Wits Review April 2016

Page 1

April 2016 Volume 34

WITSReview The magazine for ALUMNI and friends of the University of the Witwatersrand


Carl & Emily Fuchs Foundation Top Achiever Award 2015 (MACE) Best External Magazine 2015 (MACE)

Wits improves in

World Rankings The QS World University Rankings by Subject for 2015/16 were announced on 22 March 2016. Wits has improved in 10 subjects that the QS World University Rankings measure according to a university’s six performance indicators: Academic reputation; student-to-faculty ratio; citations per faculty; employer reputation; international faculty ratio; and international student ratio.

one number in South Africa

Archaeology Engineering (Mineral & Mining) Dentistry

QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2016


Wits University has been ranked

in the rd world

in Alumni Outcomes*

* QS considered the educational background of over 20 000 highly influential employers, sector leaders, and award-winning professionals, as well as individual professionals to rank which universities are proving themselves as sources of successful employees and employers, and can claim to have positively influenced their alumni’s development.

Materials Science

Wits ranks internationally

TOP 14th Development Studies

50 TOP

100 Geography

Engineering Minerals & Mining Anthropology


Performance indicators for

QS subject rankings Academic reputation


Student-to-faculty ratio


Citations per faculty


Employer reputation


International faculty ratio


International student ratio





English Language & Literature Earth & Marine Sciences



Communication & Media Studies History Medicine Pharmacy & Pharmacology Politics & International Studies


Physics & Astronomy

Source: 2011-2016 QS Intelligence Unit (a division of QS Quacquarelli Symonds Ltd)



In our last issue we reported on the #FeesMustFall campaign and the various agreements that were reached with students as a result of their protest action. While there was an awareness that not all the demands had been met and that not all students were satisfied, there was general agreement in society that students at a national level had secured a victory for greater and more affordable access to university.

Investing in our universities There was great concern therefore when a new round

Fundraising initiatives such as the Wits SRC’s #Access

of increasingly violent protest action erupted on many

campaign and generous support from corporates

university campuses early in the new year. Wits was

and individual alumni have helped ameliorate the

spared from any disruption, but some universities

immediate plight of especially those students who

experienced such violent and destructive behaviour

do not qualify for financial aid based on the means

that some campuses had to close for a period of time.

test, but who nonetheless cannot afford a university

In an opinion piece published in the Sunday Times on


21 February 2016, Vice-Chancellors Professor Adam

An exciting new fundraising campaign aimed at

Habib and Rhodes University’s Dr Sizwe Mabizela

providing sustainable financial support for students

observed: “The current student protests on campuses

has also been initiated by the Forum of former

across our country are distinctly different from those

Wits SRC and Black Student Society Presidents. The

that we saw last year. The protesting communities no

Forum recently launched the South African Student

longer represent the non-racial, multi-class alliance

Solidarity Foundation for Education, a public benefit

that united the entire student community and mobilised the support of multiple stakeholders in our society. Instead, the protest movements have been

organisation that will raise funds for the holistic support of students in need.

hijacked by small groups that are using increasingly

Perhaps one outcome of the #FeesMustFall campaign

violent methods of protest … The modus operandi

is that South Africa will learn from the example of

of these groups has clearly changed from the broad

many of the most successful universities in the world

and diverse movement that united across race,

by increasingly relying on philanthropy rather than

class, culture and gender lines, to one that is highly

state funds to ensure both access and quality. One

politicised, downright violent and even racist.”

example is Harvard University, which has grown

While it appears that extremist offshoots from #FeesMustFall have since been isolated and that safety and security measures have now stabilised the university sector, there remain many unresolved issues

significant endowment funds over many decades and has now been able to announce that families with annual incomes of $65 000 or less will not pay anything towards the cost of a Harvard education.

that need to be addressed. Foremost among these is

Peter Maher

the issue of affordability of a university education.

Director: Alumni Relations

April 2016 | WITSReview | 1


Sylvia Glasser’s Threads, Fana Tshabalala, 2008










2 | WITSReview | April 2016














Editor: Peter Maher peter.maher@wits.ac.za Contributors: Heather Dugmore heather@icon.co.za Deborah Minors deborah.minors@wits.ac.za Kathy Munro katherine.munro@wits.ac.za Keyan G Tomaselli keyant@uj.ac.za Gail Gordon, Lana Jacobson & Lynda Murray Design & Layout: Nicole Sterling nicole.sterling@wits.ac.za Printing: Remata


Published by the Office of Alumni Relations, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Address: Private Bag 3, Wits, 2050, South Africa. Tel: +27 (0)11 717 1090 | Fax: 0864 064 146. E-mail: alumni@wits.ac.za Website: www.wits.ac.za/alumni Update contact details: www.wits.ac.za/alumni/updateyourdetails SUBSCRIPTIONS: International subscribers: R180 per annum Local subscribers: R100 per annum 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: F irst National Bank, Account No. 62077141580, Branch Code 255-005, Ref.No.1142 (+ your name) or by cash or credit card payment at the Alumni Office.

Saint Martin Swamps, Louisiana












WITSReview is published three times 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.

Carl & Emily Fuchs Foundation Top Achiever Award 2015 (MACE) Best External Magazine 2015, 2012 & 2010 (MACE) Best External Magazine 2014, 2013, 2012 & 2011 (SA Publication Forum)

Cover: Three in Green, Venice Carnival Photo by Dr Cyril Mazansky

April 2016 | WITSReview | 3




Universities’ role in Animal Farm society

Graduates against violence on campuses

Dear Editor,

Dear Editor,

Congratulations on another outstanding issue of WITSReview (December 2015). Although I did not find the new digital layout particularly user-friendly, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Thank you for the last WITSReview (December 2015). I would like through this forum to raise my voice as a graduate and long time staff member of Wits, against the violent nature of the protests at Wits and on other campuses. Violence begets further violence.

I’ve been thinking back to what the University gave me, 60 years ago; although I was a sports-mad, immature and an appalling student. Thinking of characters from literature that I most resemble, I settle on Winnie the Pooh, an amiable bear of little brain, and Boxer from Animal Farm, whose answer to any challenge was, “I must work harder”. I now realise that, without being aware of it, I was greatly enriched by Wits. I most enjoyed your editorial. A widely published photograph of the Vice-Chancellor kneeling at the feet of protesting students disturbed me; not only because it was Professor Habib, but because of the disrespect shown for his position. For many years there has been a strong anti-intellectual spirit among many. I thought your approach was balanced and thoughtful. The proper role of universities in society is not well understood. Mark Henning (BEd 1963, BA Hons 1956), Bryanston, Johannesburg

Wits stands for non-racialism, peaceful protest, the right of expression of a diversity of views, the preservation of the academic freedoms that were fought for with intensity in the past, university autonomy and a quality education for all who enrol. The issues of high fee increases, free higher education, and insourcing of outsourced services have become explosive and protest last year closed Wits for two weeks. This was regrettable. Protest action has returned this year and has escalated with more violent incidents. Physical violence against people who do not share specific views is shocking and the protection of life is top priority. People on campus must feel safe and in the right environment to study, teach and undertake research. There have been a couple of arson instances at Wits. The destruction of so-called colonial art works at UCT was for me terribly worrying as art is a creative unique expression, it can’t be replaced.

Burning it is one step away from book burning and recalls horrible parallels with what happened in Hitler’s Germany, but there are many other instances in history of conflagrations that set humanity back. I applaud the Vice-Chancellor in his many statements and his insistence on no violence or arson at Wits. I urge graduates to speak out against violence, arson and racism on campuses. I appeal to our community to continue to support Wits with funds to transform the lives and prospects of students, and back Wits’ many fabulous endeavours. Kathy Munro (BA 1967) Observatory, Johannesburg

Cool heads must prevail The Editor, I share with many South Africans concerns over the current conflicts at all the universities, and my Alma Mater in particular, and hope and pray, in spite of the significant challenges facing all the tertiary institutions, that cool heads will prevail and inspiration will enable academics, management, government and the thousands of students to negotiate and chart a constructive way forward, as all try to make sense out of the turbulence and seek to find a way meaningful way forward to build opportunities and skills for the generations ahead.

Erratum: The March 2015 WITSReview identifies Dr Hilton Selvey (MBBCh 1951) as a national swimming/water polo champion. Dr Selvey in fact never represented South Africa in any sport. WITSReview regrets the inaccuracy.

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#FeesMustFall cont.

There are many bright minds around the table to help navigate the turbulence and political influences and if some degree of trust can be established and patience exercised on all sides the eventual outcome will be to the benefit of all. Does anybody fully understand what is expected by way of “transformation” demanded of the tertiary institutions, what is possible to actually achieve, in what time frame, at what cost and with what resources?

Stamp of approval for late architect Pancho Guedes Dear Editor, Pancho Guedes has been one of the seminal forces in my life. I consider it a privilege to have learnt from, and later taught with him at Wits. We shared a mischievous sense of humour which bordered on the satirical, and our research report-back sessions often degenerated into uproarious and quite unrepeatable parodies about some of our more pompous colleagues. Eventually it was Pancho who forced me out of the cosy nest I was making for myself at Wits, something I resented at the time but which soon proved to be a correct decision. We lost touch then, meeting only a few times every year, but he always maintained an interest in my work, and I know that all my latest publications I was giving him were being passed on to the Wits architectural library.

I suspect the depth of anger and hurt will take many years to understand and for students to come to terms with, on all sides and across all racial and cultural groups. How do students negotiate different cultural differences and find the means to engage and open a discourse to understand and accept differences? The wilful destruction of University property and resources, that are sorely needed to open opportunities for the generations to come, will not solve these challenges.

At one stage, during my five-year stint as Head of Philately at the South African Post Office, the Mozambican Post Office and I began negotiations to feature Pancho’s work on a joint issue of stamps. Unfortunately the political climate proved unreceptive, and the project had to be abandoned. Pancho is, in my personal opinion, still the foremost architect of the 20th century to have been native to Southern Africa, and is the only one to date to have enjoyed an international reputation. Perhaps, now that he is gone, such a project could be resuscitated.

I wish all Wits staff and students strength, courage, patience and creative inspiration in seeking solutions to the challenges that must seem almost overwhelming at present. The University has faced, and overcome, many difficult challenges in its history and I am confident you will come to some constructive resolution sooner rather than later.

Dear Editor,

Sandy Van Esch (CTA 1972) Bedfordview, Johannesburg

Franco Frescura (BArch 1977, MArch 1981, PhD 1986) Westville, KwaZulu-Natal Ed’s note: An obituary for Pancho Guedes appears on page 59.

Tom and Arthur and Diabetes Mellitus

The fascinating but all too short interview with Professor Arthur Rubenstein in the March 2015 WITSReview calls forth additional encomiums. Not only, with his usual distinction, did he in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania occupy footwear with which William Osler was once shod, but other highly prestigious medical institutions in the United States had enjoyed Rubenstein’s multifarious talents. One relates here an accolade, privately expressed some decades ago: My encounter, either in the old Hillbrow Medical School or in the old “Gen”, with Professor Thomas H. Bothwell, prince of clinicians, then already a decades-long world authority on the metabolism of iron, saw Bothwell hurrying to hear the newly minted Rubenstein, on diabetes mellitus – an accolade expressing the humility of greatness. Mark N. Lowenthal (MBBCh 1957), Nordiya, Israel

April 2016 | WITSReview | 5


MAGICAL JOURNEYS AT FOUNDERS’ TEA Kate Turkington (MA 1976) was the guest speaker at the annual Founders’ Tea held on the Gavin Relly Green, West Campus on 19 November 2015. Kate is a travel writer, broadcaster and author. She regaled the 400 alumni present with tales of her magical journeys and hilarious recollections of her student days at Wits. A memorial booklet of RAG photographs that alumni submitted was on each table supplementing the RAG theme of the Tea. Alumni were invited to write down their Wits memories, a selection of which appears alongside. Following nationwide student protests in October 2015, Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib reassured alumni at the Tea of the University’s commitment to balancing the right to learn with the right to protest – as is the University’s historical legacy. Founders are alumni who graduated 40 or more years ago.

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Top: Deputy ViceChancellor Professor Tawana Kupe and guest speaker Kate Turkington Bottom left: Round-table reminiscing at Founders’ Tea Bottom right: Graham Richardson (HDip Tax Laws 1981) and his wife, Gaile


“The most enduring memory of Wits is how proud I was to be a Witsie and part of a great class learning engineering. That spirit has remained ever since.” Ivor Bailey (BSc Eng Civil 1962) “I loved my time at Wits in Women’s Res, where I met some lovely friends. We had wonderful lecturers and BA taught me to think and appreciate life. I also met my future husband here!” Pam Bailey (née Steele) (BA 1962) “RAG 1959. Engineering students blew up the bridge on the river Kwai at His Majesty’s in Commissioner Street – big trouble – traffic stopped – up before the VC on Monday morning. Let’s have a Kwai RAG.” Paul Taylor (BSc Eng Civil 1962) “Anti-apartheid protests, Wits vs. Tuks rugby game. Wonderful lectures; stimulation after a sheltered childhood. Great friendships, taught me to think! Married a Witsie.” Berna Foden (BSc 1967, BSc Hons 1970, MSc 1974)

“I remember with sadness the day we arrived at our Zulu lecture to learn that Mr Robert Sobukwe – our very charismatic, much-loved lecturer – had been detained. There was total disbelief followed by anger amongst the group.” Prue Nicolson (née Kingsley-Jones)

“I was a member of the South African Voluntary Services. We built schools and clinics in rural areas during holidays. It shaped my life and my friendships.” Barry Dwolatzky (BSc Eng Elec 1975) “I remember doing war cry practice at the swimming pool for Inter-Varsity Wits-Tuks.” Barbara Wentworth (BSc 1970)

Reminisce FOUNDERS’ TEA 2015

April 2016 | WITSReview | 7


HIGHLAND FLING FOR ALUMNI IN EDINBURGH Wits and the University of Edinburgh have formalised a research partnership. Edinburgh’s Centre of African Studies and Wits’ African GETTY IMAGES

Centre for Migration and Society launched the Security at the Margins (SeaM) project at the Edinburgh College of Art on 5 February


2016. The SeaM project explores the

Herzliya Pituach – Nine Wits Medical School graduates of the

of marginality in urban South Africa. Wits

class of 1955 reunited for the first time in Israel at the Tavola Restaurant on 31 October 2015. Convener Dr Neil Schwartz (MBBCh 1955) welcomed alumni to their 60th anniversary and noted that Dr David Gruebel Lee (MBBCh 1955) had travelled all the way from England. Wits’ convener in Israel, Dr Les Glassman (BSc 1979, BDS 1984), encouraged alumni to reminisce and recorded the proceedings.

strategies individuals use to negotiate forms alumna Dr Jo Vearey (PhD 2010) curated an exhibition entitled Queer Crossings as part of the launch. Dr Barbara Bompani, who spent time at Wits during her PhD, and Professor James Smith (MSc 1998, PhD 2001) invited Witsies in Scotland to attend. There are approximately 80 Witsies in Scotland. Those who attended proved a lively addition and

Herzlia – “Mandela and the Jewish community” was the

socialised late into the night. Prof. Smith is

theme of an event held at Beth Protea on 11 August 2015.

Vice-Principal International at Edinburgh and

Wits Alumni in Israel, Truth be Told, and Telfed co-organised

the Wits alumni convener there.

the event, which His Excellency, the South African Ambassador Sisa Ngombane attended. Wits’ convener in Israel, Les Glassman (BSc 1979, BDS 1984), and Lyn Lochoff (BA 1973), Director of Beth Protea, addressed guests and Marlene Bethlehem, former Chairman of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies shared recollections of her relationship with the late Nelson Mandela (honorary LLD 1991). Jerusalem – Wits’ convener in Israel, Dr Les Glassman (BSc 1979, BDS 1984), Telfed and the Jewish National Fund hosted an event at the Jewish Agency Building on 12 May 2015. Colonel Richard Kemp, CBE, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, and Isla Feldman, Director of the South African Zionist Federation, were guest speakers. In his address, Dr Glassman acknowledged the statements of Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib and Convocation President Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng to the former SRC President’s pro-Hitler comments. Glassman said, “Equality is the hallmark that makes us Witsies proud!”



Back L-R: Errol Hackner, Alan Richards, Otto Thaning, Des Fernandes, John Hodkinson, Keith Marks, David Lipschitz, Alan Menter. Middle L-R: Heather Crewe-Brown, Eric Cohen, John Hyde, Ian Gross, Michael Eliastam, Basil Porter, John Hyde, Rob Jacobson, Ruth Safier (Nathanson), Norman Silverman, Eric Faerber, Alan Reichman. Front L-R: Arthur Bass, Patti Suzman, Roger Rosenberg, Mike Belman, Roy First, Justin Silver, Ryan Kramer, Mary Edginton.

CLASS OF ’66 BOLSTER PV TOBIAS FUND The Wits Medical School class of 1966 reunited in Johannesburg for their 50th anniversary. The reunion, from February 1–3, combined a fundraising dinner, talks and tours. The class raised R530 000 ($34 682) for the PV Tobias Fund. Dr Mary Hodkinson (MBBCh 1966, MSc Med 1990, PhD 1999) and Professor Michael Eliastam (MBBCh 1966) convened the three-day itinerary. Alumni enjoyed a tour of the archaeological site Drimolen, led by Dr Colin Menter (PhD 2003), son of Dr Alan Menter (MBBCh 1966), and alumni then enjoyed two nights in a game reserve. Back on campus, Dr Martin Smith (MBBCh 1982) delivered a talk on health politics in South Africa. A memorial for deceased alumni preceded cocktails and dinner at the Adler Museum of Medicine, culminating in an after-dinner address by Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Professor Martin Veller (MBBCh 1979, MMed 1990).

April 2016 | WITSReview | 9


Markets ebb and flow, but one constant that Naspers Chair Koos Bekker understands is that people need to connect with one another and the world.

A future for a very different world


“Communication technology has transformed the globe in two short decades,” he says. “For example: of the businesses that Naspers currently operates in 130 countries, about 98% by value did not exist when I graduated with an LLB from Wits in 1978. In the 1980s came pay TV, in the 1990s cell phones. The internet was invented when I was in my forties, and today it’s our main business. These days one has to learn on the hoof and the pace of innovation is quickening, not slowing.”

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April 2016 | WITSReview | 11

BRAVE NEW WORLD Uncanny ability to anticipate the future With an uncanny ability to anticipate the future and adapt, he headed for China in 1997 to invest in communication technology long before China became a business destination. Four years later, Naspers hit the jackpot when it invested US$32-million in a Chinese internet company called Tencent. Its stake has soared to US$66-billion today, the most valuable investment Naspers ever made. Despite this, Bekker is not especially concerned


about China’s current economic slowdown. “This year China is growing at a slower pace than its own average for the past three decades, but that’s still faster than the United States or Europe,” he explains.

Chinese slowdown “The slowdown does not really affect us because it hit construction and manufacturing hardest, while Tencent provides consumer services, focusing on instant messaging, online games (such as League of Legends), video and entertainment portals, which continue to grow.” Tencent now generates the fourth largest revenue stream of internet companies worldwide. “A growing field for us is e-commerce, where Tencent invested in services like JD (which resembles Amazon), taxi-hailing apps (like Uber), and offline-to-online commerce services.” What people outside China often miss, he adds, is that it is no come-lately. China was the biggest economy for most of the past 2 000

Sitting in the bath “It’s a long-term commitment. When markets struggle, it’s worth reminding oneself while sitting in the bath that it does not matter at all what the share price is doing tomorrow, but it does matter a great deal what it’s doing five years hence.” At the age of 62 Bekker has plenty of bathtubs from which to gain perspective. He has homes in a number of countries and is constantly travelling the world, mobile office in hand. His physical office at Naspers’ headquarters in Cape Town is on the 17th floor of a landmark overlooking the harbour, but the internet and e-commerce world has no fixed geographical space; the office is everywhere.

Not afraid of risk or failure

years. Only from the 18th century to the end

He is constantly on the lookout for new

of the 20th century did it lose that position.

opportunities and he is not afraid of risk or

Recognising that China was likely to resume its

failure. “Failure is often useful. After all, when

pre-eminence, Bekker took the decision to invest

you succeed all you learn is how smart you are,”

in ICT businesses there 17 years ago.

he explains.

12 | WITSReview | April 2016


“When you fail, you might possibly learn to improve yourself. Before Tencent, for example, our first three investments in China were flops, then the internet bubble burst in 2000 and the market collapsed. We lost all our money, which is remarkably easy in the fast-moving internet space. After all, some 90% of start-ups in this sector fail within 18 months. But then we fixed our defects and the next round worked out.” In Bekker’s world “a gun to the head concentrates the mind admirably”.

Heavily invested in e-commerce Naspers today is heavily invested in e-commerce, especially in classifieds, where it is one of three world leaders. “But investing in this sector requires patience,” he adds. “It’s no get-richquick business.” What certainly helps is that his wits are attuned to punting futuristically, as indicated by his Forbes listing amongst Africa’s richest. He has as a string of lucrative startup communication technology investments to his name, including M-Net, MultiChoice and being a founder of mobile technology giant MTN. Both Naspers and Bekker made substantial profits from this. “I’ve been fortunate, but in business your fortune can change in five minutes. Only quick adapters will survive long-term, which is why Naspers will continue to invest in emerging markets, try new technologies and seek out young entrepreneurs with ambitions whom we can back.”

MY LLB AT WITS “After a BA Law and an Honours in Literature at Stellenbosch University, I joined Wits in 1976 for an LLB. I sought a contrast to Stellenbosch, where I was editor of the student newspaper, which was then at odds with the National Party youth wing on the right. “Wits offered a progressive metropolitan experience in a vibrant city during the politically turbulent 1970s. I loved the diversity of views. “Wits had much less of a ‘res’ character than Stellenbosch. Unlike the latter or Cambridge or Yale, Wits does not dominate a town. It’s more like Columbia University in New York, where I studied later: a university at the heart of a metropolitan jungle, breathing and heaving with the city sounds all around. “While at Wits, I studied by day and translated TV dramas at night. That was the start of a journey that later took me to the US and eventually to the launch of M-Net in 1986. “Curiously, one often makes one’s lifelong friends at university. I guess you’re too immature still at school, too rigid or preoccupied with the rat race later. University seems to be the ideal moment to link to lifelong friends.”

April 2016 | WITSReview | 13



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At a glance Q&A with Koos Bekker


How do you keep balanced? I’m quite poor at balance – I find work a lot more entertaining than social chitchat.

What does money mean to you?

These are big achievements. However, most recently, our economic trends turned sharply negative. We have enterprising people and one of the most beautiful countries in the world, so if we address this trend with a sense of urgency and manage our economy well,

A little bit of money buys freedom. But not

there is no reason why we cannot prosper.

that much is needed to live well.

Should Mandarin be taught at schools in South Africa?

In what way do you think you are useful to society?

Yes, without a doubt. Naspers helped establish

Our group created tens of thousands of jobs

the first department of Mandarin at a South

in the new South Africa. We also innovated

African university, today the Confucius Institute at

with technologies like the decoder, of which

Stellenbosch. Any local child who manages to master

R6-billion worth have been exported. We

Mandarin has acquired a useful skill. Learning the

helped create pay TV and and we helped

language not only helps us communicate with people

launch cellular telephony here. Now we’re

in one of the top two economies globally, it also

crafting a range of internet services, including

teaches us quite a bit about Chinese culture, including

News24 and OLX.

dinner etiquette, history and the way to do business: it’s an exciting, fascinating culture.

What do you think about South Africa today?

How is business done in China?

Under Madiba the post-1994 South Africa

By comparison, in the US one can easily conclude a

started building some sense of common

major long-term contract without ever eating with

destiny. That seems to be unravelling. We

your counterpart. Good luck if you try this in China:

haven’t yet achieved a ‘we’ society – where

there, you first have to establish trust. This is best

all feel valued and included. Clearly, we need

done by spending time together and sharing a meal

to evolve a society where people are not

where famous Chinese dishes are served.

classified by race. A good public school system

What’s your favourite Chinese dish?

is the most efficient equaliser. But our worst performance as a country is a dysfunctional

Up North: Beijing kaoya (Peking duck). I’m also partial

school system. So there’s work to do.

to the clean steamed fish dishes of Guangdong in the

What do you think about South Africa’s economy?

I must add that Chinese red wines have markedly

South Africa has grown at a real average of 3.1% since 1994, which is better than the

South and the spicy stuff from Sichuan in the West. improved over the past decade.

What can South Africa learn from China?

Eurozone or the US. Looked at differently:

One of the interesting features there is that civil

about half the wealth in South Africa today

servants are often highly qualified and most efficient.

(thus all the shares, property, cash) was

They make it clear that foreign investment in China is

created since 1994, post-apartheid.

welcome and they are very helpful to new investors.

April 2016 | WITSReview | 15




love universities and being around young

“Many universities seem perplexed how to respond.

people, which is why I lectured at a few

Some, like MIT in the United States, go online in

places from Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia to

hearty fashion, hoping to build out a global brand and

Maastricht to Nanjing.

one day to figure out how to earn income from this

“It’s remarkable how Asian students are more ambitious than Western ones – in China students will mob you after the lecture, each punting their business concept. European students in general have a less burning drive to succeed and some start talking about the weekend on Wednesday.

The future is in transition “As for the future of universities worldwide, it’s in transition. In the past you went to university for three to seven years, and loaded up on knowledge that you then applied in the world outside for the rest of your

model. On the other hand institutes like Oxford do the opposite: avoid online and emphasise the unique benefits of their traditional face-to-face tutorial system.

Restructure to compete “The jury is out, but I suspect lots of universities will go under rather than make the transition, and restructure the way they operate to compete with other higher learning institutions. They need to offer more short courses to meet the ongoing need for new skills, which is also a wonderful opportunity for universities to retain students over the long term.

life. That model is now breaking down in a world

“Universities also need to offer far more blended

where fast innovation compels us to retrain ourselves

learning and online study options to meet the

every few years.

growing demand for higher education, and to be

“The present-day university emerged out of the monasteries of the Middle Ages and retains many of the old titles and habits. This conservative foundation is not well suited to the new pace of innovation.

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able to offer access to students wherever they are situated. Geography will no longer provide protection to universities as higher education options become increasingly available online.”

WHAT’S ON 30 AUGUST – 4 SEPTEMBER 2016 2016 Health Sciences Reunion & Gala Dinner Faculty of Health Sciences, Wits University All Health Sciences graduates from around the globe are invited to reunite with classmates, lecturers and their alma mater to reminisce and renew friendships. The reunion will also celebrate and honour the following special anniversary classes: 2006, 1996, 1991, 1986, 1981, 1976, 1971, and 1966. The preliminary programme includes visits to the Adler Museum of Medicine, the Anatomy Museum, Wits Art Museum, Origins Centre, Institute of Evolutionary Studies (formerly Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research), and the Phillip V Tobias Health Sciences Building, among others. There will be cocktails and dinner at the revamped Wits Club and talks that include the AJ Orenstein Memorial lecture and various research topics. Email your interest in attending to HGA President, Dr Paul Davis, paulusd@me.com


5 – 8 AUGUST 2016 A Festschrift to honour Prof. Michael Kew | South African Gastroenterology Society (SAGES) Congress Council for Scientific & Industrial Research The Gastroenterology Foundation of South Africa will recognise eminent alumnus Professor Michael Kew by hosting a Festschrift symposium on liver cancer and viral hepatitis on Monday 8 August. Confirmed international speakers at the symposium include Dr Adrian Di Bisceglie (USA), Professor Geoff Dusheiko (UK), Dr Jay Hoofnagle (USA), and Dr Massimo Pinzani (UK). The symposium forms part of the SAGES congress from 5–8 August. All interested alumni are welcome to attend. Details: Karin Fenton, karin.fenton@uct.ac.za

18 – 20 OCTOBER 2016 Biennial Wits Medical School Alumni Reunion Hotel Contessa, San Antonio, Texas, USA The reunion, which will honour the Class of 1966’s 50th anniversary, is open to all Medical graduates but attendance is limited to 80 guests.

Alumni Networking Event with guest speaker Arthur Goldstuck, MD WorldWideWorx

Details: Dr Martin Coleman, mcolman@utmb.edu

Technology Trends Shaping the Next Decade

Founders’ Tea

Wits Club, West Campus, Wits Time: 09:00 | Cost: R100 per person Details: purvi.purohit@wits.ac.za | 011 717 1093

Guest speaker: The Public Protector, advocate Thuli Madonsela (LLB 1991) Gavin Relly Green, West Campus, Wits Details: purvi.purohit@wits.ac.za | 011 717 1093

17 NOVEMBER 2016

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Moving bodies, changing lives Back in 1977, one year after South Africa’s Soweto Riots, dancer and choreographer Sylvia Glasser and her husband Professor David Glasser were on sabbatical in Houston, Texas.


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outh Africans of all races were fearful about developments in the country at that time and many

families emigrated, mostly to Canada, the UK and Australia. David, a Professor of Chemical Engineering at Wits, was offered a job in Houston but the couple felt strongly that South Africa had given them so much that they were compelled to return and make a worthwhile contribution to their country of birth. Sylvia was already a celebrated teacher and choreographer, having studied dance for almost five years at the London College of Dance and Drama in the early 1960s and completed a diploma course there, as well as an MA in Dance from the University of Clear Lake City in Houston and a BA degree at Wits. On their return from the USA Sylvia decided to start a nonracial dance company, teaching from her garage, and in 1978 she founded Moving into Dance (MID). Funding was non-existent. The whole family was involved: David recorded music, made the sets, photographed the dances, took videos and worked with sound during performances. (He went on to become chairman of MID

1983 MID company Great Hall. Photo Nan Melville

as a non-profit organisation.)

April 2016 | WITSReview | 19

SYLVIA GLASSER Their daughter Nadine danced with

The performances garnered rave

the company for two years and their

reviews in some quarters, but were

son Benjamin worked backstage from

scorned in others. Awards for Sylvia’s

the age of 15, until they too joined the

work and her protégés’ choreography

family tradition of graduating from Wits,

and dance flowed

with honours in Computer Science and

in. She empowered

an MSc in Chemical Engineering, later

and transformed the

receiving PhDs respectively in Australia

lives of hundreds of

and the USA.

performers, teachers,

It was risky at the time to teach racially mixed classes. However, Sylvia openly stated: “My work was, and is, implicitly

choreographers and leaders in the dance community.

and explicitly political, and a total

Moving into Dance also

contradiction to apartheid. I was using

performed regularly

African dance aesthetics, ritual and music

at the celebrated

mixed with Western contemporary dance

Dance Umbrella, which

forms, which I later called Afrofusion.”

raised the standard of

Black dancers often slept at the Glassers’ Johannesburg home as it was dangerous for them to travel at night, and this compounded the risk of arrest for the Glassers and the dancers.

contemporary dance in South Africa. This too was a nonracial and free platform for the company to present its work. It promoted

In 1981 the first mixed dance

young choreographers

performance was held at Wits Great

from MID and

Hall. There were three black dancers and

helped launch their

eight white dancers. In later years all the

international careers.

dancers were black. During the 1980s and early 1990s MID was a platform for black and white people to come together to break down barriers of apartheid.

Towards the end of the 1980s Sylvia enrolled at Wits for a threeyear course in social

Funding trickled in from mining

anthropology. “I wanted

companies and some banks, and

to know more about

with the support of the Students

socio-cultural activities

Representative Council (SRC) MID

and my lecturers and

performed at Wits for 10 years. Sylvia

mentors were the late

reminisces, “I loved my time at Wits. The

David Hammond-Tooke,

SRC enabled me to produce work which

the late David Webster,

I couldn’t do elsewhere. My audience

who was assassinated

were students and lecturers.”

while I was a student, and Professor David Lewis-Williams.”

20 | WITSReview | April 2016


MOVING INTO DANCE Sylvia then established a full-time MID Community Dance Teachers Training Course and an Edudance Outreach programme in under-resourced schools. She developed the methodology to teach academic subjects and social issues through dance. She has written 10 academic papers that have been presented at international conferences, and published in international journals and books. “A landmark in my development was a work called Tranceformations, inspired by San trance dancing and rock art. I was guided by Prof. LewisWilliams’ interpretation of rock art. “I felt one of the important things I managed to achieve was to mentor and develop the talent of underprivileged choreographers, performers and teachers who became internationally famous, such as Gregory Maqoma and Vincent Mantsoe,” says Sylvia. In 1998, when Moving into Dance celebrated its 20th anniversary, in a book titled 20 Years Moving Into Dance Mophatong, Judge Albie Sachs wrote: “We South Africans are good at doing 1983 PHOTO NAN MELVILLE

the impossible. We are not so good at doing the ordinary. Moving into Dance has done the impossible and by their very triumph helped to make the unreachable ordinary.

April 2016 | WITSReview | 21

SYLVIA GLASSER 1998 MID, Passage of Rites. Photos John Hogg “They started with virtually no facilities. They were largely a raw and untutored mix of people from totally divided backgrounds, frightened by history from establishing physical and rhythmic contact. They built up an audience unique in South Africa, one which, unlike other audiences for the other performing arts, cheers and stamps and expresses its enthusiasm with energy and engagement.” Under Sylvia’s guidance, a flow of formerly historically disadvantaged, impoverished, untrained dancers flourished and made their mark in the international arena, while MID as a professional dance company also toured Africa, Europe, Canada, the USA and Malaysia. “A highlight for me was being selected as Artistic Director of the South African dance contingent of 35 performers for EXPO 2000 in Hanover Germany,” she says. Sylvia’s more recent works, such as Blankets of Shame, deal with urban violence, stigma and denial in relation to rape, paedophilia and AIDS; in 2008 she collaborated with the acclaimed poet Lebo Mashile in creating Threads, a multidisciplinary work which garnered high praise. It dealt with Sylvia’s focus on gender, socio-political issues and identity. A review in the Sowetan called it “history in the making”. Business Day described it as “powerful but deeply lyrical”. And The Star said: “Threads, with its themes of Afro pessimism and its stand on abuse against women and children, has enormous potential to be just as ground-breaking as Glasser’s Tranceformations and Blankets of Shame.” In 2013, after nearly 36 years, Sylvia retired from her active role in MID, but the company continues on the firm foundations she laid. In 2014 she was awarded a knighthood in the Order of Oranje-Nassau on behalf of the King of the Netherlands for “her contribution to democracy (during and after apartheid), cultural co-operation between South Africa and the Netherlands, education and the arts, especially her commitment to the training of young dancers of all races.” She is now writing a book titled Tranceformations and going with her husband on an extended trip to Sydney, Australia to join Nadine and their granddaughters. 2008 MID, Blankets of Shame, Luyanda Sidiya & Sonia Radebe

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AWARDS AND HONOURS 1995 FNB Vita Dance Umbrella Choreographer of the Year

1997 MID Mophatong FNB Vita Special Achievement Award for “developing a uniquely South African voice in contemporary choreography and dance acknowledged both here and abroad”

1998 & 2008 named as one of the Top 100 People in The Star newspaper

2000 FNB Special Award as “one of South Africa’s national cultural treasures, a remarkable social activist whose exceptional work in specifically African dance changes lives, perceptions and the face of South African dance”

2004 Lifetime Achievement award from the Arts and Culture Trust

2014 Knighthood in the Order of Oranje-Nassau 2014 Sylvia Glasser, Netherlands Knighthood Photo John Hogg

April 2016 | WITSReview | 23


Thinking about

Gifting in Africa BY DEBORAH MINORS



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RESEARCHING PHILANTHROPY Prof. Alan Fowler Chair in African Philanthropy

“A critical research theme will start to explore endogenous philanthropy, or gifting, across subSaharan Africa,” he says. Gifting is an age-old practice in Africa and plays a central role within communities across the continent and the Diaspora. The notion of philanthropy refers to the love of humanity, a moral philosophy manifest across Africa as ubuntu (“a person is a person through other people”). The Southern Africa Trust helps civil society

The objective is to create a

research, academic and teaching focus around the production and publication of knowledge on gifting and its many roles within African societies. The Southern African Trust is the partner organisation. After living many years in

organisations participate in policy dialogue so as to

The Wits Business School has launched an initiative bringing African philanthropy to the continent as a field of research and learning. A Chair in African Philanthropy, the first of its kind on the continent, will lead the process. The Ford Foundation funded the start-up of the Chair, which Visiting Professor Alan Fowler will initially occupy.

African countries, Professor Alan Fowler is currently Emeritus Professor, Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University, The Hague. He is British and speaks English, Dutch and Swahili. He has been actively involved in both the theory and practice of international development, concentrating on civil society organisations. His expertise span politics and

give impetus to the voices of the poor. Executive Director Dr Bhekinkosi Moyo regards philanthropy as the new paradigm in development, but equally values investment in education. “We have learnt the importance of practising philanthropy and studying it,” he says. “Integrating theory and practice ensures there is a link between resources, their utilisation, and the needs of Africans – this is why the Chair was established.”

The Chair links the private sector and personal giving with educational programmes, and with critical areas in the African economic and political landscape that provide additional opportunities to achieve sustainable development.

political-economy; the design, organisation and

Professor Steve Bluen, Director of Wits Business

management of non-profit organisations involved

School, says, “Our mission is to create the academic,

in development; rural extension; vocational training;

research, leadership and character excellence

adult education; and electronic engineering.

conditions that nurture graduates who achieve

Professor Fowler, a self-confessed “pracademic”, will move away from practical consulting to concentrate on research and writing as the incumbent Chair in

beyond themselves as Africa’s leaders, in business and in society. This Chair fits perfectly with who we are as an institution and what we aim to achieve in Africa.”

African Philanthropy.

April 2016 | WITSReview | 25


Rogue genes & heart attacks When a 21-year-old woman died under his care from her fifth heart attack, Dr Evan Stein began researching and then described the frequency of inherited high cholesterol – familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). It affects one in 70 Afrikaners and is also prevalent among Jewish and Indian South Africans. In December 2015, Dr Stein funded the establishment of an FH facility at Wits.


26 | WITSReview | April 2016 GETTY IMAGES



Evan Stein (pronounced “stine”, not “stain”) carries a recognisable South African accent beneath an occasional American twang that’s developed since his emigration in 1974. He was born in Zimbabwe and came to study medicine at Wits in 1965.

“I didn’t want to go where everyone else went,” he says. “UCT was Rhodesia-by-the-sea!” This and Wits’ rugby tradition enticed him. He played prop in Wits under-20A. “I was two inches taller then and about the same weight, but it was differently distributed then…” he says. Weighty matters – specifically lipids (fats) and cholesterol metabolism – would define Stein’s career. He graduated MBBCh in 1970 and then


seminal incidents during his internship set the trajectory for his life’s work. “A 21-year-old girl with a severe and rare form of inherited high cholesterol died under my care a month into my internship,” says Stein. “A month later, I was caring for a 28-year-old man with a heart attack, who also had FH. These incidents provided a lifelong interest in cholesterol metabolism.” In 1972, Stein, then 25, established the first lipid clinic in South Africa. His mentor, Professor John Hansen (honorary PhD 1997), facilitated the establishment of the Familial Lipid Disorders Centre located in the Transvaal Memorial Hospital for Children. Professor Dennis Mendelsohn (BSc 1949, BSc Hon 1950, MBBCh 1954, DMed 1963) at the South African Institute of Medical Research and Professor Issy Berson provided laboratory space and research funding. “They made it possible to turn this initial interest into a real research career.” Stein served as clinician-in-charge at the lipid clinic until 1974. Then he went to McMaster University Medical Center in Canada to specialise in Medical Biochemistry. In 1977, he moved to the USA to take up the post of Director of the Chemical Pathology Division at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. He was also appointed to the Department of Internal Medicine and had a patient practice in the Lipid Research Center.

April 2016 | WITSReview | 27


Over the last four decades he has investigated and

“I identified the high frequency of FH in the Afrikaner

researched cholesterol-lowering treatments. He was

population, mostly by screening for high cholesterol

one of the initial investigators to study statins and

in cord blood from the placenta of newborn babies,”

carried out the first human clinical trials for the latest

he says. “The frequency I came up with was one in

and most effective drugs, PCSK9 inhibitors.

66. It took two years of arguing with an external

In 1987 he left the University of the Cincinnati as a tenured full professor and established three companies: the Cholesterol Treatment Center; the Christ Hospital Cardiovascular Research Center for

examiner who said this was nonsense – the recognised frequency for FH around the world was one in 500 at the time. Over the years further data came out confirming one in 70 in the Afrikaner population.”

clinical trials; and Medical Research Laboratories,

“If we didn’t have cholesterol, we wouldn’t survive,”

a central lab for clinical trials conducted by the

says Stein. “It’s a brick in the wall of every human

pharmaceutical industry and the National Institutes

cell. Every cell has the enzymes required to make

of Health. Stein sold it to Pharmaceutical Products

cholesterol, but most is made in the liver and

Development Inc in 2002.

transported through the blood stream to other cells.”

“My wife, Lindsay Stein, PhD, [née Smith] (BA Honours

So what is the role of cholesterol in causing heart

Speech & Hearing Therapy 1972), was closely involved

disease? It all comes down to how cholesterol is

in the Cardiovascular Research Center,” says Stein.

transported through the blood stream.

In the 1990s, Stein started other companies serving

Oil tankers, faulty ports, and a misguided captain

the pharmaceutical industry and mostly related to cholesterol metabolism and diabetes. In 1992 he and a colleague established Medpace, which provides clinical trial management services. In 1995 he formed the Metabolic & Atherosclerosis Research Center. In 2015, he and Dr August Troendle, the Chief Executive of Medpace, established LIB Therapeutic, a biotech pharmaceutical company that develops drugs for cholesterol treatment.

A PhD about FH causing heart attacks

“Think of cholesterol as oil and the liver as the Middle East,” explains Stein. “Although the world can make its own energy, we depend on production in the Middle East. Cholesterol is oil and can’t be transported on its own through the blood stream because blood is water-based, meaning the oil will separate, float because it’s lighter, and stick to solid surfaces. “Just as oil tankers transport oil through the ocean, we have ‘tankers’ called LDL [low density lipoprotein].

Throughout his entrepreneurial ventures, Stein

Our LDL tankers have a water soluble protein shell

continued in academia. He was a voluntary professor

and carry cholesterol inside. The LDL moves safely

at the University of Cincinnati until 2015, and still

through the blood stream after being loaded with

teaches and lectures extensively in the USA and

cholesterol and instructions to transport it to various

abroad as a visiting professor. He has published nearly

cholesterol-needing cells. These cells have special ports

300 papers in peer-reviewed journals and carries a

or terminals, called LDL receptors. The protein coating

Hirsch index of 77 with over 31 000 citations. While at

on the LDL tanker acts like the captain. It exchanges

Wits his research on inherited high cholesterol earned

signals with the LDL receptor and, if all is okay, ‘docks’

him a PhD in 1981.

and safely offloads its cholesterol and other contents.

28 | WITSReview | April 2016




“Just as oil serves no purpose during transport through the ocean, cholesterol has no purpose while being transported in the blood stream. However, when LDL tankers accumulate and stay too long in the

If YOU have FH

your CHILDREN have a 50% chance of inheriting FH

blood stream, the cholesterol leaks out, then infiltrates and damages the arteries – similar to when a rusty oil tanker ruptures, releases its oil and damages the environment. This is why LDL is sometimes called bad cholesterol. “In FH the most common defect is in the terminal, the LDL receptor, which is under genetic control. FH causes genetic defects that affect the construction of the LDL receptor and impair its off-loading of cholesterol. If the LDL tankers aren’t cleared (which starts at birth in those with FH), they accumulate in the blood stream and eventually release cholesterol, which blocks the arteries and causes a heart attack.”

The rogue gene FH is the commonest inherited disease in the world associated with significant morbidity and mortality (disease and death). It affects one in 250 or 30-million people worldwide. In South Africa, in the Afrikaner, Jewish and Indian populations, it’s even more

There’s a 50/50 chance that first degree relatives – brother, sister, father, mother or child – will have FH as it is not gender specific. “If you’re unfortunate enough to inherit two rogue genes, one from each parent, you will have no functioning ports or LDL receptors at all,” says Dr Stein. “Soon after birth, LDL cholesterol is extremely high and deposited everywhere – in skin, tendons and eyes. It can lead to very early heart disease and death as young as two or three years old.”

The Evan Stein Centre for FH at Wits In 2013 Stein and Professor Frederick Raal (MBBCh 1981, MMed1991, PhD 2000) conceived a programme to detect and treat FH. Raal is an endocrinologist and runs the lipid clinic Stein established in Johannesburg 45 years ago.

common: one in 70 to one in 100 – the highest in the

In December 2015, the Wits Council approved the

world. The reason? A rogue gene.

establishment of the Evan Stein FH Centre, made

“It’s because of the gene founder effect,” explains Stein. “A few of South Africa’s early immigrants in the 1600s stepped off a boat from Holland or France with that gene, and because early settlers lived in isolated

possible by a $460 000 donation from Stein and a $750 000 endowment from the University of Pennsylvania that Stein enabled, related to work they had done together.

communities for many years, the rogue genes spread

Stein concludes, “This is a way for me to contribute

quite widely.”

here where funding for FH research is limited.”

April 2016 | WITSReview | 29


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Climbing Mountains, Changing Capitalism Nic Kohler, Wits alumnus (BSc 1993) and the CEO of the Hollard Insurance Group, talks to Heather Dugmore about alpine challenges and the need for business and capitalism to change. BY HEATHER DUGMORE

April 2016 | WITSReview | 31



e all know that accident and

“Accidents are an important part of learning and

health insurance is only really

building skills. Admittedly small accidents are better

tested in complex, bizarre

than big ones but I believe in perseverance, and

situations – and who better to

in getting right back on that horse or bicycle and

attest to this than Nic Kohler.

climbing the next mountain,” he says.

Over tea in his office at Hollard Insurance’s head office

Perseverance and hard work run in the blood of this

in Parktown, Joburg – a stately complex with Herbert

third generation Witsie, who was a resident of Ernest

Baker buildings and giant old jacaranda trees lining

Oppenheimer Hall in the late 1980s/early 1990s when

the driveway – he shares the following story:

he studied statistics and actuarial science.

“Halfway through Day 6, on a steep, treacherous descent, I went too fast and landed up flying off the edge of a cliff. I fell only a short distance, but the handlebars sliced open my stomach and thigh muscles.” Kohler is describing what happened in 2012 during the Italian leg of the Transalp Mountain Bike Stage Race across the Alps. This is one of the toughest mountain bike races in the world. He had to be airlifted to an Italian hospital by helicopter. The handlebars missed his femoral artery by less than a centimetre. If it had been severed he would not be here to tell the tale. If he hadn’t been comprehensively covered for this extreme kind of emergency … well, he was. “The main trauma was not being able to finish the race,” he smiles. “And when I got back to work of course I had to put up with endless ribbing from my colleagues about whether I was competent to be running an insurance business, for which sound risk management is critical.” These days he’s slightly more wary of vertical descents but nothing will keep him off his mountain bike or away from that monster of mountain bike races, the Cape Epic. It’s also much closer to his home in Joburg and excellent medical care.

32 | WITSReview | April 2016

“In 1989 there was plenty of police action on campus. They would frequently use teargas to disperse crowds of students calling for Mandela’s release, which, as we know, happened in February 1990,” explains Kohler, who chaired the first non-racial house committee at EOH in 1991.

PROFILE Everyone on campus felt the gravitas of the era, but there was also plenty of youthful folly, and Kohler admits that he “may have run through the streets of Hillbrow with very little clothing on and frightened the life out of the fish in the Wartenweiler Library fountain.” As he speaks, the different tones of his personality joust for position. The side of him that believes you shouldn’t take yourself too seriously sprinkles the conversation with playful anecdotes, but his deeply respectful, responsible core being moves to centre stage every time. There is no doubt the fish in the fountain can also attest that he put in serious hours of study in order to graduate. And to get where he is in his profession he has continued working


extremely hard for 24 years, 19 of which have been with Hollard. “The knowledge, wisdom and belief that we all have the power to change things that seem unmovable, all of which I gained during my time at Wits, has enabled me to contribute, through Hollard, to a more sustainable society, and a work environment where people can thrive,” says Kohler, who strongly believes that capitalism and business need to change. “There is no doubt in my mind that the extraction mindset of business as we know it, and the capitalist system within which we currently operate, are unsustainable. This form of capitalism, which seeks to maximise shareholder wealth above all else, created the global financial crisis of 2008 and the subsequent increase in unemployment,

Nic on the Transalp Mountain Bike Stage Race across the Alps

social unrest and austerity measures. “If we don’t start to embrace the concept of a more conscious form of capitalism, if we don’t accept the responsibility of helping to address inequality and becoming more constructive contributory members of society, then I fear we will all become the helpless observers of an unravelling.”

April 2016 | WITSReview | 33


He explains that in South Africa, where the


unemployment rate is between 25% and 37% and where 53% of youth are unemployed, companies need to rethink their role in society, both in terms of the business they do and the way in which they do business. “While there is no doubt that the profit motive is a critical part of business, it cannot be the sole measure of a company’s success. Performance indicators must also measure how a company is contributing to building social capital, human capital and environmental capital.” Kohler adds that the wage gap between CEOs or business owners and the majority of staff members is far too large and that companies need to address this. “At Hollard we are making sure that the greatest percentage increases are being paid to the lowest paid staff to ensure that they can lead dignified lives,” he explains. To achieve this, the company is researching basic living costs and educational costs and has raised the minimum wage to reflect this. “I also believe that we have shown restraint in executive pay and I think it is an issue we should be prepared to address further. I would support capping of executive pay. There comes a point when you are earning enough and more than this is greedy. We live in a country with an enormous inequality problem and we need to be sensitive to this and to play our part in addressing it.

“I am confident that if all South African institutions think more holistically about our impact on and contribution to broader society, then we will collectively make an important difference.” Hollard is a founding member of an initiative called the Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator (harambee.co.za), which seeks to address market employment failure by matching and placing disadvantaged but talented young people in full-time employment through an outstanding bridging programme.

34 | WITSReview | April 2016


Harambee helps young people with a

Education at all levels is a key focus for

matric or equivalent qualification who

Kohler, who regards it as South Africa’s

have been looking for a full-time job,

most pressing problem and one that

but have not been able to find one. It

needs to be creatively solved.

does the same for young people with a university degree or other tertiary qualification. “I am proud to say that from 2011 to 2015 the initiative has placed over 20 000 young people in formal jobs,” says Kohler. “Over the next five years, we hope to bring 500 000 young people closer to work, providing all of them with market-relevant employability services and assisting 100 000 young


people to find formal jobs.”

“There is this fascinating book called Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think, by engineer and physician Peter Diamandis, who is part of an organisation called Singularity University. “It’s all about using the power of rapidly developing technology to start overcoming humanity’s biggest challenges, including education, poverty and inequality,” Kohler explains. “If used appropriately, technology can increasingly enable citizens in developing

As the parents of four, he and his wife

countries to take charge of improving

Janet are committed to South Africa and

their own lives and prospects, rather

to helping improve the lives of fellow

than being constrained by inefficient

South Africans.


“I hope to raise wonderful, hardworking, socially

“Technology can be used to clean water in deep rural

conscious children. Three of our children are under 10

communities. It can be used to facilitate education and

years of age and our fourth, a foster child, is 21 and

generate energy efficiently, cheaply and renewably.

working in a call centre.”

“When 800-million resourceful African people,

They fostered their oldest daughter, Ivy Tshabalala,

unconstrained by conventional wisdom, are able to

when she was 13 years old. She is the child of Kohler’s

access better education and the World Wide Web,

late housekeeper, Catherine Tshabalala. Shortly after

there will be an explosion of global innovation and

graduating from Wits he made a commitment to

progress. The world will move forward rapidly,

Catherine that if anything happened to her, he would

without waiting for governments that may or may not

help Ivy to get a decent education. Sadly, Catherine

follow through on their promises.”

passed away.

He believes that South Africa and the world need

“I managed to find Ivy near Harare in Zimbabwe. I

idealists, imaginers and revolutionary thinkers: “We

went there with the intention of making sure that

need the curious, the explorers and the lifetime

she was in a good school but she was living in such

learners. We need people with a head for paradox and

terrible conditions that I received permission from

hands for hard work. But most of all, we need people

her relatives to foster her. My wife was incredibly

with heart.”

supportive of Ivy becoming a member of our family.”

April 2016 | WITSReview | 35


Wits alumnus Gideon Khobane, 39, is the new Chief Executive of SuperSport. He joined the MultiChoice Group in 2008 and held posts as Head of Marketing and Publicity for M-Net Africa and Director for Research and Business Intelligence for M-Net South Africa. He is a chartered marketer and holds a Master’s in Strategic Management (2014) from WBS. BY DEBORAH MINORS

with Gideon Khobane BY DEBORAH MINORS

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Q&A In 2008 your task was to grow the Africa Magic portfolio of channels. Are you satisfied with the growth and do you think these channels deliver the content Africa prefers?

What was your (part-time) campus experience at Wits and how did you balance work, life and study?

Consumer preferences change over time. The

My challenge was working on the individual

challenge in the video entertainment business is

assignments and final dissertation. My

to continually evolve and look for new ways to

supervisor’s support was critical. The campus

entertain diverse audiences; to create an affinity

experience was phenomenal. I made lifelong

with the content by establishing new reality

friends and Wits was very supportive. I really

formats, drama series, or comedy specials.

enjoy learning so it wasn’t a massive sacrifice.

In 2012 we refocused the Africa Magic business to meet the needs of consumers in West Africa, and Nigeria in particular. This market has a deep affinity with video entertainment – the size and scale of the “Nollywood” film market attests to that.

What’s your opinion of those who audition for reality shows like Big Brother Africa, which you launched?

Attending lectures and group meetings on weekday evenings and Saturdays was easy.

Fortunately MultiChoice corporate culture supports individuals who are keen to study further.

To what extent has your Master’s and your Wits experience prepared you for the role of CEO of SuperSport? I’m not certain that any education can prepare one fully for the challenges of running a multinational business. Education is key but experience and internal support are vital. I

It takes a certain type of individual to leave the

believe my studies at WBS challenged me to

security of family and friends to participate in a

push my thinking beyond what I imagined I was

“social experiment” for three months! I deeply

capable of achieving. It was an intellectually

respect the applicants as I think it requires

challenging and rewarding experience.

incredible confidence and self-esteem to open yourself up like that to an entire continent. You have to be willing to be judged and have your life choices and lifestyle scrutinised.

You launched the Face of Africa, the Channel O Music Video Awards, Idols East & West Africa, and the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards. Does Africa have talent?

What’s your opinion on university sports and are you a sportsman yourself? I’m not qualified to give an opinion just yet! University sports will thrive only if we build secondary school sports across all of South Africa’s economic sectors. Sport is life! I run regularly and play football

Africa is brimming with talent. Talent requires

and golf socially. I love Arsenal FC, Bafana

opportunity and I’m happy to have played a

Bafana, the Proteas and the Springboks. I

part in unearthing this talent for Africa and the

think all human beings identify with sporting

world. There is still more to be done to support

achievement; that’s why we celebrate with our

Africa’s creative industries so they thrive and

sports stars when they win, or commiserate

become commercially successful. We need to

when they don’t.

do more to support our artists, actors, designers and the broader creative fraternity.

April 2016 | WITSReview | 37


The Photographer Radiologist Over the years it has emerged that many of our alumni medical doctors and specialists have incredible artistic talent and interests outside their medical careers. Dr Cyril Mazansky (BSc Wits 1966, MBBCh 1969) is one of them.

Sunrise on Moraine Lake, Canadian Rockies

38 | WITSReview | April 2016



Top: Leading into Upper Waterfowl Lake Middle: Marrakesch, Morocco Bottom: Turret Arch through North Window, Arches National Park, Utah

April 2016 | WITSReview | 39



s much as medicine intellectually stimulated me and I hope I was a good doctor, it was not an all-consuming passion. I firmly believe that to truly fulfil oneself intellectually, one must develop

other interests besides one’s career,” says Dr Cyril Mazansky, who has always pursued several interests, including photography. He moved to Boston in 1972 after graduating with his medical degree in order to pursue a speciality in radiology. “When I qualified, South Africa offered training in many top specialities, but I did not think that radiology was one of them. My best option was to move to America, where I was accepted at the Boston University School of Medicine training programme,” he explains. “In America, Wits Medical School has always been held in high esteem, and its graduates have almost uniformly done well. I think this made it easier for me to get my residency in Boston.” Mazansky was 27 at the time, married to his Witsie wife Harriet, who was 25, and they had a one-year-old daughter.

Assimilating into American society “We effortlessly assimilated into American society. Compared to South Africa at the time, it was such an open society. I loved the culture, the interest in politics and the arts among my colleagues, and the constant drive to break new boundaries,” Mazansky says. “It is my belief that the American higher education system, grounded first in an undergraduate degree that is rooted mostly in the liberal arts, in general makes for more well-rounded individuals. They may then choose to embark upon a specialised university postgraduate degree in the professions, arts or sciences.” Now 71 years of age, Mazansky retired from radiology at the end of 2014. He counts himself fortunate to have had a great career in Boston, and at the same time to know great love in his marriage and for their two daughters, Janet and Ruth, who are married and living in America.

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Lake Louise, Canadian Rockies

April 2016 | WITSReview | 41

DR CYRIL MAZANSKY He now has more time on his hands to focus on his extraordinary range of photographic, historical and literary interests. Ever since his high school days at King David Linksfield, he has had an interest in Anglo-European history, as well as the scholarly historical aspects of Judaic studies. One of the books he has authored covers the bibliography, history and typology of the traditional Jewish sages and scholars over the centuries, titled: The Sages of Our Tradition: Interpreters of the Tanakh and Talmud.

A large collection of British military swords As part of his Anglo-European interest, he created a large collection of British military swords covering a 400-year period. He and Harriet donated this collection to Brown University, which has the largest universitybased military research collection and study centre in the United States. He wrote a book on British basket-hilted swords that was published by the Royal Armouries of Great Britain, titled: British Basket-Hilted Swords: A Typology of Basket-Type Sword Hilts. He has also built up a comprehensive cigarette and trade card collection that is thematically based on the military and historical aspects of Great Britain and its Empire. Coinciding with the centenary of the start of the First World War, he published a card-based book earlier this year, titled: The First World War

He is currently writing a book on the history of Great Britain and the British Royalty. It will be extensively illustrated with the cards from his collection. Then there is his fascination with Winston Churchill, whom Mazansky has always greatly admired. He has been very active in the International Churchill Society and the Churchill Centre, and has first editions of all of Churchill’s writings.

on Cigarette and Trade Cards: An Illustrated and

Which brings us to his photography, which he

Descriptive History.

describes as “a lifelong passion”.

42 | WITSReview | April 2016

White coats, Tobias and Tattersalls “In the 1960s, the Medical School was still in Hillbrow and all of us medical students wore our white coats as a badge of honour.” Dr Cyril Mazansky did his clinical did my clinical work at the Johannesburg General Hospital under Professors Bothwell and Barlow, both of whom had an international reputation. Professor Bothwell was the Head of the Department of Medicine, specialising in haematology and oncology – he made a name for himself for the research he did on iron in the blood. Professor Barlow was a famous cardiologist. A powerful, dynamic person “I took time out of my medical degree to study microbiology under Professor Phillip Tobias. He had a tremendous influence my life,” Mazansky recounts. “He was such a powerful, dynamic person and he taught me the value of research. This was in the mid-1960s, when DNA and genetics were coming to the fore, and we explored this in his course. I clearly remember asking him: ‘what is the practical value to humanity of studying this material?’ and he replied that some of the greatest medical advances to humanity have come from basic research that was initially done just for research’s sake. I always remember that conversation, and have thought about it many times in Boston, where the biotechnology industry is an enormous asset to the state economy.” There were no computers or calculators

Tunbridge Wells, Vermont

“As a medical student, I had a huge amount of work to get through as I had to put myself through medical school. I tutored Maths, Science, Hebrew and Latin, and I worked for horseracing bookies in downtown Joburg at the Tattersalls. There were no computers or calculators then and I had to keep tally of how much the bookie stood to win or lose on each horse and on each race. So I had to add everything up in my head quickly and accurately because any inaccurate information would cost the bookie a lot of money. To this day, I can still calculate at speed. The investigative and diagnostic aspects “I chose to specialise in radiology because I always preferred the investigative and diagnostic aspects of medicine to the therapeutic side. It turned out to be an extremely exciting time to practise radiology because it was the beginning of the technological revolution. From the 1970s we had CAT scans and MRIs. From the mid-1980s mammography really took off. It had been non-existent in my early years of practice. It was highly rewarding to be able to offer this to women; in countless cases it has meant the difference between a death sentence and a fruitful life.” April 2016 | WITSReview | 43



“Since I was a kid I have always loved photography and never travelled anywhere without a camera. I started taking it very seriously, focusing on fine art photography after I joined the Photographic Society of America in the mid-1980s. “My eyes were opened to how important light and composition are to create a fine art image, and I started going on dedicated photographic trips around the world: from trips throughout America to Europe to Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert.” He has won prestigious awards for his works and exhibits globally, most recently at the Jodhpur Photographic Society in India, which features photographers from around the world. “The rewards of photography for me are a combination of several factors: it is an expression of my artistic interests; it allows me to explore, in-depth, so many beautiful parts of this world; and it offers me the opportunity to experience a deep spiritual and emotional connection with the glory and wonder of nature.” It would appear that Mazansky has, in many ways, led a charmed life. Is this so? “No life is charmed, we all have disappointments along the

Masks on Canal Bridge, Venice Carnival

way,” he replies. “What matters is that when things don’t go quite how we want them to, we find it in ourselves to make up for this, improve, pick ourselves up and start again. In life, we constantly have to assess, reassess and adapt. “This is the key.”

44 | WITSReview | April 2016


Places to visit at Wits


Wits Medical School, 7 York Road, Parktown Tel +27 (0) 11 717 2081 | adler.museum@wits.ac.za Cost free but venue hire tariffs on request | Hours: Monday to Friday 09:00 – 16:00. Saturdays on request

WITS ART MUSEUM | WAM University Corner, Corner Jorissen and Bertha Streets, Braamfontein | Tel + 27 (0) 11 717 1365/58 | info.wam@wits.ac.za | www.wits.ac.za/wam Hours: Wednesdays to Sundays 10:00 – 16:00 WAM has a café and hosts regular events and exhibitions. Admission free. Donations encouraged.

WITS THEATRE COMPLEX East Campus, Wits University, Performing Arts Administration, 24 Station Street, Braamfontein | Tel +27 (0) 11 717 1376 | catherine.pisanti@wits.ac.za | www.wits.ac.za/witstheatre | PAA reception hours, 08:00 – 16:00, Monday to Friday | Theatre costs vary according to programme | Tickets: www.webtickets.co.za

THE WITS CLUB Wits Club Complex, West Campus, Wits University Tel +27 (0) 11 717 9365 | info@olivesandplates.co.za www.olivesandplates.co.za | Hours: 07:00 – 17:00 for breakfast and lunch from Monday to Friday. Booking is essential.

PLANETARIUM East Campus, Wits, Yale Road off Empire Road, Entrance 10, Milner Park, Braamfontein | Tel +27 (0) 11 717 1390 | planet@planetarium.co.za | www.planetarium.co.za Hours: Kiddies’ show (5 – 8 years), Saturdays 10:30, R27 Details accurate at time of publishing. Please contact facilities directly.


Directions: Off R563 Hekpoort Road, Sterkfontein, Gauteng | Tel +27 (0) 14 577 9000 | website@maropeng.co.za | www.maropeng.co.za | Hours: 09:00 – 17:00 daily | Costs: Maropeng: Pensioner R77, student, R90, adult R144, child (4 – 14 years) R80 | Sterkfontein Caves: Pensioner R77, child (4 – 14 years) R87, student R90, adult R149 | Combination ticket: Child (4 – 14 years) R129, adult R194

THE ORIGINS CENTRE West Campus, Wits, cnr. Yale Road & Enoch Sontonga Avenue, Braamfontein | Tel +27 (0) 11 717 4700 | ask.origins@wits.ac.za | www.origins.org.za Hours: Daily and public holidays 09:00 – 17:00 | Costs: Adults R80, children (u/12 with adult) R40, guide fee (minimum 10) R200, learners R45, teachers (with school groups) R55, lectures, temporary exhibitions/walkabouts and films R50, Giving Back ticket R40 + 4 non-perishable food/toiletry items

WITS RURAL FACILITY Directions: From JHB, N14 and from PTA, N4 to Witbank (eMalahleni) to Belfast (eMakhazeni) to R540 to Lydenburg (Mashishing) to R36 to Abel Erasmus Pass to R531 to Klaserie then Orpen Road turn-off 2km past Klaserie, Limpopo | Tel +27 (0) 15 793 7500 | wrfmanager@tiscali.co.za | www.wits.ac.za/wrf Cost*: Terminalia and Vaalboom en-suite units: R684 for two, R278/extra person | Lodge: pps R254, single R382 | Anselia self-catering unit: pps R321, single R435 | Aerocamp: pps R285, single R399 | Bushcamp/4-person dormitory: R124 pp. * Wits rates quoted. Refer to website for public rates.

April 2016 | WITSReview | 45


Sir Jack Zunz Engineering an



In recognition of his contribution to engineering and the built environment, as well as his contribution through the Ove Arup Foundation, Sir Jack Zunz received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Wits University at its Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment graduation ceremony on 9 December 2015. Zunz, 92, who was unable to travel from England to attend, pre-recorded his address. A retired director of Arup, James Oppenheim accepted the scroll on Jack’s behalf.

ack studied civil engineering at Wits, where

The roof of fan-like precast concrete arches employed

he met zoology student, Babs Maisel. They

techniques that were used for the first time.

married in 1946 and Jack graduated in 1948 – a class renowned for a significant cohort of world-renowned engineering alumni. Jack

moved to London and in 1950 joined Ove Arup & Partners. In 1954, Jack returned to South Africa to

Jack became Chairman of Ove Arup in 1977 and global co-chairman in 1984. He was knighted in 1989 and received numerous prestigious awards recognising his contribution to the built environment.

establish Ove Arup here with Michael Lewis (BSc Eng

In his acceptance speech for his honorary degree

Civil, 1949). The firm was awarded the design of

from Wits, he said, “Education has always been a

Johannesburg’s Brixton Tower.

passion in my life. Education really is key, and you can

On 26 March 1960, Sharpeville happened. Jack

never spend enough – not just money, but time.”

was unable to reconcile himself with a society in

The Jack Zunz Scholarship was created to provide

which police opened fire on thousands of protestors

advanced study opportunities for talented engineers

opposing apartheid “pass” laws. Sixty-nine people

within Arup. The University of Technology, Sydney set

died. Jack returned to the UK.

up The Zunz Lecture Series in his honour.

He began work on the Sydney Opera House,

His legacy and Arup’s spirit of education endure

designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon. The design

in South Africa through the Arup Education

presented huge engineering challenges. Ultimately

Trust, established in 2010. The Trust sponsors

the solutions proposed were under Jack’s leadership

undergraduate study in the built environment and

in collaboration with Utzon.

runs a high school holiday programme.

46 | WITSReview | April 2016




Several Witsies were involved through Ove Arup in the Opera House: Michael Lewis (1927–2011) and Jack met at Wits and Jack introduced Lewis to Sir Ove Arup. Lewis joined Arup in1950 and in 1954 co-established Arup South Africa. In 1962 Arup asked Lewis to lead Arup’s work on site in Sydney, while Jack led the engineering design team in London. Lewis went on to lead Arup’s Sydney office before moving to London where he headed up infrastructure work. Cliff McMillan, Principal at Ove Arup New York and Jack’s friend since 1966, says, “Michael Lewis merits special credit. He was responsible for all the difficult action in Sydney.” McMillan (MSc Eng Civil 1966) himself celebrated 50 years at Arup in 2015. He has an enduring interest in the Opera House. “I arrived in the London office in early 1966, shortly after the architect, Utzon resigned – it had everyone talking. The roof structure construction was already well advanced.” That further kindled McMillan’s interest in computer-based analysis of complex structures. “For my Master’s I taught myself Fortran to analyse structures at Wits using the IBM 1620 – with all of 16k storage!” McMillan first visited the Opera House in 1975 and has returned frequently. “It never ceases to impress me,” he says. “I’ve given many presentations on it and now, with Jack, am one of few surviving ‘authorities’ in Arup.” Alan Levy (BSc Eng Civil 1956) went to London after graduating. In 1961 Arup persuaded him to accept the position of resident engineer of the Opera House. Levy, then 28, spent a year in Sydney helping with the design and building.

Right panel, top - bottom: Sir Jack at Ove Arup | Sir Jack Zunz (L) at Ove Arup | Sir Jack and Lady Zunz at home in London, December 2015 | Lady Zunz and Sir Jack the day Sir Jack was knighted in 1989 | Bottom L-R: Jack Zunz, Michael Lewis, Alexander Sascha Magasiner, Arthur Moss-Morris

April 2016 | WITSReview | 47


The Many Happy Returns series in the WITSReview invites alumni who have returned to campus since graduating to share their memories and observations of Wits then and now.


In Part 1, five alumni born on 29 February returned to campus for their first birthday in four years! They are among the 82 “leapling” Witsies worldwide and arguably our “youngest” alumni.

48 | WITSReview | April 2016

Leap-year alumni (L-R): Matthew Zylstra, Mohsin Seedat, Carla MartinsFurness, Hannah Le Roux, and Nicole Gundelfinger (front)

HAPPY RETURNS LATE 1980s Associate Professor Hannah le Roux, PhD (BArch 1987, MA 2002) studied architecture at Wits. The late Pancho Guedes (BArch 1953, honorary DArch 2003) was head of Architecture during her first degree so it’s appropriate that she write his obituary 30 years later. Hannah (13) is now Director of Architecture in the School of Architecture and Planning at Wits. She’s seen some changes since her student days when graduation exhibitions were held in the Flower Hall. “You never think of Wits as having heritage because it’s quite a new university in the global scheme of things, but it’s getting to a point where there is actually heritage,” she says. “The Revolving Restaurant closed a year or two before I came, and they should bring back the cable-car [at the Tower of Light].” The gallery near the School of Law is important heritage. “It was Rembrandt, I think, who paid for it, but as part of the Rand Show, not as Wits. It’s a really beautiful building but nobody’s taken it on as a restoration project.” Hannah reveals there used to be a sauna in the Bozz change-rooms. “It was always on, so we’d sometimes go on Friday afternoons.” Nowadays the PPS Lounge in the Matrix is the place to be; there’s free coffee and Wi-Fi. “Our senior students go there to work. They just disappear!”

EARLY 1990s

LATE 1990s

Dr Carla Martins-Furness (BSc 1995, BSc Hons 1996,

Mohsin Seedat (BSc Eng Industrial 1999, GDE 2001) is

MSc 1999, PhD 2009) met her husband, Damion

an Associate Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers who

Furness (BAS 1994, BArch 1996), at Wits. “At the Bozz,

studied industrial engineering at Wits. “I remember the

on Valentine’s Day,” she recalls. Carla, 11 (44), always

Chamber of Mines building very well,” he says (noting

wanted to come to Wits. “I was accepted at Tukkies,

that it now has a fourth quadrant), and sitting on the

but I wanted to come here. Wits was renowned as the

steps of the Mech Eng building between lectures.

best university in South Africa.” She remembers first

Mohsin, 10 (40), says parking issues persisted in his

year as “a lot of work!” but also the camaraderie. “Yale

student days: “We had those ‘meter-maid’ security

Road wasn’t closed,” says Carla. “They put a poster by

guys. They’d look at your sticker and see where you

the robots, which said ‘motorists, be careful: do not run

could park.” Yale Road parking was the most sought-

over a student; wait for a lecturer!’” She remembers

after; close to everything. The late Peter Roberts

political tension preceding 1994, and students dancing

(BSc Eng Mech 1987) was a favourite lecturer: “He

and singing in unison; the impact of their rhythmic

was witty, funny, connected easily with all students,

footfalls causing the floor of the Oppenheimer Life

passionate about the auto sector and a fundi on

Sciences building to vibrate. Protest characterised

production techniques,” recalls Mohsin. He credits his

those days: “A lot of intimidation, a sense of what’s

Wits education for his career success: “My Wits degree

gonna happen next? Similar to what we’ve experienced

gave me the opportunity to work on and lead some

now,” says Carla. She would know – she lectures in

of the largest and most exciting power projects in the

the Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology and

world,” he says. Mohsin has returned to campus since

witnessed #feesmustfall. Carla credits strong female

graduating: “The Planetarium is amazing – I came here

lecturers for her scientific career at Wits. Among her

a couple of years back – [but] they can make it more

mentors were Professor Valerie Mizrahi and Dr Michele

exciting for the kids.” Mohsin says it seems that Wits

Ramsay (PhD 1987). “There was still much patriarchy in

is in good hands. “Campus looks cleaner; the buildings

science and these women were powerful role models,”

are upgraded and covered in beautiful artwork. I

says Carla. “They made us feel we could get there.”

hope the high standards of education we received are

With four Wits degrees, Carla certainly has.

retained for generations to come.”

April 2016 | WITSReview | 49

HAPPY RETURNS Matthew Zylstra (BSc 2001) claims meeting his wife, Lee-Ann (née Van der Westhuizen) at Wits is the reason he almost failed Statistics in second year. “My wife was at JCE res for a few months – then she moved in with me…” he says. Although their early co-habitation was distracting, Matt, 9 (36), graduated in Actuarial Science and he’s now a healthcare actuary at Discovery. At Wits he played water polo and he still does. “I met my wife at a ski club party on campus and she came to watch my water polo training during lunch,” he recalls. Matt also played squash. “I used to play my lecturer, Stephen Jurisich [BSc 1986, BSc Hons 1988].” Classroom-time also made an impression. “I was amazed at a blind student who came to my mathematics lectures. I couldn’t imagine learning maths without being able to see – he definitely inspired me.” Matt remembers exams in Hall 29. “That’s a cold hall in winter,” he says. He and his friends took bets: “We’d have just slops and shorts on and see who could persevere. You won a case of beer – the stakes were high!” The biggest change on campus is the canteen: “The Matrix was completely different when I was here, with only one restaurant,” and signage has improved (he’d had nightmares about getting lost on campus). He found his way and says, “Wits was the best start I could have asked for to become an actuary. Campus looks even better than before, and I hope to be able to send my children here one day.”

LATE 2000s Nicole Gundelfinger (BA 2010, PDM 2011) studied law at Wits and management at Wits Business School. Her favourite haunt as a student was the Library Lawns on East Campus. “Nino’s at the Matrix made


the best – and cheapest at R10 – cappuccino!” recalls Nicole, 7 (28). An enduring memory is the pervasive parking issue. “I remember the parking nightmare and having to walk up from the bottom of West Campus to the top of East Campus!” More favourably memorable was Nicole’s English lecturer. “By far my best – Timothy Trengove-Jones had the sharpest sense of humour!” She emphasises it’s Trengove, not grove: “He used to give us huge grief when we submitted assignments with that pesky little ‘r’ stuck in!” Nicole’s graduation proved the penultimate experience: “I clearly remember the ceremony in the Great Hall. I remember feeling so honoured.” Nicole’s qualifications have served her well; she’s now Digital Marketing Manager at MultiChoice. “Wits is wellknown around the world and my Wits qualifications set me on a path to success,” she says. “I wouldn’t be where I am now without this.” On returning to campus Nicole remarked, “The buildings are brighter. I can’t believe how much has been done to improve infrastructure!”.

50 | WITSReview | April 2016

To arrange your own happy return to campus, contact the Alumni Office for a free campus tour and/or discounted rates on selected destinations including the Origins Centre. Email alumni@wits.ac.za or Purvi.purohit@alumni.co.za or call 011 717 1093.




April 2016 | WITSReview | 51


The Dream House by Craig Higginson Craig Higginson (BA 1994, BA Hons 1995, MA 2010)

Manifest Reality: Kant’s Idealism and his Realism by Lucy Allais

is an internationally acclaimed writer and theatre

Lucy Allais (BA 1995, BA Hons 1996) is a Professor of

director. He won the UJ Prize for South African

Philosophy at Wits and the Henry Allison Chair of the

Literature in English for his novel The Landscape

History of Philosophy at the University of California,

Painter (2011), for which he earned his MA cum

San Diego. As an undergraduate she won the James

laude in Creative Writing from Wits. The Dream

Grieve Prize for Best Philosophy student and she was

House (Picador Africa, 2015) is his fifth novel. It is

a Rhodes Scholar in 1996. She also holds a BPhil

set in the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal, where an

(1998) and DPhil (2001) from Oxford. Allais’ research

elderly white couple are packing up their farmhouse.

has focused on the philosophies of Immanuel Kant

Wheelchair-bound Patricia; her farmer husband

(1724–1804), one of the most influential Western

Richard; their enigmatic driver Bheki; and domestic

philosophers ever. Allais’ book Manifest Reality:

worker Beauty each narrate their perspectives. Then

Kant’s Idealism and his Realism (Oxford University

Looksmart, born on the farm and favoured by Patricia,

Press, 2015) is about Kant’s metaphysics (the first

who ensured he received a quality education, returns

principles of things) and epistemology (nature and

from Johannesburg after a long absence. The Dream

scope of knowledge). Allais interrogates a position at

House is a meditation on memory, ageing, meaning,

the centre of Kant’s philosophy: his account of the

family, love and loss. The novel is a portrayal of a

nature of the relation between mind and reality. Kant

country pulled between affection, anger, nostalgia

sees this position as crucial to solving the problem of

and resistance. Nobel Laureate and alumna, the

freedom of the will, which forms the basis of his moral

late Nadine Gordimer (honorary LLD 1984), earlier

and political philosophy. The publisher describes the

described it as “an open and frank exploration of

book as written by “a leading Kant scholar… [which]

human life that resonates beyond race”.

promises to be a landmark work in Kant studies.”

52 | WITSReview | April 2016


What if There Were No Whites in South Africa? by Ferial Haffajee

Encountering Difference by Robin Cohen & Olivia Sheringham

Editor-in-Chief of City Press newspaper, Ferial Haffajee

Robin Cohen (BA 1964) is Emeritus Professor of

(BA 1989) is one of South Africa’s thought leaders

Development Studies, Principal Investigator on

and social commentators. She sits on the boards of

the Oxford Diasporas and former Director of the

the World Editors Forum and the International Press

International Migration Institute at the University of

Institute. She is lead judge of the CNN MultiChoice

Oxford. Since his days as an undergraduate student

African Journalist of the Year Awards and has won

at Wits, he has pondered the question: Why does

several local and international awards related to

conflict mark so many inter-ethnic relationships

media freedom and independence as well as for her

and are there other places and ways of interacting

reporting. In What if There Were No Whites in South

which increase harmony? Professor Cohen has now

Africa? Haffajee examines South Africa’s history

co-written a book analysing how and why people

and present in the light of a provocative question

of different origins and backgrounds manage to live

that yields some thought-provoking discussion and

with one another. In Encountering Difference (Polity,

analysis. She writes, “Perhaps because I grew up

2016), he and co-author Olivia Sheringham examine

reporting the making of the Constitution and now

how difference has been overcome in particular

enjoy the opportunities and protections of that

areas such as islands, port cities and cities formed by

sacrament, I feel my equality in deep and appreciative

migration and globalisation. They consider how the

ways.” From round-table discussions with influential

concepts of “identity formation”, “diaspora” and

South Africans to research, personal thoughts and

“creolisation” (creating new cultures from prior ones)

powerful anecdotes, Haffajee takes the reader

help us understand cultural encounters. Encountering

through the rocky terrain of race rage in South Africa

Difference traverses social and political theory,

and grapples with what it means to be South African

history, cultural anthropology, sociology and human

in 2015 and beyond.

geography. It includes insights from musicology and linguistics. All these suggest how we can mitigate cultural conflict through everyday social changes and explore new ways of overcoming difference.

April 2016 | WITSReview | 53




This fine anthropological study

These men are latter-day

of the Universal Church of the

evangelists with Bible in hand

Kingdom of God raises some

and the right quotation for

penetrating questions about

every crisis. It has become an

the purpose of a church and

entrepreneurial race and the

who is served by Christianity

successful churches, such as

in the broadest sense and by

the Universal Church of the

this particular Pentecostal,

Kingdom of God, move from old

charismatic church in a narrow

shop front to cathedral status


in Durban’s Smith Street or to

South Africa since 1994 has seen an upsurge in new churches in city centres. These new

Soweto. (Their Cathedral of Faith is ostensibly the largest church building in Southern Africa.)

churches have shifted their

Pastors have commoditised

appeal from white, relatively

religion into a product that

affluent Christians to aspiring

appeals to the poor, the hopeful,

black congregants and work

the urban migrant. Often noisy

with missionary zeal; if you travel

affairs making use of amplifiers,

along Louis Botha Avenue from Hillbrow to Alexandra

these churches offer entertainment and excitement

in Johannesburg you will spot many “churches”

while promising salvation in the next life and wealth,

popping up in old shops and derelict buildings.

happiness and cures for all ailments in this life. There

Nigerian, Kenyan, Ghanaian and Malawian preachers

is a beguiling mix for the vulnerable; if you pray hard

have entered Africa to preach a prosperity gospel and

enough, have strong faith and pay the tithe and more,

wage spiritual warfare, with dramatic sermons against

the demons will be exorcised, all your dreams will

demons, witchcraft and Satan, while promising

come true, and a job, a house, the perfect partner or

congregants material rewards if they donate to the

the panacea for multiple illnesses will be delivered.

church generously.

54 | WITSReview | April 2016



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This is a book that deepens one’s scepticism. The title,

unstable. There is a high turnover of congregants.

A Church of Strangers, is arresting but peculiar as one

It seems more important to fill the stadiums than to

assumes that a church is a religious and community

follow up. People seem to come and go in search of

organisation supporting and connecting its members


in a social welfare network of help through life’s trials and tribulations. Not this church; it discourages social intercourse, intimacy and connectedness. This particular church is of Brazilian origin and its missionaries spread its word in the UK, the USA, Jamaica and parts of Africa.

A particular challenge for an anthropologist is to retain a balance and a distance between scientific investigation and participation. Van Wyk does not shy away from these ethical dilemmas. Her command of the literature takes her deep into the ethnological studies of religion in other parts of the world and

The author, Ilana van Wyk, undertook the field work

the bibliography is a model of sound scholarship.

for this study (the immediate objective of her research

There are plenty of text-notes and cross references

was a PhD) in the period 2002 to 2005 in Durban,

but the reader is not overwhelmed by detail. The

where this church had a strong and growing presence.

style of writing is engaging and, having recently read

By 2005 it was the fastest growing church in South

the classic Ellen Hellman study of the slum yards of

Africa, with a new church opening every week. The

Johannesburg of the early 1930s, I rank this book

South African Council of Churches and the Human

as an anthropological classic in the making. I would

Rights Commission landed in hot water, though,

like to know, though, if Van Wyk sees Pentecostal

when they tried to launch an enquiry into financially

evangelism as a real solution to societal ills and how

exploitative practices and psychological conditioning.

this particular church fits into the wider spectrum of

Van Wyk comments on her surprise at discovering

church choices.

that this church discouraged close social ties between

I found the analysis of the shifting centre of global

members. However, her study deftly weaves the

Christianity towards the emerging developing

experiences of the many people she sought and

countries of the global South, and the success of this

interviewed with an analysis of the methodologies

particular church in appearing to be both global and

and strategies of the church at a macro level. I found

local and to indigenise a Brazilian message, particularly

it interesting that Van Wyk joined the church, at least

insightful. Because this study was rooted in a specific

in the sense of attending services and attempting to

period of fieldwork, one did wonder about future

talk to pastors, bishops and ordinary people. This led

trends and directions both of this particular church

to another finding, namely that the membership is

and of the Pentecostal appeal.

April 2016 | WITSReview | 55



This book by Brenda

and changes in councils and

Schmahmann, Professor in

governance) meant that there

the Faculty of Art, Design and

was a particular challenge to give

Architecture at the University of

accessible visual expression to

Johannesburg, is the product

these structural and intellectual

of research supported by the

shifts and indeed revolutions

National Research Foundation. It

after 1994.

is serious, scholarly, provocative and very readable. The work gives a fascinating insight into transition and transformation through the medium of the visual arts, university insignia and art collections assembled by South African universities.

Universities are patrons, purchasers, repositories and depositories of public art. Art collections are among the tools of education in fine arts, sociology, history and anthropology. Art collections housed in galleries or even in

How do universities acquire status to demarcate and

spaces like libraries, council chambers and senate

enhance their importance, relevance and presence

rooms accumulate through the decades to become

in society? Schmahmann shows how art collecting,

part of the fabric of the institution, a treasured

insignia and elaborate costumes worn at graduations

public commodity. But there is an expectation

are codes for conveying complex messages about

of accountability in the display, collection and

positioning, the recreation of an image and

interpretation of these art works. Often universities

significance. It was never a simple matter or just a

receive gifts of works of arts or commission works

public relations exercise. The redesign of so many

for museums or public spaces. The author largely

universities in a transformed shape after 1994 to shift

concentrates on four South African universities – Cape

from a model of apartheid stratification or colonial

Town, Rhodes, Wits and Pretoria, which almost stand

rectitude to being inclusive, South African, culturally

for case studies of the visual transformative agenda,

diverse, relevant and a lot more open was also played

but other universities, for example the Free State and

out in the forms, symbols and codes revealed in

the University of Johannesburg, also feature. The

new coats of arms and art works. There has been

study does not encompass architecture.

a conscious effort to express the arrival of both old and new universities in a different political space. The remaking of the university (the amalgamation of previously segregated universities to become new higher education post-apartheid institutions, the conversion of technikons into universities,

56 | WITSReview | April 2016

One particular challenge for many universities was what to do with older art works commissioned when different ideologies prevailed. The commemoration of the Great Trek had to be given a more distant historical perspective by the addition of new contemporary works of art at the Free State University.


The Louis Trichardt ox wagon was an iconic symbol

The Wits collection of portraits has now been moved

of the Great Trek and the makings of Afrikaner

from the Council Chamber and Senate foyer and

nationalism at the University of Pretoria but was

consigned for safekeeping and care to the upper,

dispatched to an off-campus museum.

remoter reaches of the Wartenweiler Library. They are

Rethinking university insignia leads Schmahmann into investigating the shifts, adaptation and redesign

still part of a tradition but now are much less visible as daily points of reference.

of coats of arms, motifs and ceremonial dress to

A final chapter addresses the delicate question of

introduce new African identities and move away

the arts, the pitfalls of censorship and the right to

from Eurocentric biases, but heraldic continuities

freedom of expression. Schmahmann discusses

and traditions are still drawn upon. I was personally

four case studies of art works at four universities

particularly interested in the chapter on art collections

which were perceived as controversial and raises

and new acquisitions of public art to support

the question of the management and responses of

the repositioning and transformative agenda of

university authorities to external and internal criticisms.

a university. Wits University added to the duo of

The 1996 ceramic ashtray in the shape of a vagina,

historical narrative paintings by Colin Gill and JH

entitled Useful Objects, crafted by Kaolin Thomson,

Amshewitz, which generations of students know from

was the winner of the prestigious Martienssen Prize

their study time spent in the William Cullen library, by

at Wits and resulted in a row when the then deputy

commissioning Cyril Coetzee to create the third giant

speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Kgositsile,

wall-filling canvas, T’kama-Adamastor, in 1999. It did

used her dislike and reaction to the work to try to

not take long for this painting to become a traditional

modify the new Films and Publication Bill to be more

and almost iconic treasure and it did not raise any

repressive. The University stood its ground and did not


remove the work from the exhibition.

Portraits, paintings and busts acquired by other

In summary, this book by an art scholar of note is

universities reveal new histories, new interpretations

a balanced, original and well researched analysis of

and different priorities. It is worth remembering

the role of the arts in the transformative agenda of

that these art works will themselves become

universities. It is a beautifully produced book with a

representations that fit the struggles and mind-sets

good selection of excellent colour photographs. It is

of the current generation and will age into fusty

a work that should appeal to all who are interested

traditions. Another tradition that has been reinvented

in South African art history in the making and should

but where there is continuity is the commissioning

also be read by University movers and shakers who

of official portraits of university officers (chancellors,

wish to patronise artists and grow their art collection

vice-chancellors, chairmen of councils). Portraits are

while at the same time thinking about the meaning of

meant to flatter, to compliment and to endure and

their authority and how they wish future generations

hence artists with modernist leanings are constrained

to view their legacies. This is particularly apposite

by their brief to portray verisimilitude. The official

now that so much art is being produced to honour

portrait marks a term of office and a dedicated service

the memory of Nelson Mandela, some of which will

to the University and here the author discusses how

no doubt find its way into university collections. Art

some renowned South African artists have risen to

is a source of pride, of identity and expression, but

the challenge. The problem remains where to hang

we are usefully reminded that there is also a political

such portraits of elderly, grey, mainly white males


representing another era and other politics.

April 2016 | WITSReview | 57




TONY WILLIAMS (1926–2016)

Renowned South African

Dr Antony Arthur Butler Williams

architect Jeremy Robert

(BSc Eng Civil 1948, PhD 1976)

Rose (BArch 1988) died on

passed away on 4 February 2016.

20 December 2015, aged

He was born on 24 February 1926

52. He was born on 24

in Kokstad and matriculated at

May 1963 in South Africa.

Michaelhouse. He enrolled at Wits

At Wits he was a member

in 1944 but joined the navy to serve

of the National Union of South African Students

in WWII. He returned, graduated in 1948 and then

(NUSAS) and active in the End Conscription Campaign.

studied further at Imperial College and Cambridge

Before 1994 he lived in Botswana as a conscientious

in the UK. Tony spent 35 years at the Council for

objector. In 1995 Jeremy returned to South Africa and

Scientific and Industrial Research, specialising in soil

he and Phill Mashabane established Mashabane Rose

mechanics and pioneering the field of geotechnical

Associates. Over the next 20 years the practice would

engineering. He was widely published and eminent,

produce iconic projects including the Origins Centre at

having being awarded the South African Institution of

Wits, the Apartheid Museum, Liliesleaf and Freedom

Civil Engineering Meritorious Research Award (2015),

Park – the latter two Jeremy presented at the 2009

the Institute for Engineering and Environmental

World Architecture Festival in Barcelona, Spain. He

Geologists’ Gold Medal (2005), the JE Jennings

supported the contemporary South African art scene

Award (1998); the South African Geotechnical Gold

and was himself a talented draughtsman, painter and

Medal (1991); and the J Douglas Roberts Award

sculptor. He relentlessly pursued excellence in design

(1980). In retirement Tony enjoyed travel, fly-fishing

yet balanced his high expectations with genuine

and wild flowers. He worked with his son, Matthew,

empathy. He enjoyed teaching and was a warm and

to establish the Red Desert Nature Reserve in Port

enthusiastic mentor. He was a gentle giant with a

Edward. Tony was a formidable squash player and

cheeky, mischievous wit and a big laugh. He would

achieved colours at university and provincially. He was

greet his colleagues with a hearty, “Good morning,

a gentleman, a sportsman and a scholar. He was a

Comrades!” Jeremy’s memorial on 30 January 2016

proud Wits alumnus and produced a memoir, Some

took place at the Apartheid Museum. He leaves his

Reminiscences of the ’48 Class of Civil Engineering. His

daughter, Maya, and partner Mary Wafer (PGD 1999,

wife of over 60 years, Vron, their four children and six

MAFA 2009).

grandchildren survive him.

58 | WITSReview | April 2016


PANCHO GUEDES (1925–2015) Architect, artist, philosopher and professor, Amâncio “Pancho” d’Alpoim Miranda Guedes (BArch 1949, honorary DArch 2003) died peacefully near Graaff Reinet on 7 November 2015, aged 90. He was born in Lisbon on 13 May 1925 but


moved to Mozambique in 1933. Educated in South Africa, Pancho

Pancho’s progressive sympathies

matriculated at Marist Brothers

did not endear him to Portuguese

College in Johannesburg and studied

colonists in Mozambique. At

architecture at Wits. Here he was

independence in 1975, he was

inspired by the previous generation

forced to leave Maputo in haste.

of revolutionary modernists, notably

Herbert Prins, an architect friend in

Rex Martienssen (1905–1942) and

Johannesburg, recruited him to head

Norman Hanson. They were critical

the Department of Architecture

followers of Le Corbusier, whose

at Wits. Here he was an inspiring

letter to the “Groupe Transvaal”

and iconoclastic professor who

Pancho later framed and displayed in

appointed excellent teachers, among

the Wits library. Pancho met Dorothy

them several women, including

“Dori” Ann (née Phillips) at Wits,

Marilyn Martin, Mira Fassler Kamstra

and they married in 1947.

and Jenny Stadler.

In 1950 Pancho returned to

Pancho retired from Wits in 1990.

Mozambique and began practising

He was subsequently rediscovered

privately in Lourenço Marques

as an alternative modernist of

(Maputo), later that decade

great significance and his work

becoming a patron of the young

was exhibited in Lisbon, Venice,

art student Malangatana Valente

Switzerland and South Africa. With

Ngwenya. In the 20 years that

his passing, a new generation

followed, Pancho designed

knows his rich legacy, which remains

prolifically, notably celebrated

significant in fashioning an African

projects including The Saipal Bakery

architectural identity.

(1952), Smiling Lion apartment block (1956) and “Clandestine Nursery School” in the Caniço (1968).

“With his passing, a new generation knows his rich legacy, which remains significant in fashioning an African architectural identity”

Hannah le Roux, PhD (BArch 1987, MArch 2002), Associate Professor, Wits School of Architecture.

April 2016 | WITSReview | 59



HELEN NOLTE (1933 – 2015)

ANNE SASSEN (1958–2015)

Helen Ruby

Pianist and

Margaret Louise

Smith Nolte (née

English teacher


Gordon) passed

Anne Sassen (BA

(née Lennox) (DOH 1958) died

away on 29 July 2015, aged 82.

Ed 1993) passed away on 22 April

peacefully in Port Elizabeth on

She was born on 27 July 1933 and

2015 after a devastating stroke 10

28 July 2015, aged 77. She was

held three degrees from Wits: BSc

months earlier. She was 56. Anne

born in Morocco on 13 October

1954, BSc Hon 1955, MSc 1956.

was born on 12 June 1958. She

1937 and came to South Africa in

During her postgraduate studies,

was a talented pianist and obtained

1946. She matriculated at Pretoria

Helen worked in the Zoology

her Licentiate in 1981. She was

Girls’ High and then studied

Department at Wits. She married

included in the International Who’s

occupational therapy at Wits.

a former Professor of Genetics at

Who in Music in 1982 and became

She practised in Johannesburg

Wits, Daniel Johannes Nolte (DSc),

a fellow of London’s Trinity College

and is credited with pioneering

shortly before earning her Master’s.

of Music in 1983. She graduated

occupational therapy in the

Earning this degree was all the

with a degree in education from

medico-legal field. This was after

more remarkable for the fact that

Wits in 1993 and then earned

she gained considerable experience

Helen wrote the dissertation from

her Honours degree from the

working with Workmen’s

her hospital bed. She developed

University of Johannesburg. She

Compensation patients and later

rheumatoid arthritis at the age of

taught English at Jeppe Girls,

helped establish the Independent

16, which interrupted her studies

Athlone Girls and Queens high

Living Centre for the disabled.

for a year. Despite being plagued

schools, among others, and she

Margaret retired in 2003 and

by ill health her whole life, Helen

worked with an NGO assisting

moved to Port St Francis. Here she

endured. She left her job as a tutor

Soweto’s teachers. Anne was an

set about improving conditions

and lecturer at Wits to raise her

informed and unique teacher with

and resources at the Sea Vista

children, and she later qualified

a genuine belief in the power of

Primary School. In October 2013

and worked as a teacher for many

words and the magic of reading.

Margaret wrote to the Alumni

years. Helen regularly attended the

She loved art, music, literature,

Office and shared excerpts of her

annual Founders’ Tea and she was

theatre and language. She read

manuscript, Remember when –

a Wits benefactor. She donated

Italian and isiZulu at university and

Wits experiences: On being an OT,

to the School of Animal, Plant &

was learning Tshivenda and Sepedi.

which she wrote for her children.

Environmental Sciences to support

Anne was fiercely intelligent, an

Margaret wrote that Wits gave her

the field of Zoology, and she left

energetic organiser, deeply sincere,

“a kick-start in the most satisfying

a bequest to Wits Donald Gordon

and serious about basic human

career [she] could have wished

Medical Centre for teaching and

values. She leaves her parents and

for”. She leaves a son and two

research into rheumatoid arthritis.

sisters, Peta and Robyn (BA 1993,

daughters from two marriages, and

Her daughters Danielle (BA PDE

MA 2005).

Tim, her partner of many years.

1984, MA (ClinPsych) 2006) and Andrea (MBBCh 1987) survive her.

60 | WITSReview | April 2016


CYRIL TOKER (1930–2015) Dr Cyril Toker (MBBCh 1952, MMed 1962) died in Florida, USA on 8 August 2015, aged 85. He was born on 29 March 1930 in Ermelo, South Africa. He studied Medicine at Wits, as did his younger brother, Eugene (1957), and their father, Philip (1927). Dr Cyril Toker became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1957 and won the Hallett Prize. He emigrated to New York in 1962 and specialised in pathology at Mount Sinai Hospital and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. A pioneer in the field of Surgical Pathology, he was the first to identify the Toker cell and trabecular carcinoma of the skin (also known as Merkel cell carcinoma). He became Professor of Pathology at Mount Sinai Hospital and the University of Maryland Medical School. He published over 100 papers and wrote a medical textbook and a novel, The Sibylline Books, which references Wits. In 1999 he obtained a Juris Doctor degree from the Florida Coastal School of Law. He was a man of courage, persistence, intelligence, kindness and humour, dedicated to justice, fairness and environmental conservation. He was passionate about aeroplanes and his grandchildren called him “Captain Cyril”. His wife of 47 years, Karen, children David and Rachel, his brother, and four grandchildren survive him.

YVONNE STEIN (1933–2015) Yvonne Lorna Stein (née Fridjhon) died on 19 April 2015 in London, aged 82. Yvonne was born in Pretoria on 12 April 1933. She attended Kingsmead School in Johannesburg. She graduated from Wits with a BA Honours in Social Work in 1954. She made a major contribution to family, couples and individual psychotherapy in Johannesburg, spending a large part of her working career at the Johannesburg Child Guidance Clinic and in private practice in Norwood. In 1987, Yvonne and her husband emigrated to the UK to be closer to their children. Here Yvonne continued her career in social work. Most recently she worked at the Helen Bamber Foundation, where she initiated and provided a family therapy intervention programme for families and individuals seeking asylum in the UK. She inspired many people both personally and professionally. She was a valued therapist, supervisor and teacher in her field. Her children, Alan, Mark and Lynne, and seven grandchildren survive her. Yvonne’s husband, Professor Harry Stein (MBBCh 1949), to whom she was married for 61 years, died three months earlier on 31 December 2014.

April 2016 | WITSReview | 61



AUBREY SHEIHAM 1936–2015 By Lynda Murray

The late Dr Aubrey Sheiham and his wife Dr Helena Sheiham, June 2011


ubrey Sheiham, epidemiologist, emeritus

It is related to this last-mentioned area, inequality,

professor of dental public health at

that Aubrey and his wife Helena have made a

University College London (UCL), and

profound contribution to Wits. In 2015, the couple

major donor to Wits, has died aged 79.

had already donated over R11-million to support the

Born on 12 September 1936 in Graaff-

Vice-Chancellor’s focus on addressing inequality. The

Reinet, Aubrey graduated from Wits with a Bachelor

gift is initially being used to support a programme in

of Dental Science (BDS) in 1957. In 1958 Aubrey

the Wits School of Public Health to research the social

went to London, where he first worked at the London

determinants of health and health inequalities.

Hospital Medical College. In 1966 he married Helena Cronin, a philosopher. In 1984 Aubrey moved to UCL as professor of dental public health. He retired in 2001 as professor emeritus.

Aubrey was globally eminent. Among other accolades, he received honorary doctorates from the University of Athens and University of the Western Cape, and in 2015 he received the Distinguished Scientist Global

Retirement did not end Aubrey’s career. His relative

Oral Health research award from the International

and friend Professor Sir Michael Marmot points out

Association of Dental Research. Late last year Aubrey

that Aubrey had 264 publications at the time of

received an honorary fellowship of the Faculty of

his retirement, yet published a further 242 papers

General Dental Practice, Royal College of Surgeons.

subsequently. Aubrey also supervised 52 PhD students

Helena accepted the award on his behalf.

from 20 countries. It is not just the quantity but also the quality of Aubrey’s research that Sir Michael highlights. He praises Aubrey’s use of carefully researched evidence to inform the promotion of oral health in “three complementary directions” – diet, (“[h]e played a central role in keeping the evidence on sugar and dental caries before policymakers”), whole-population

In a tribute to Aubrey, his UCL colleagues Professor Graham Hart and Professor Richard Watt described him as “highly respected, much admired and loved…for over 30 years he was an inspirational teacher, mentor and public health advocate for social justice and global health”.

thinking (“[t]his radical approach had a profound effect

Aubrey won’t just be remembered for his scholarly

on oral health policy in the UK and internationally”) and

contribution, his visionary policy work and his social

the social determinants of oral health (“Aubrey did as

justice advocacy, because all who knew him remark

much as anyone to put inequalities in dental health on

on his generosity, kindness and care that he showed

the intellectual and policy map”).

towards others.

62 | WITSReview | April 2016


Contradictions of Identity


n my vehicle being


At the height of the “everything must fall” protests late last year I picked up a Canadian professor from the airport. His first reference to making sense of a very strange South Africa was to invoke Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show: “When South Africans are collectively angry, they sing and dance.” This anecdotal insight underpins Handel Kashope Wright’s key theoretical insight in developing originary African cultural studies as being about “bodies that do not belong” (in the North). Wright originally hailed from Sierra Leone.

searched and my passengers being frisked on our daily entry onto the University of Johannesburg campus, the private security guards always addressed

Handel in Zulu, then in Tswana and then, in desperation, Sotho. When they got no response in any of these languages, I revealed Handel’s Canadian citizenship. How could a black man not speak Zulu? Did he not know who he was? For me, the significance of the encounter was: “Does Wright really have a body – or perhaps language – that does not belong anywhere?” Is he rendered thus stateless – a makwerekwere?

April 2016 | WITSReview | 63

WITS END Peter Sellers once played a bungling Indian actor

Ian Player and Johnny Clegg, among others, were

accidentally invited to a lavish Hollywood dinner in

inducted as “White Zulus”. Why are Tswana speakers

The Party. A fish out of water, Bakshi blunders about

with accented Zulu othered as “not African” by the

observing people in embarrassing situations and

Durban Zulu-speaking rank and file? Afrikaans is

unintentionally causing minor damage to fittings and

considered indigenous by the First People. The first

fixtures. He is yelled at: “Who do you think you are?”

known Afrikaans script is in Arabic, emanating from

I once felt like that when I tried to cash in a 20-year

the Malay slaves brought to the Cape. Is speaking Zulu

investment. The company claimed that my John

without an accent the key to ethnic adoption? How

Hancock bore little resemblance to my earlier scrawl.

does one then tick the form asking about “race” (for

Clearly, I did not know who I was and I had to prove

statistical purposes?).

my bona fides by signing and providing all kinds of certified documents to convince the company that the investment was mine.

The roles that we know we are playing are often demonised as “belonging” somewhere else. Identities are constructions; they are not cast in stone, pigment

But few South Africans have these items – utility bills,

or language. Most of us would like to construct our

bank statements, fixed street addresses. That’s the

own identities rather than having categories assigned

flaw with Black Economic Empowerment legislation.

to us by bureaucrats and ideologues – we don’t like

Only those with verifiable documentation can

being told where to belong. In the USA self-identified

invest and participate in the formal financial sector.

Irish, Italian, African, Chinese and other hyphenated

No wonder the masses are calling for the fall of

Americans are all overwhelmingly patriotic Americans.


They know where they belong even as they identify

Where Wright made notes on how his identity was

and behave differently.

being constructed for him by the security guards (who

As Trevor Noah asks, why are South Africans so

were looking for petrol bombs), Bakshi’s response


was: “Where I come from, we know who we are.” It’s disconcerting when a faceless manager tells me that I am not who I know I am because he thinks that my signature is different – photo IDs, fingerprints and DNA aside.

Blackface, whiteface, purpleface, Trekkie faces (Klingons, aliens of various kinds) – man, Al Jolson must be mystified at what goes on in SA. Trevor Noah, please come home. We really need you, and Schuster needs some help. We all need some help.

Wright himself learned that he was positioned as “African” and “black” when he first arrived in Canada as a graduate student. Until that time he thought he was just human. When I have worked at African universities and with black and African studies centres in the US, I have been assumed to be black, because of the nature of my academic activism rather than what I look like. Only in South Africa am I irredeemably “white”, or a “body that does not belong”.

64 | WITSReview | April 2016


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