that won the hearts and heads of learners, Walking Tall visited schools and science festivals throughout South Africa and in seven other African countries, reaching over 1.4 million beneficiaries. Recently, she led the creation of filmed Walking Tall theatre performances, termed “theamentaries”, which promise to greatly expand the project’s reach in
and beyond Africa. In recognition of the tremendous social value of the origin sciences, Leenen co-led the creation of the All from One campaign with Rob Blumenschine in 2015. One of the campaign’s inspirations was the late PAST patron and fellow Witsie Johnny Clegg’s Scatterlings of Africa song, which PAST adopted as its credo in 2011. All from One uses the science of the shared origins of life and the African origins of people everywhere to promote continental pride and dignity, human unity and anti-racism, and the imperative for our survival to conserve Earth’s natural environments and biodiversity. At the time of her passing, Leenen was leading the expansion of All from One into what she anticipated would become a global campaign. Tributes from colleagues indicate that Leenen was “a beacon of enthusiasm, intelligence and generosity that shined without limit. Her passion for and knowledge of Africa and its prehistoric past earned her the admiration and love of countless people across the continent and beyond.”
ANDREA LEENEN [MSc 2011]
Sources: PAST, Wits University
Nov ember 2022 93
ELVIRA SINGH [MMed 2009]
In addition to her tremendous work at the NCR, she developed a flourishing research career, being an author or co-author on more than 30 peer-reviewed research publications. She was also a superb teacher at undergraduate and postgraduate level.
A respected public health specialist two years of data from the EPBCR, and with extensive experience in the fields was in the process of establishing a secof cancer and surveillance and cancer ond population-based cancer registry epidemiology, Dr Elvira Singh died on in KwaZulu-Natal, in collaboration 27 February 2022. She was head of the with colleagues from the University of National Cancer Registry and a senior KwaZulu-Natal. staff member at the National Institute for She was also dedicated to collaboratCommunicable Diseases. ing with the cancer registry in research Singh graduated as a medical doctor activities. She collaborated with IARC from the University of KwaZulu-Natal at scientists on studies on haematological the end of 2000 and received her master’s malignancies and on childhood cancer, degree in community health as well as as well as pilot activities on how to invesher fellowship in public tigate possible cancer risks in health from Wits, winning relation to the contamination Dr Singh the Henry Gluckman Medal from uranium and other was ideally for Best Candidate. harmful substances found She then joined the in the gold mine tailings in placed to National Institute for the Johannesburg region. advise on the Occupational Health as a She always insisted that this government’s public health specialist in research went hand in hand policy and January 2010. Under her with capacity-building, enleadership, first as acting suring that early career scienstrategic head in 2013 and officialtists would participate in and approach ly in 2016, the National benefit from this work. towards Cancer Registry was an In addition to her trecancer active member of the African mendous work at the NCR, prevention Cancer Registry Network, she developed a flourishing which is the Sub-Saharan research career, being an and control. Africa Regional Hub of the author or co-author on International Agency for more than 30 peer-reviewed Research on Cancer’s Global Initiative for research publications. She was also a Cancer Registry Development (GICR). superb teacher at undergraduate and The National Cancer Registry was nompostgraduate level, supervising a number inated as a GICR Collaborating Centre of master’s and PhD candidates. for the region for childhood cancer Dr Singh was ideally placed to advise and record linkage, and Singh was also on the government’s policy and strategic instrumental in ongoing developments approach towards cancer prevention and to establish national childhood cancer control. She contributed significantly to registration in South Africa, as part of the the approved National Cancer Strategic IARC–St Jude project ChildGICR. Framework; the policies for breast and Dr Singh enhanced the patholocervical cancer; the pending policies gy-based cancer surveillance system, on prostate and lung cancer; and the to implement pilot population-based proposed policy on childhood and adocancer registration, and to extend this lescent cancer. initiative to three other sentinel surveilShe is survived by her husband lance sites throughout the country. The Shailen, her son Mihail, and her mother Ekurhuleni Population-Based Cancer Roshni Singh. Registry (EPBCR) is the first urban population-based cancer registry in South Source: International Agency for Research on Cancer, Africa. Singh led a team that produced Wits University and Daily Maverick
SEE MORE AND FULL-LENGTH OBITUARIES ON THE ALUMNI WEBSITE: WWW.WITS.AC.ZA/ALUMNI/OBITUARIES/
94 W I T S R E V I E W
(dis) comfort of (un) certainty You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone ... A refrain that echoed through most of 2020 and 2021, as we all bemoaned the activities – from daily comforts to grand adventures – that we had taken for granted until the great COVID pause. For staff and students at universities around the world, these included the small pleasures of campus life. Witsies have rediscovered them in 2022, despite the blended learning and hybrid home/ office models that have come to characterise our collective new normal.
BY PROFESSOR CHRIS THURMAN
Nov ember 2022 95
haven’t spent as much time on Wits campus this year as I would have liked. And I have lost touch with the flâneur’s art: wandering somewhere (or nowhere in particular) with a keen eye and ear, taking it all in, observing and listening or just feeling vaguely connected to the people and place around you. So it was with a quiet thrill that I found myself strolling through the Wits School of Arts, puzzling over the architectural quirks of its eclectic cluster of buildings, tuning into snippets of conversation between gesticulating smokers, admiring the focus of a spray-painting artist, catching a few bars of a saxophone solo drifting down from a window somewhere above me. All this activity could proceed without electricity. Not so the final leg of my journey. My destination was the Wits Art Museum (WAM); between me and Donna Kukama’s exhibition Ways-of-Remembering-Existing lay a sliding glass door whose ability to open and close could not be confidently predicted. Load shedding had played havoc with the usually reliable Wits backup electricity supply and thus with the automated entrance to WAM. The bemused security personnel told me they’d happily let me in but there was no guarantee that I’d be able to get out. I decided it was worth the risk. Such are the exigencies of living in South Africa. In fact, scratch that. Such is the state of perpetual uncertainty that comes with being alive anywhere in the world in 2022; all is precarious, it seems, unmoored, unstable. We Humanities academics love to theorise about this, of course. We talk about “radical contingency” and “epistemic insecurity”. Using apt words in deft ways can be quite reassuring – things somehow make more sense. But sometimes you just have to face the not-knowing. And here Kukama’s work is simultaneously provoking and consoling. Once the generators kicked in and WAM’s lights went back on, I approached Ways-of-Remembering-Existing via another exhibition in the central atrium: Her Eye on The Storm, a tribute to Gisèle Wulfsohn (1957-2011) curated by Beathur Mgoza Baker. Wulfsohn’s reportage and portrait photography may be situated in the familiar
South African representative mode of documentary realism. It is, in its own way, a form of sense-making, of framing and narrating, even if it does so through suggestion rather than overdetermined explanation. Kukama, by contrast, seeks to disrupt “existing narratives of history and traditional modes of storytelling”. In her research and creative practice as a doctoral candidate, as the text accompanying her exhibition affirms, she introduces texts and objects “whose grammar is opacity and ephemerality”. For Kukama, mutual understanding between writer and reader, or artist and viewer, is not a desirable end. She wants us to dwell in the discomfort of being unsure, of having meaning and clarity slip
away from us. This applies as much to her live performance art interventions as it does to the videos, paintings and sculptures that record, respond to or complement them. Performance art, in particular, resists answers to the questions that those who encounter it may pose. Why is she doing this? Who is it for? What does it mean? You can see these questions etched into the faces of those observing some of Kukama’s recorded performances. Her own expression, by contrast, remains silently stoical – in protest, in character, in earnest. Yet there is also something playful in the work of any performance artist. To the question, Why?, the artist answers, Why not? There must be something impish in the intervention – implying a series of questions posed by the artist and aimed at us in return: Why do you think I’m doing this? Who isn’t it for? What does it mean to you? And these questions, carefully considered, spur us towards introspection. We think anew about our public roles and private lives, the histories we have inherited, the way we see ourselves as citizens, our experiences of complicity and of freedom. In the end, I made it out of WAM easily enough. But I was better prepared for my next confrontation with the unknown and the uncertain – on Wits campus, on the streets of Johannesburg, or wherever epistemic insecurity may strike. See more: https://blankprojects.com/donna-Kukama
Chris Thurman is Professor in the English Department and Director of the Tsikinya-Chaka Centre (School of Literature, Language and Media) at Wits.
96 W I T S R E V I E W
From the archive
Colourisation: Brett Eloff
Nov ember 2022 97
Celebrating 100 years of a great institution
Your support is key to Wits remaining a national treasure For more information visit https://wits100.wits.ac.za/
SCAN HERE TO DONATE
Wits. For Good 98 W I T S R E V I E W