Wits Review December 2015

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From the day they were born the current generation of students have been told they are special. They have spent their whole lives being reminded that they are the “born free” generation. This has instilled a sense of destiny and expectation. They expect that the promises that accompanied liberation and democracy will be fulfilled.


hey have also grown up with the rise of social media, which has profoundly democratised communication, discourse, and the dissemination

of ideas on a global scale. Experiences, images and ideas can be shared instantly and globally with millions. Communities, constituencies, and even nations can be mobilised in a way that was never possible before. We are still coming to understand the wave of student protests that spread throughout the country in October 2015 - and its implications - but we know that 20 years after the end of apartheid, there is a disconnect

A new generation finds its voice No-one can predict how this will play out in the new year, but we may have seen only the beginning of this

between the promise of democracy and the harsh

new wave of student activism.

reality of continuing poverty and inequality. Even the

A new generation has found its voice and is

ideal of a rainbow nation is undermined by ongoing

determined to use it to ensure access to education.

prejudice, discrimination and race-based solidarity.

As in the past, Witsies are at the forefront of this new

Whilst older generations who experienced the horror

struggle. Our challenge it to ensure that protest is

of apartheid may be complacent in the knowledge that lives have vastly improved under freedom and

peaceful and that the right to learn is not ironically infringed by those fighting for greater access to

democracy, “born frees” are not using life under


apartheid as a yardstick.

This is also a moment for national reflection and

Frustration at continuing disparities in wealth, access

introspection by political, civil, business, religious,

and opportunity has been brewing and significant student fee increases for 2016 provided the spark to ignite nation-wide student protests. The rapidity,

and university leaders. There are systemic failures in our society that must be resolved if we are to create a prosperous and inclusive society with education

intensity, extent, and form the protest action took were

opportunities for all.

unexpected, signalling that students are organising in

Peter Maher Director: Alumni Relations

new ways and testing boundaries.

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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 Design & Layout: Nicole Sterling nicole.sterling@wits.ac.za Printing: Colorpress (Pty) Limited


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/update SUBSCRIPTIONS: International subscribers: R100 per annum Local subscribers: R80 per annum

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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. 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: Recent student protests were symbolised by #FeesMustFall. See story on pgs.10-25. Typography by Nicole Sterling


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LETTERS Raikes Memorial Dear Editor, What happened to the Raikes Memorial Match opening the season, when past Wits RF players vs. the current selection played? At one Rugby Committee meeting in 1955, Frank Lucas (then Secretary) and I (Chairman) founded the match. When it succumbed I do not know. Humphrey Raikes, model of a Vice-Chancellor, worthy successor to Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr, had died a while previously. Mark Lowenthal (MBBCh 1957), Israel Ed. The Raikes Memorial still takes place. It is Wits Rugby’s season closer. Contenders in 2015 included Wits Old Boys vs. Pirates Madalas. The main game pitted Wits XV against Suparugby Invitational XV (comprising the best of other clubs), which the Invitational XV won by two points in the final minutes.

The obituary to Lady Felicia Kentridge (WR July 2015) was particularly poignant. Felicia inspired and motivated her flock of well-meaning, innocent students at the Law Faculty's legal aid service at Riverleigh and on campus. She was a vivacious, patient and inspiring teacher. Felicia fostered and cemented a lifelong commitment to human rights and the rule of law, both of which remain under serious challenge here in Australia today. We, her grateful former students, will remember her fondly. This edition of WITSReview made me feel as if I was still in Jo’burg! It just felt so intimate and connected to the University. I really enjoyed it and really appreciate the effort you and your staff put into creating this professional and interesting communication. John Bolitho (BCom 1971, LLB 1975), Australia

Wits University Boat Club buoyant Dear Editor,

Lady Felicia’s legacy Dear Editor, Thank you for yet another remarkable WITSReview. Even though I have been living and working in Australia for more than 35 years, and probably nearing the end of my legal career, I have continued to acknowledge everything that Wits enabled me to do, and to form the lawyer I became.

I was in the 1975 Henley rowing crew; an incredible period of my life. We have just had a 40 year reunion this last July at Henley. Guys came from all over the world and we borrowed a boat and had a few outings on the Thames. The 1980 crew joined us (John Myburgh – son of Bertie Myburgh who was Professor of Surgery at Wits – John Stark, Andy Pike and others, all Witsies of

course); a wonderful experience. We and others really believe that the training we did for Henley in ‘75 was a turning point for SA rowing in general. The stimulus and standards set then put the country on the world rowing map, as the recent Olympics showed. Wynand “Wig” Dreyer was the captain during my Wits days, and he continues to devote a huge amount of time and energy to SA rowing. He is currently involved with getting WUBC into peak form again, and both crews (1975 and 1980) will be doing our bit with financial help. PS. As it was a first for SA (and therefore Wits) I will mention that I was the first South African to summit an 8000m mountain in 1995, Cho-Oyo (8200m), about a Table Mountain lower than Everest. Ian Woods (BSc 1977), Cape Town

Interesting alumni Dear Editor, Kudos on the latest WITSReview (July 2015), full of interesting articles on interesting people. I was intrigued by Dr Ashley Davidoff because of my semi-medical background, as well as being an amateur painter and ceramic sculptor. So I looked him up – fascinating! I was also tickled by the bit on Dr Alan Menter and remembered the time I got a lift down to Cape Town with him – sometime in the early ‘60s.

Errata • Mr Black Illuminated (WR July 2015, pg. 7) incorrectly stated that Bram Fischer led the defence team in the Rivonia and Treason trials. Israel Maisels (BA 1926, LLB 1928, honorary LLD 1978) in fact led the defence team. • 10 Top Witsie Distance Runners (WR July 2015, pg. 27) incorrectly stated that Bruce Fordyce’s best time for a Comrades Marathon win was 5:27:42 in 1988. In fact, he won in 5:24:07 in 1986. We regret the inaccuracies.

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I was supposed to share the driving so he could catch a nap occasionally, but he had a rude awakening in the middle of the night, somewhere in the middle of nowhere, when the car went bumpity-bump and he found we had a flat tyre, which he had to change. On the other hand, I couldn’t understand Dr Fred Sanders’ eagerness to “disown Wits” and reject his BDS. I wouldn’t want to reject my PhD because of what a bunch of hotheads spout at a rowdy meeting. I worked jolly hard for that degree, as I’m sure he did, and nothing will take it away! Dr Jenni Tsafrir (BSc 1960, BSc Hons 1964, PhD 1969), Israel

Accessing evolution for humanity The Editor, The muddled thinking of the expresident of the SRC, Mcebo Dlamini, is a side-effect of the failure of our education system and Wits itself to spread an understanding of evolution and all that it reveals about human beings in the world. We were unfortunate in having a government which clung to false science and wrong ideas of inherited intelligence, using them to establish an unjust society. Apartheid forbade the teaching of evolution in schools and this was combined effectively with its practical policies to keep alive the poisonous ideas of the European conservatives and their Nazi friends, long after they had been abandoned by the rest of the world, especially after the consequences had been seen in the destruction during the Second World War.

Cecil Williams had gone to fetch Mandela from a meeting in Natal and they were returning to Johannesburg. Quoting from the DVD called The Man who Drove with Mandela, the story unfolds as follows:

Contemporary science does not find evidence of separate races yet I wonder how much of this has penetrated our South African culture. A survey of Wits students would, I suggest, reveal that most believe that they belong to a particular race, separate from other races. This belief in separate races is inimical to social cohesion, tolerance, and fairness. It weakens modern scientific thinking and allows more room for flourishing ignorance and superstition to hold our country back. To counter this, why does Wits not make it compulsory for all students to attend a free lecture on evolution at the Origins Centre? All staff should be included.

“Driving a gleaming Austin Westminster, Mandela was able to travel around the country by disguising himself as a chauffeur for an elegant, impeccably dressed white man. That man, Cecil Williams, was a leading Johannesburg theatre director and a committed anti-apartheid freedom fighter.”

It is so horribly depressing to see that the business frenzy has so suffused every aspect of Wits that there is a charge to visit this museum, and a bigger charge to have a guided tour. Charging for entry to any museum is harmful, especially considering the educational deficit we have to make up. Joyce Ozynski (BA Hons 1973), Johannesburg

The Man who drove with Mandela Dear Editor, Deborah Minors’ article (WR March 2015) about the sculpture Release honouring Nelson Mandela at the site where he was captured in 1962, in what was then either Zululand or Natal, is part of the story of that eventful trip which needs to be told in full, and probably needs a sculpture supplemented to honour the man who was with Mandela when the capture took place.

In fact, Cecil Williams was so very much more than that. When WWII started on 3 September 1939, he was teaching English at King Edward VII High School in Johannesburg. He had a flat in Anstey’s Building in Joubert Street and, apart from his gay activities which some of us at the school had heard about, he was involved with the South African Communist Party. He also broadcast on SABC and acted in theatre. When the war started he joined the navy (he was an Englishman) and after the war his political activities increased until the fateful day when he was in the car with Mandela, the whereabouts of whom had been revealed to the South African authorities by those in the USA who didn’t want apartheid to end. Cecil Williams needs to be recorded historically in the South African anti-apartheid struggle, and the DVD of this episode is well worth seeing. Actor Corin Redgrave plays Cecil Williams in the 1998 film directed by Greta Schiller. Mannie De Saxe (BSc Eng Mech 1951), Australia

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SOCIAL ALUMNI ROCK 111TH GEOSCIENCES REUNION The School of Geosciences held its inaugural alumni event on 7 March 2015 to celebrate the School’s 111th anniversary. Over 100 alumni and their partners enjoyed a tour of the new geoscience facilities, which include a seismic research centre and microprobe, as well as a tour of the museum at the Evolutionary Studies Institute and of the petrology lab with 70 microscopes. Lunch at the Wits Club on West Campus included talks about the School’s history and the changing landscape of student funding. The Geoscience Alumni Scholarship fund was duly established. VIEW PHOTOS

A FIRST FOR ZIMBABWE About 80 guests attended the first ever Zimbabwe alumni reunion, held on 25 September at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Harare. Alumni Relations Director Peter Maher presented an overview of the alumni programme and the various ways in which alumni in Zimbabwe could engage with each other and with the University. In his keynote address, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Advancement, Human Resources & Transformation Professor Tawana Kupe (himself Zimbabwean) spoke about research progress and initiatives at Wits that ensured the University was responsive to national and African concerns while remaining globally competitive. Prof. Kupe also pointed out that Wits had produced a large number of graduates who were leaders in politics, business and civil










Wits of

graduates completing

found their

studies. VIEW PHOTOS Top: (L-R) Blessing Mandeya, Phil Kufakwaro, Ray Zvoushe and Tasha Basopo. Left: (Seated L-R) Tatenda Ngandu, Khumbula Mkandla, Trevor Chimombe, –, Precious Chitsunge, Sinini Ndlovu.

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KUDUS STAMPEDE IN PARKTOWN The Wits Road Race, hosted by Varsity Kudus AC and Alumni Relations, took place on Sunday morning, 16 August. A festive carnival atmosphere prevailed as some 2 000 athletes gathered outside Alumni House on West Campus. Wits mascot Kudos Kudu trotted about, lending encouragement. The challenging, hilly, but scenic 21.1km and a 10km race routes traversed Parktown and Westcliff. First man past the line in the 10km race was S Mathabatha (22) in a time of 00:32:11. The first woman home in the 10km was F Mathibela (33) in 00:41:45. M Mazibuko (29) won the 21km in 01:09:41, and P Mlambo (34) was the first woman to finish the 21km in 01:28:00.

On your marks: Mascot Kudos Kudu and athletes ready to run

The road race has been an annual fixture on the Central Gauteng Athletics calendar and Alumni Relations has partnered with the Varsity Kudus since 2011.

HEARTY FUN AT HEALTH GRADUATES’ REUNION The Faculty of Health Sciences and the Health Graduates' Association (HGA) hosted a reunion in Johannesburg from 1 to 3 October 2015. Over 100 alumni participated in an engaging programme that included a morning at Medical School hosted by Brendon Billings, Curator of the Raymond Dart Collection of Human Skeletons. Professor Lionel Green-Thompson, Professor Laetitia Rispel and Sandra Benn conducted a campus tour, and many alumni attended the AJ Orenstein Memorial lecture, “Drones in Health Care”, by Professor Barry Mendelow. Professor Bruce Rubidge led a visit to the Evolutionary Studies Institute, while Dr Dominic Stratford, Research Coordinator at Sterkfontein, showcased the work of Wits scientists. Many alumni also visited Maropeng to meet Homo naledi. The

Seated: (L-R) Mrs Veller, Philippa Veriava, Dr John Callaghan and Dr Ronel Callaghan. Standing: (L-R) Prof. Martin Veller, Prof. Beverley Kramer, Prof. Joe Veriava, Dr Frederick van Gelder and Dr Chris Hammond.

reunion culminated in a gala dinner at the Southern Sun Hyde Park, where the Dean, Professor Martin Veller, and the President of the HGA, Dr Paul Davis, amongst others, addressed alumni. VIEW PHOTOS

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PHILANTHROPY “My time in South Africa impacted me in ways I couldn’t have imagined when I made the decision, at the age of 25, to come here,” Schrier says. “The experience helped shape who I am today. I am better off for it, and I owe South Africa a debt of gratitude.” Schrier says Wits was a natural choice for the Chair. “Wits is and should be one of the most important institutions in Africa and is central to the future of the continent.”



generous donation by a San Francisco couple, Derek Schrier and Cecily Cameron, has made it possible for Wits to endow in perpetuity a new Chair in Development Economics in the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management.

Schrier and Cameron’s gift of $1-million (about R12-million) helps establish the Chair, which was launched in July with

Cameron, a former consultant with McKinsey & Co, adds: “Together we can ensure that Wits continues its commitment to academic excellence, public discourse and an engaged civil society.” Schrier, now Chief Investment Officer at Indaba Capital Management, L.P., graduated from Princeton University, and he and Cameron met during postgraduate studies at Stanford University. Endowments are much more common at leading universities in the US than in South Africa. Schrier and Cameron hope that their endowment will inspire similar initiatives from others with meaningful ties to Wits, including its successful alumni in corporate and professional sectors.

Professor Vishnu Padayachee, Distinguished Scholar at Wits,

Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Adam

as its first incumbent.

Habib says: “We are particularly grateful to

The Derek Schrier and Cecily Cameron Chair in Development Economics aims to foster research into issues such as South Africa’s transition in relation to sustainable development and democracy, macro-economic policy and corporate transformation.

Derek and Cecily for their commitment to South African higher education. This Chair is important not only to producing high quality research, but also to enabling that research to impact on policy and assist South Africa in building an inclusive society. We look forward

Schrier has had a close relationship with South Africa for over

to working with Derek and Cecily to open up

20 years. He came here in 1992 to work with the non-profit,

further support from South African donors

CASE, led by Wits Professor Mark Orkin (BSc Hons 1971, PhD

and philanthropists. There is an urgent need to

1990), and to manage election polls for the ANC’s political

support South African higher education if we are

campaign in South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994.

to retain our standing in the global academy.”

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Above: Derek Schrier. Opposite page: Professor Vishnu Padayachee, new Chair in Development Economics. Credit: Wits University

December 2015 | WITSReview | 9




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Pretoria, South Africa, October 23, 2015: Students during a march to the Union Buildings. Wits student leaders (L-R) Nompendulo Mkhatshwa (incoming SRC President), Vuyani Pambo, Shaeera Kalla (outgoing SRC President), Mcebo Dlamini Photo: Gallo Images Rawhani December 2015 |/ Nicholas WITSReview | 11



rom mid-October the largest and most effective student campaign in post-apartheid South Africa spread from Wits University to campuses across the country. The trigger was

Balancing the books At the same time, Wits Vice-Chancellor Professor Adam Habib repeatedly emphasises that he has to balance the books.

the decision at some universities,

Balancing the budget has become increasingly

including Wits, to increase student

difficult for South Africa’s vice-chancellors, who

fees by over 10% for 2016.

have been appealing to government for years

Social media, particularly Twitter, played a key role in mobilising students around the country and

to address the dire under-funding of higher education institutions.

across party political lines, thus giving rise to its

Without appropriate financial support from

iconic name, "#FeesMustFall", and comparisons

government, universities are battling to compete

drawn with the ‘Arab Spring’ uprising.


While the potency of the protests might have

South Africa is not alone in this. The cost of

come as a surprise, student opposition to the

higher education and the best way to support

increase was not unexpected. Many students and

students to pay for it, especially in times of

their families are stretched beyond their limits.

economic crisis, is one of the most debated public

Undergraduate students need to find about

policy topics in the European Parliament.

R40 000 to R50 000 a year, excluding living costs, to attend university in this country, where fewer than 100 000 South Africans earn more than R1-million a year.

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@Noxxcee tweeted at 2:01 PM , 24 Oct 2015: The students have spoken. Witsies are not happy. CAMPUS SHUT DOWN ON MONDAY.

#FEESMUSTFALL The gauntlet of student power And so, when Wits announced a 10.5% fee increase for 2016, it proved to be a step too far. The gauntlet of student power was thrown down, first at the leaders of the universities, then at the heart of government as thousands of “Born Frees” (South Africans born after the attainment of democracy) marched on parliament and then on the Union Buildings on Friday 23 October, when student leaders and university representatives met with President Jacob Zuma. Underlying the #FeesMustFall protest was not only student dissatisfaction but a rising anger among South Africa’s citizens that the promise of educational and employment opportunities for all has not materialised. As South African economist and Wits alumnus Dr Azar Jammine says: “The #FeesMustFall protests might be the thin end of the wedge that leads to further uprising against the leaders in government, with a call to replace them with leaders who are more sympathetic to the people of South Africa’s needs. “This is why Nkandla is such a symbolic issue. At the heart of it is a

sta_) tweeted at 2:42 AM on Sat, Oct 17, 2015: "You cannot carry out fundamental change without a certain amount of madness" - Thomas Sankara Jammine adds that the

young people of South Africa “are especially fed up


with government leaders feathering their own nests while pandering to the whims of the trade unions, which effectively means favouring an older generation of workers rather than the youth. The average age of trade unionists in South Africa today is 43. The government, business sector and trade unions, by their actions, have marginalised the youth. “It does not add up,” says Jammine. “What it demonstrates is that the leaders in government do not care about the actual needs of the young people of South Africa, and the students are reacting to this. They are being denied a future.” A university degree is one of the surest tickets to a better future.

president who seems only interested in looking after himself, surrounded, in the main, by likeminded ministers and public servants.”

Left page: Pretoria, South Africa, October 23, 2015: Wits University’s newly elected SRC President, Nompendulo Mkhatshwa addresses students during a march to the Union Buildings. Photo: Gallo Images / Nicholas Rawhani

December 2015 | WITSReview | 13

#FEESMUSTFALL Academically deserving students in financial need Prof. Habib is publicly vocal about the need to proactively support academically deserving students in financial need and uplift the poor in our society. “Empathy for the poor should be CREDIT: ZAPIRO, M&G

part of our humanity. The millions of young people in our country who have no employment or educational prospects should be as big a concern to business as it should be to the government because it is a ticking time bomb,” says Habib. “We are all keenly aware of the failures and corruption of government but the business elite need to look equally hard at themselves and realise that their interests and the interests of their


shareholders cannot be to the exclusion of the society they live in.” Mounting social discontent is being expressed through different forms of mobilisation and protest, with an average of 35 protests in South Africa every day, says Belinda Bozzoli, a former Deputy

The symptomatic character of #FeesMustFall Leading voices in the South African and global media have emphasised the symptomatic character of the #FeesMustFall protests.

Vice-Chancellor: Research at Wits, now a member

In an article published in South Africa’s Rand Daily Mail

of parliament and the Democratic Alliance’s Shadow

on 26 October 2015, Editor Ray Hartley wrote:

Minister of Higher Education and Training.

The realities on the ground In an article in Politicsweb, published on 19 October 2015, Bozzoli wrote: “South Africa’s post-apartheid

“We are witnessing a national cry of anguish from the youth – our youth, the children of the new South Africa – against an establishment that has excluded them and marginalised them for decades.

reality has unfolded with massive disconnects

“Take a fresh look at post-apartheid South Africa and

between the provision of the rights enshrined in our

you will see the rise of an anti-youth machine that has

much-lauded Constitution and the realities on the

systematically appropriated the country’s resources at


the expense of the next generation.”

“Students are fed up with not being able to afford

He extended the debate to the schools level:“Education

exorbitant fees, with the conditions they live in, and

legislation opened the doors of schools to all, but it

with state money being wasted through corruption.”

also placed decisions about teacher and headmaster deployment in the hands of the unions.”

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SA AT A TIPPING POINT The effect, said Hartley, “has been massive spending with few results. It was estimated by the National Planning Commission that a child loses up to three years of schooling due to teacher absenteeism alone.” The World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report 2015 ranked South Africa last in the quality of mathematics and science education, lower than Angola, the Dominican Republic and Mozambique. South Africa also finished close to last – 139th out of 143 countries – when looking at the overall quality of its education system.

It is an issue of national concern and as a society we are on the edge of a precipice.

The October student protest enjoyed significant public support and was complimented for its largely peaceful nature in which students set aside their differences and united in a non-racial, non-sexist, nonpolitical platform of protest. There were isolated incidents of violence and a protest strategy of blockading university entrance and exit points, which were strongly condemned, but there were also poignant moments of South African unity where academics, clergy and

The government’s own planning

citizens displayed their support for

commission has laid the problem out

the students.

clearly: “Efforts to raise the quality of education for poor children have

But there is also a sense that we are in uncharted water. Student activism

largely failed,” said Hartley. “Apart

in the fees campaign has been characterised by a new form of protest

from a small minority of black children

which often rejected traditional forms of student leadership for a more

who attend former white schools and

“organic” mass driven one. Traditional forms of negotiation in a neutral

a small minority of schools performing

environment were rejected by protestors in favour of “University

well in largely black areas, the quality

Assemblies” in which university leadership was required to sit and “listen”

of public education remains poor.

and agree to students demands. In such an environment and atmosphere

“Again, the political dysfunction is

there was little room for considered deliberation and compromise.

apparent: Asked to choose between union friends and black school children, the establishment has gone for the former every time.” He noted the high levels of youth unemployment: “The failure to address

Militant student groups have also continued with more aggressive forms of protest on some campuses despite all the agreements reached and which resulted in violent clashes and arrests at the Universities of the Western Cape, University of Johannesburg, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, and the Tshwane University of Technology amongst others.

the problem of youth unemployment

In an open letter, UWC Vice-Chancellor Professor Tyrone Pretorius

and education has spilled over to

said, “I am deeply disturbed that what started out as a laudable national

the streets, where young people are disrupting the power narrative. Their next step will be onto the national political stage, where they will turn up the heat. It can’t happen too soon.”

movement has degenerated at UWC into a violation of the basic rights of others (freedom of choice, right to education, and right to safety and security etc).” In an interview with eNCA news channel on 12 November 2015 after violent clashes continued to take a toll on his campus he said, “We would be truly naïve if we were to choose to look at this as a purely UWC institutional issue. It is an issue of national concern and as a society we are on the edge of a precipice.” December 2015 | WITSReview | 15

Kele Pule (@kele_p) tweeted at 5:38 AM on Sat, Oct 17, 2015: PAGE NAME "@benrwms: One of the lessons of #WitsFeesWILLFall is VCs have no real power. They've only recently realised this themselves. Poor muppets."

Saluting people’s power Student power ultimately triumphed on 23 October when President Zuma, following a crisis meeting with Vice-Chancellors, Chairpersons of Councils,

But Nzimande failed to make public a report that found that free university education for the poor and for all academically deserving students in financial need was indeed possible.

the Minister of Higher Education and Training and

The report, which was handed to Nzimande

representatives of student organisations, agreed

in December 2012, was based on a study by a

that there would be no student fee increase for

working group of university leaders, chaired by

2016 and committed to addressing a package of

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s Vice-

issues that include free education, institutional

Chancellor, Professor Derrick Swartz. It sought the

autonomy and direct employment of currently

best model for free higher education.

outsourced workers such as cleaning and security services.

University of Johannesburg Associate Professor Salim Vally, who was part of the working group,

Wits management has agreed in principle to

told the Mail & Guardian in an article published

insourcing workers and that the children of

on 26 October 2015 that the group had put

outsourced workers who qualify to study at Wits

considerable effort into working on the numbers to

will receive financial aid from the University. A

come up with a feasible model.

commission with representatives of all stakeholders will be established to determine the details of how insourcing could be implemented in a way that ensures the financial sustainability of the University.

Key recommendations (based on 2010 figures when the research was conducted) were that all students who qualified to be admitted to university and came from households earning less than the

Wits also agreed that financially stressed final

lowest tax bracket of R54 200 a year (now

year students in 2015 who owed R15 000 or less

R73 650 a year) should receive free education.

would not be required to pay this amount before

Students from households earning between

graduating, as this might prevent them from

R54 200 and R271 000 should be eligible for free

finding a job.

university education, but should be required to

Minister attracts criticism Meanwhile, the response of the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, to the #FeesMustFall protests has attracted much criticism. He claimed the ANC was the victim of its own successes in admitting so many students to higher education. “Since 1994 we doubled the number of students in higher education,” he said. “Today, we are sitting with about a million university students‚ of which about 72% are black‚ 6% coloured and 5% Indian. One way of putting it is that we are victims of our own successes as the ANC government over the last 21 years.”

16 | WITSReview | December 2015

make some household contribution. Vally told the Mail & Guardian that the working group had proposed to Nzimande that not only their tuition should be paid for, “but the full cost of study necessary for success at university, including registration and tuition fees, meals and accommodation, books and travel”. Questioned why he had not released the report, Nzimande responded that he had sent the report to Treasury, which had said it could not fund the model because it was too costly and would compromise on other budget necessities such as social grants.

The South African government subsidy of


for all 26 public universities CREDIT: RICO, FINWEEK

= 2.3% of total

government spending and ±0.72% of South Africa’s GDP

University funding in SA The South African government’s subsidy of its 26 public universities

Other emerging economies: Russia 1.8%, Argentina 1.4%, Senegal & Ghana (1.4%). Brazil 0.95%, India 1.3%, Cuba 4.5%.

is just over R24-billion, which amounts to 2.3% of total government spending and about 0.76% of South Africa’s GDP. Spending on basic education in 2015/16, by comparison, is estimated at R203 468-million. In his inaugural budget speech on 25 February 2015, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said the total allocations to all post-school education and training over the next three years would exceed R195-billion, increasing at an annual average of 7.1%. University operating subsidies will amount to R72.4-billion over the three-year period. Transfers to universities for infrastructure of R10.5-billion are proposed, including R3.2-billion for the new universities of Mpumalanga and Sol Plaatje.

South Africa’s

expenditure on higher education of total expenditure on education


rest of Africa =20% Member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), including Germany, Australia, Finland, Mexico and Turkey

=23.4% rest of the world=19.8%

“We are mindful of the pressures on student financing at our higher education institutions,” he said. “The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is projected to spend R11.9-billion in 2017/18, up from R9.2-billion in 2014/15. This will support a further increase in university enrolments and in technical and vocational colleges. Progress in the quality of post-school education programmes is clearly critical.” But according to StatsSA, from 2000 to 2012 the government subsidy to higher education dropped from 49% of university income to 40%, student fees increased from 24% to 31% and third stream income from private sources (fund-raising, donations and endowments) remained steady at between 27% and 29%. The number of university students has swelled from 440 000 in 1994 to almost 1-million, with a considerable increase in the number of students

SA university education


Annual average university fee in US dollars for undergraduate international students at the ten largest public universities:

Australia UK Hong Kong China Mexico India

$ 24 081 $ 21 365 $ 13 444 $ 3 844 $ 750 $ 581

who cannot afford the fees. Many students have had inadequate

South Africa is (on average) on a par with China

secondary school education, and require extra support at university or

Source: Moneyweb, 20 October 2015, Hanna Barry

to complete an extra year.

December 2015 | WITSReview | 17


Not repaying loans

WITS SRC #Oct14 (@WitsSRC) tweeted at 9:34 AM on Mon, Oct 19, 2015: A student revolution is brewing! #AllFeesWillFall

An increasing number of students are entirely dependent on loans to finance their university studies but large numbers

“There is a limit to the extent to which

of students are not repaying student

you can keep raising taxes because you

loans in South Africa and in many other

depress the economy if you raise tax rates


too far. A depressed economy means

The NSFAS is struggling to collect money owed by its debtors. Since its inception in 1991, this government scheme has

more job losses, fewer people who can afford higher education and so the vicious cycle continues.

disbursed R50-billion in loans and

“As a true economist I first calculate the

bursaries, assisting 1.5-million students.

costs and affordability,” says Jammine.

Annual loan repayments have been

“The cost of a 0% increase for higher

steadily decreasing, from R636-million in

education fees for 2016 based on the

2010 to R247.5-million in 2015.

consumer price index is somewhere in the region of R3-billion.


“In the broader scheme of things, this figure is not massive. It is less than 0.1% of South Africa’s GDP and 0.25% of the overall government budget, so to find that sort of money should not be too big a problem. In fact we have been told that the SETAs [sector education and training authorities, which are concerned with job skills] have a surplus of a few billion rand,

The Freedom Charter, 26 June 1955

so there it is already.” What about the affordability of free

Free higher education?

higher education? Jammine says: “This is a completely different order

Economist Dr Azar Jammine says there

of magnitude to the 0% increase for

appears to be considerable support

2016. Free higher education would cost

for the ideal of “free” or affordable

South Africa R20-billion to R30-billion

education for all academically deserving

more a year, over and above the current

students in financial need. “We need to

R24-billion. This is very material in terms

qualify ‘free’ here, as there is no such

of the government’s total budget. It

thing as free education. The money has

would be in the order of 2.5% to 4% of

to come from somewhere. If it comes

government’s total budget of R1.25-

from government it is ultimately being

trillion a year, which puts it in the same

paid by South Africa’s small percentage

order of magnitude as a National Health

of taxpayers,” he explains.

Insurance Scheme.”

18 | WITSReview | December 2015

Johannesburg, South Africa, October 19, 2015: Wits staff members support students who are protesting over the increase of tuition fees. Photo: Gallo Images / Beeld / Felix Dlangamandla

Is free education a good idea?


Germany has maintained extremely high educational standards despite dropping tuition fees in 2013 after mass student protests. An article by UK journalist, David Smith in Economy Watch, published on 8 October 2014, explains: “The German Free Education Movement was born when 200 organisations, including student unions, trade unions and political parties, formed the Alliance against Tuition Fees. Students took to the streets all over Germany in response to the seven West German states

that introduced fees in 2006 and 2007. “... By 2013 there were several thousand protesters and public opinion had shifted. The group delivered a petition for a state referendum on higher education policy. It was signed by 1.35-million voters and caused the state’s conservative premier to scrap tuition fees just a few days later.” That is well and good for Germany, but in an article on 23 October in The Conversation Africa, Professor Graeme Bloch, a Wits graduate and visiting Professor at the School of Public and Development Management, said free education was a worthy goal but South Africa wasn’t ready for it yet.

December 2015 | WITSReview | 19

#FEESMUSTFALL “There is not enough money from any source. And government, as the biggest subsidy provider, is not doing well,” he said. He added that it was a challenge that needed to start with a discussion of what tertiary education was for and how many graduates we needed. “Money cannot come from social grants or basic education or health.” Former Professor of Economics at Wits Charles Simkins, who was a consultant to the Council on Higher Education Commission on Tertiary Financing, concurs. In an article published in Politicsweb on 19 October 2015 he wrote: “The government does not have remotely enough money to fund tuition fees, accommodation, meals, books and travel for all students, even if there is an offset contribution related to household income. “At the present level of NSFAS funding, tuition fees can be

WITS SRC #Oct14 (@WitsSRC) tweeted at 6:49 AM on Mon, Oct 19, 2015: It's a beautiful day to execute a revolution. We aren't just angry students making a noise we have a plan & we want change #WitsFeesWillFall


fully funded for all students from households with incomes less than the personal income tax threshold (currently R73 650 per annum). In addition, partial funding of tuition fees on a linearly declining scale is possible up to a household income of R150 000 per annum. But no more.” The director of the Centre for Higher Education Trust, Dr Nico Cloete, argues that free higher education, regardless of income level, would exacerbate inequality in South Africa. He believes the rallying cry should rather be “affordable higher education for all”. He also points to an anomaly in current NSFAS funding policy that helps the poorest in society but ignores those in need from the middle class. A refrain heard from many fee protestors was that we are “too rich” for NSFAS, but “too poor” to afford fees. This problem is aggravated if there are siblings also needing to study and leads to the notion of “black tax”, in which first-generation black middle class families have multiple financial responsibilities that many white middle class families, who have inherited some wealth and may already have university educated family members, don’t have. Cloete warns against shutting the black middle class out of university education. “A productive and well-educated middle class is the glue that holds society together,” he says.

20 | WITSReview | December 2015

Pretoria, South Africa, October 23, 2015: Students march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Photo: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Thulani Mbele

“The #FeesMustFall protests featured in a major article on page three of the New York Times, which is significant,” says Badat. He wrote in Business Day in April this year that the student protests at the University of Cape Town and Rhodes marked the beginnings of a social movement that was likely to gather strength, expand and extend to other universities.

“The universities that we support in South Africa, which includes Wits, can rest assured that a large philanthropic foundation like the Andrew W Mellon Foundation will not be frightened off by the student protests. We have a long-term commitment to transformation in South African universities and will continue to work closely with universities to support their equity and development priorities.”


Dr Saleem Badat is the Programme Director of International Higher Education and Strategic Projects at the Andrew W Mellon Foundation in New York. He was Vice-Chancellor of Rhodes University between 2006 and 2014.


“Students are exasperated and angry at the slow pace of change. Invoking the Constitution, and higher education policies, they are demanding social justice in higher education and the wider society.

Badat supports free education for all academically deserving students in financial need. In an article on free higher education published by the Sunday Independent five years ago (16 March 2010), he wrote: “We should strive to progressively realise free higher education, beginning with those most in financial need, and this should be part of a wider reformulation of our social goals, priorities and policies.”

December 2015 | WITSReview | 21





Wits SRC President 2014/15, Shaeera Kalla (BCom 2015) was on the frontline of #FeesMustFall. She is now a postgraduate Political Science student. “Let it be known and forever remembered that a mobilised youth has the power to radically change South Africa. “Look at where we started and how far we’ve come. Wits – and I dare say, South Africa – will never be the same. “ “The 0% increase for 2016 is a symbolic commitment to free education but it does not


Discipline, good faith and support “We need to remind ourselves to exercise discipline and act in good faith. We shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that, just because we started a movement, everyone will act in good faith. There will always be

address the structural and

opportunists and those who seek to

systematic problems of how our

divide and conquer.”

universities are run. They have failed dismally to ensure they are accessible and empowering for the most marginalised in our society.”

“During the shutdown we received incredible support. A group of academic staff assisted us with food, water and other resources. We had the ‘Gift of the Givers’

“Until government adequately funds higher education,

provide warm meals; we had parents, students and

these protests will become perpetual.”

alumni all providing support. This kept us grounded

Maintaining student unity

– knowing so many people believed in what we were

“The challenge to all students is to maintain our unity. There will naturally be divisions in the student body,

fighting for.”

The campaign continues

and there have been disagreements about the tactics

“As an SRC we encourage students to ‘Protest and

in the #FeesMustFall campaign, but our strategic aims

Pass’. We called on all students to write exams.”

remain the same. “Political contestation and disagreement is important in building political culture. Students will always disagree. What’s important is that the end goal is one that everyone can unite behind.”

22 | WITSReview | December 2015

But Kalla warns that the campaign for free education continues. “We will meet again on the picket lines inside Solomon Mahlangu [Senate] House to finish what we have started.”



Wits: a dynamic, influential university President of Wits Convocation Professor Mamokgethi “Kgethi” Phakeng (BEd 1993, MEd 1996, PhD 2002) is Vice-Principal: Research & Innovation at Unisa. “I’m not at all surprised that the #FeesMustFall protests started at Wits because, as a dynamic, influential university, Wits has always

Panel Services Africa Survey of the 0% increase

been at the forefront of politics and transformation,” says Prof. Phakeng. “Many of us expected something like this was coming, because the political environment is ripe for it. Young people are not

A survey following President Zuma’s announcement of the 0% increase in university fees for 2016 was carried out by Panel Services Africa on their premium online research panel, TellUsAboutIt, comprising 40 000 registered online users. The survey was published by Bizcommunity.

afraid to vehemently speak out about the president and ruling party today, which is something that they would not have done in 1995. It has taken time for the economic reality under the current government to sink in. The Nkandla issue is a metaphor. People are losing jobs, which puts pressure on students, as parents are unable to support them.” “It’s unfortunate that universities have been put in a difficult position; they must remain sustainable yet they support free

opportunities for disadvantaged students. However, there are many other costs universities need to bear, like recruiting topclass black academics to address transformation. The number of black academics is still limited, so you need to recruit them with attractive packages.” “I support free education for those who cannot afford it. Nothing is ever free, and I believe that families who can afford to pay, should. I believe everyone with the financial means should help at least one person to achieve a better education. We cannot live comfortably in a country where there is so much suffering. Let’s make it better together.”


to exclude the poor and VCs have gone to great lengths to create


higher education for the poor. None of the vice-chancellors want

Responses were overwhelmingly positive, with the majority of respondents seeing this as a victory for students and as a wise, beneficial move, given that South Africa needs more university graduates.


it would be beneficial for South Africa because we need more university graduates


it was a victory for students


the government made a wise decision


it was a long-awaited overhaul of education policy


students should be concerned about learning and not other issues


free university education for all was possible



Funding the future BY DEBORAH MINORS

Fifth year Medical School student Sandane Chauke (23), always wanted to come to Wits. “From primary school, I knew,” she smiles. “Wits is where I’m supposed to be.” Sandane’s sister, seven years older and a Wits sociology alumna, had paved the way.


andane was born in Sebokeng Zone 12 township and lived there with her parents and two sisters. Their mother, the primary bread-winner, died when Sandane was 13. The girls were raised by their father, a factory worker at ArcelorMittal. Sandane’s mother had saved early for her daughters’ education and Sandane was able to board at General Smuts High. Here she thrived and matriculated as Dux Scholar in 2010. Both Wits and UCT offered her a place in Medical School. Sandane chose Wits. “It was my first time in Joburg. In my first month I cried all the time. I called my sister all the time,” she smiles ruefully. “I think I took a while to fit in.” Despite the tears, Sandane excelled academically and earned two distinctions in first year. In fourth year, she had an A-average.

24 | WITSReview | December 2015

In 2012, Wits benefactor Bianca Brebnor, 35, (BAcc 2003) invited Sandane to apply for her Pay it Forward bursary. This grant is based on the philosophy of enriching another’s life if you have benefited, rather than repaying your benefactor. Sandane received the bursary in 2012 and 2013. “Fees at Medical School are R120 000 a year,” explains Sandane. “A Department of Health bursary paid R85 000 and Pay it Forward R30 000.” Sandane points out that NSFAS must be repaid. “It’s not a bursary – you get so many letters…” she sighs. “I try not to think about money because it just stresses me out.” She recognises the cost of excellence, however. “Wits is at the forefront of research and research is expensive,” she concedes. “I think to ask for it for free, it’s a big ask. Maybe set a five- to 10-year goal towards decreasing fees.” Ten years ago an impressionable Sandane also recognised the value of reputation. “When you have a Wits degree, for many companies, I think, it carries clout,” she says. “The quality of education at Wits is very good.” Sandane intends to specialise in neurology and will practise in South Africa. “This is home. My community and my family need my help,” she says. And where better to pay it forward?

#FEE PAGE REALITY NAME Meet Tiisetso Rapasa (22), a fourth-year LLB student at Wits. When Tiisetso was a teenager, her caregiver suggested she become a prostitute. At the age of 12, Tiisetso had lost her mother to HIV, and her step-father died later too. Tiisetso shuttled between relatives. “As an orphan, my path was written out for me. I was expected to be HIV+ and drop out of high school,” she says.


Not poor enough BY DEBORAH MINORS


ut Tiisetso’s mother had instilled a philosophy of academic excellence. She left savings from her receptionist job for a good secondary education. Tiisetso was one of just four black learners at the Afrikaans-medium Salomon Senekal High in Viljoenskroon, Free State. She remembers the small-town racism in 2007; cars pulling up alongside her and friends in the street, occupants asking, “Waarom loop jy met ‘n k****r?” (‘Why’re you walking with a k****r?) Tiisetso eventually “fell in love” with the boarding school. It was a respite from a tenuous relationship at home with her aunt, who distrusted Tiisetso’s reticence about her mother’s death. Tiisetso channelled her grief into sports and academia. She earned athletics and hockey colours and regularly placed in the top 10 academically. She matriculated in 2011 with five distinctions, the first black person in the top 10 academically at an Afrikaans high school. Her headmaster gave her money to apply to university. “I received a letter from the Wits VC, delighted to receive my application,” she recalls. Other relatives took Tiisetso under their wing and financed her first year by selling their cars. But by second year the R9300 registration fee was beyond her pensioner relatives. Tiisetso applied to NSFAS but “they rejected me for not being poor enough”.

Ultimately a bank loaned her R47 000. Then Wits began querying outstanding fees. Tiisetso was horrified to discover her loan had been siphoned into an account other than Wits’. Outstanding fees meant she couldn’t advance. She scrambled for funds. As a Dean’s List scholar, she qualified for aid from the School of Law. A small bursary and cash from a cousin made up the shortfall. The School, saving, and working three jobs paid for third year. “I don’t think tertiary education should be free, but it should be accessible,” says Tiisetso. “An increase in fees has such a ripple effect – it stops people’s lives.” Despite the angst, Tiisetso says, “I don’t think a Wits degree should be for free. What is going to differentiate my degree from another institution’s? Wits is good value for money.” In 2016 Tiisetso begins articles at a law firm. Her monthly salary will be R15 000, which must cover rent, transport, food – and R38 000 to Wits. She’s resolute: “I’m alone. This degree is my ticket out of poverty.”

December 2015 | WITSReview | 25





Adrian Carter competes in the Energade Triathlon, Vanderbijlpark






Adrian Carter joined Wits as the Head of Wits Sport in February 2014. His mission is to achieve a high performance sporting culture at Wits to match its academic culture.






He knows what he is talking about. He has 18 years of experience in sports adminis-

“I have this wonderful image in my mind of Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday giving his ‘You’ve got to fight for that inch’ speech,” says Carter from behind his highly organised

tration, a Bachelor of Commerce Honours degree in Sports Management from the University of Johannesburg (UJ), and he is currently studying towards his Master’s degree in Long-term Athlete Development. Before coming to Wits he headed high

desk at the Wits Sport offices on

performance sport at UJ, where he achieved

West Campus. “But instead of Al

remarkable successes by developing sports

Pacino I see Professor Adam Habib in our proposed YouTube version, saying ‘At Wits we fight for that inch’ in his Al Pacino voice.”

talent and systems that enabled sports people to perform at the highest level – which he is now implementing at Wits. “Wits has a wonderful sporting history going back many decades, and my aim is to revive this and build it into a high performance

Competing in the higher academic

sporting force, with specific emphasis on our key sporting codes: football, rugby, basket-

space is all about fighting for that

ball, cricket and hockey,” explains Carter,

inch if you wish to excel, explains

who has the full support of Vice-Chancellor

Carter. “This notably includes

Habib and Wits’ senior management.

sporting excellence, which is a significant marketing vehicle for the University and an integral part of building spirit and prestige.”

WITSReview | December 2015












The six pillars of Carter’s high performance strategy for Wits include:


“Recruiting excellence from first year and in the postgraduate cohort. This has been an

extremely positive year for our recruitment drive. We


“Developing a top class academic support system within Wits Sport, led by our

Academic Support & Recruitment Officer, Kerry Yates,

have developed strong relationships with schools in the

who has a Master’s in Counselling Psychology. This area

greater Gauteng area and beyond, and we’ve hosted

is ably supported by senior management at Wits who

large groups of learners on Wits campus to show them

see academic support and achieving a balanced lifestyle

around the University, what we offer and why they

while at University as an important educational objec-

should come and study here, including discussing the

tive. Kerry screens South African schools sports learners

bursary system we offer.”

from Grade 10, and invites selected candidates and their


“Recruiting top class coaches and top class

families to meet us and discuss what their academic

sports science personnel to support our

support plan will be like if they come to Wits. This year’s

existing personnel with the backup they need to be

recruitment successes can largely be attributed to the

the best coaches on the field, and great mentors and

quality of her recruitment and support. Part of Kerry’s

managers off the field.”

portfolio is to monitor the academic progress of every


one of our elite sports players throughout their degree,

“Creating an elite athlete-friendly University and an elite athlete-friendly policy (which Wits

and to ensure they receive the support they need if they

now has) that allows for flexibility in the academic

are not performing in any subject.”

programme for athletes when they are participating in


regional, national or international sporting events.”


“Developing international relationships with prominent international sporting

“Continuously developing Wits’ world-class

universities, such as the University of Bath in the UK.

academic standing, and its status as the best

We are finalising a formal agreement with the University

academic university in South Africa and Africa, based on

of Bath which we hope will lead to staff and student

the global Centre for World Universities Rankings. Elite

exchange programmes, and to share knowledge and

sports people must be attracted to Wits for the quality

research on sports performance and management

of both its academic and sporting offerings.”

systems. We are aiming to start this exchange in 2016.”




THIS YEAR’S ACHIEVEMENTS Carter’s strategy is already paying dividends and he says Wits’ coaches deserve all the credit for this year’s achievements, which include: • The best year ever for Varsity Football, with the men’s first side reaching the semi-finals, where they lost to the overall winner UWC Football. In 2014, Wits Football did not even qualify for Varsity Football. (Varsity Football is part of Varsity Sports, a high performance competition platform for a number sporting codes, including athletics, hockey, cricket, football, beach volleyball, sevens rugby and netball). • Wits’ first team women’s hockey and netball sides both won their sections in the intervarsity University Sports South Africa (USSA) tournament, and have been promoted to the A section for 2016. • Wits’ first team women’s basketball side reached the USSA finals, where they lost to the Vaal University of Technology. Wits won the tournament in 2014. • Both the men’s and women’s first team basketball sides qualified for Varsity Basketball for 2016. • The first team cricket side is excelling in the local leagues and hopes through the 2015 edition of the USSA cricket tournament to qualify for the televised 2016 Varsity Cricket competition. • Rebuilding the strength of Wits first team rugby through the recruitment of outstanding first year and postgraduate players has significantly strengthened the side. Carter is confident about Wits’ chances of winning the Varsity Shield in 2016 and being promoted to the Varsity Cup.

WITSReview | December 2015



WINNING IS IMPORTANT, BALANCE IS CRUCIAL Wits Sport regards winning as important; there is no question about this. At the same time Carter believes that elite sport students must also perform academically so that they have every opportunity to succeed and take their place in society. “The same applies to all students,” he adds. “Someone who has played sport at university is so much more employable. Companies are inundated with applications from graduates, and it is well known that they are interested in candidates who are not only academically capable but who also have strong people skills, who have demonstrated their abilities as a team player and who have engaged in community activities to help others.” A strong proponent of community engagement, in 2014 Carter completed the Salomon Skyrun – South Africa’s toughest 100km mountain run – to raise funds for academically deserving sports students in financial need.



Wits Sport is on a major fundraising drive for sports

“Transformation must happen far more intensively, from

scholarships and bursaries, in partnership with the

our schools to our universities, with talented players

Fundraising Office, alumni, business leaders and donors.

identified at schools and brought into our universities

“If we want to attract students with great sporting ability to Wits we have to be able to match the range of sports scholarships and bursaries that other top sporting universities offer to compete for that inch, and at the same time to advance transformation in sport,” says Carter.


where they have every opportunity to succeed in their academic and sporting career, and who can feed into our provincial and national systems.”




Wits Junction will help to accommodate the growing


number of sports students, and a new sports residence

Research-wise, Wits Sport is partnering with Wits’

is planned for about 250 students.

Centre for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine in the

“We hope to partner with the Golden Lions rugby

Faculty of Health Sciences, headed by Adjunct Professor

team at Wits Junction; their players will stay here and

Demitri Constantinou.

use our facilities. It’s an absolute banker when it comes

“The scope for research is endless,” says Carter. “As

to recruiting, and our intention is for the majority of

Prof. Constantinou says: ‘If you think of Wits Sport you

Golden Lions players who are accommodated to be Wits

will think of Wits Sport Science, the one cannot proceed

students down the line,” says Carter.

without the other.’ This is high performance research and practice at its best.”

WITSReview | December 2015









Crew members of the 1975 Wits

Despite some of the 1975 crew not

University Boat Club (WUBC) reunited at

having been in a boat for 40 years, they

the Royal Regatta, Henley-on-Thames,

soon managed to get a row sitting in

England 40 years after racing there

their original seat formation.

in 1975. Nine of the original party of 11 crew members and their partners convened in the village of Hambleden from 2-5 July 2015. Stuart Cutler (BProc 1984), cox of the 1980 crew, which also


attended, was the primary convener. Dave Van Rensburg (BSc Eng Civil 1958), at 5 in 1975 and 4 in 1980, recalls: “I was given the book Boys in the Boat by one of my kids and it made me think of my life growing up in the WUBC. I joined the WUBC in January 1974, aged 17…The Boat Club became my family and has had an immense effect on my life.”



Lothar Dan (BSc Eng Civil 1978), the WUBC captain in 1975, remarked: “A lot has been said about our reunion and how great it was and what a tremendous bunch of people the Boat Club produced. Maybe Wits helped a little?!” Wynand “Wig” Dreyer (BSc Eng Civil 1975), at 3, concluded: “Until our reunion, I had not appreciated just how important ‘75 was to the Boat Club and to us as individuals. I add my thanks to all of you great guys for doing the hard yards that set the principles and the value system that propelled the WUBC

At Henley, the crews reminisced over

– and us – to unprecedented heights.

lazy breakfasts and leisurely dinners.

We acknowledge similarly great guys

Every morning both crews were rowing

in ‘78, ‘80, ’83; a purple patch in Wits’

in an 8 or a 4.

rowing history.”

In a row: (L-R) The 1975 eight: Matt Lankers, stroke (President), Lothar Dan at 3 (captain), Ian Woods at 2, and Alistair McLaren (bow)




CUB SIMBA CONQUERS KARATE Simbarashe “Simba” Tevera (BA 2015) was the only

group, which is my aim. I am very proud to have

senior brown belt selected to represent South Africa

represented the country and the University.”

at the JKA Africa Cup held in Johannesburg on 26 September 2015. The 22-year-old learnt the day before that he would have to compete in the men’s open division – comprising black belts and Senseis (instructors) and men aged up to 39 years – as no brown belt or under-25 division existed.

Simba began karate in earnest in grade 10. It was at Wits that the value system of the martial art began to resonate – character, ethics, loyalty, and honour. In 2012, while reading Psychology, Simba joined the Wits All Styles Karate Club. He graduated in April 2015 with an academic merit award, a Mandela

“I was one of the youngest in the group and

Rhodes Scholarship and a 20-medal record haul

definitely the lowest ranked with the least

under his brown belt after just three years.

experience,” says Simba. He didn’t win but was awarded national colours and was the only senior brown belt to qualify for the national side and then be “promoted” to compete in the open division.

On 1 October, Wits Sports awarded Simba Wits Full Blue Cum Laude colours, the highest individual honours the University bestows, and he won the Mel Siff Sportsmanship Trophy. Earlier this year

“What a privilege that was for me to gain such

Simba was named as one of the M&G’s Top 200

experience,” says Simba. “I wasn’t disappointed at

Young South Africans. He is currently pursuing his

all. Being young, I have a lot of time on my side to

Honours in Organisational Psychology at Wits.

eventually be one of the best in Africa in that age

WITSReview | December 2015





AT 92 YEARS OF AGE, WITS ARCHITECTURE ALUMNUS DAN ROBINSON DOESN’T NEED TO RECALL HIS ROWING YEARS, BECAUSE HE IS STILL ROWING. “I can’t carry my own boat down steep banks anymore so I get my grandson or someone to carry my boat for me, but once I’m in the water I’ll row against anyone,” says oarsman Robinson, who learnt to row at Wits when he returned from service in World War II. He graduated in 1950 and went on to design many buildings for Wits. “The sporting scene at Wits during my time was mainly cricket and rugby but there was a rowing club, the Wits University Boat Club, which I joined because I’m no good at ball games. Most of your rowing men are useless at ball games, and it’s a sport you do sitting down, so you can keep doing it all your life,” he explains. He is demonstrating on his rowing machine at his home in Parktown North, which he shares with his wife, Moyra, who has a Diploma in Quantity Surveying from Wits (1959).




The Wits University Boat Club’s home waters were at Rand Leases on the West Rand during Robinson’s time. “Rand Leases was a mining company and the owners granted us use of their lake and a clubhouse with a sprung floor, where we would hold dances. Everyone wanted to come, and we let them in at a price or if they had a nice-looking sister.” Wits won the annual intervarsity boat race in 1948 and 1950. “The University of Cape Town, Rhodes University


and the University of Natal were the big enemies, terrible people,” says Robinson. “It was hard work to win the title; we would leave varsity at four or five in the afternoon, then head all the way to Rand Leases and row until it was pitch dark.” The reward was a quart of Stag Beer in the pub afterwards, at a cost of one shilling. “In those days we had the Stag Brewery,” he recalls. In 1951 Robinson and a group of his Wits peers who had graduated at the same time decided to form a graduate rowing club, and the Viking Rowing Club was born. “We opened it to all ex-university men from anywhere in the world and from 12 of us it quickly grew to 45. We were

In December 2013 an article in the Northcliff-Melville Times read: At 90, Dan Robinson, one of the founders of the Viking Rowing Club, set a new definition for the title “grand master” when he competed in two races in the South African Masters’ Rowing Regatta at Wemmer Pan, Johannesburg. Robinson’s first race was in a coxless quad event, where he lined up at the start with his crew comprising Wal Dean (79), Mike Martinson (86) and John Price (83).

initially based at Rand Leases but when it was demolished to

Later, 86-year-old Andy Mayer and Dean pitted

make way for townships we moved to Wemmer Pan, where

their strength against Price and Robinson as

we still are now.”

they competed in a double sculls event, where

To date Robinson has rowed for 70 years, proving his claim that you can row all your life. “You can also take it up at any age,” he adds, pointing at Moyra, whom he finally con-

Price and Robinson clocked in at 3 minutes 58 seconds after rowing down the 702m Wemmer Pan course.

vinced to take up rowing when she was 63. “It took me nine

Martinson and Mayer were two members of

years to convince her to marry me and quite a few more

the Wits University Boat Club crew in which

to convince her to taking up rowing, but once she did she

Robinson rowed in 1946 on his return from

excelled at it and went on to win the Munich World Games

wartime service.

in her age group,” he says.

“It seems we’re getting old, the average age of

Moyra had to stop rowing in 2002 after a car accident, but

that quad today is 86,” Robinson smiles. “We

Dan has not only continued but is still competing in regattas

still very much enjoy it; the only difficulty is to

in his nineties.

find people of our age to compete.”

Note: The Wits University Boat Club was established in 1924 and is one of the oldest rowing clubs in South Africa.

So if you’re in this age group and thinking of taking up rowing, let Dan know.

WITSReview | December 2015


Mark Middlewick, 28, is a Hollywoodexperienced filmmaker rooted in Jo’burg. He’s a proud Witsie with a BA Dramatic Arts degree (2010). His script The Mascot was a winner in the Jameson First Shot short film competition, enabling its production in Los Angeles by Academy Award winners Kevin Spacey and Adrien Brody.

Telling stories in Hollywood BY DEBORAH MINORS

36 | WITSReview | December 2015

Q & A

Q & A


The Mascot is the story of Adam, who takes his job as a basketball team mascot very seriously. When he is fired, he decides to confront his replacement. Why such an American-type film? A lot of South Africans ask why The Mascot isn’t set in South Africa, but because of the nature of the competition, and shooting in LA, I had to set it in America. The Mascot is not something you’d necessarily understand in this country. I normally make work that’s only based in South Africa, like music videos for Matthew Mole and Nakhane Touré, and my previous short films, such as

It’s frustrating for me. You’ve got to study the art! If you want to make films that push the envelope, you have to have people graduate who understand the history of cinema.

What’s the reality of “Tinsel Town”? The new thing in LA is a lot of actors are Uber drivers. For them it’s perfect, because you can turn it off, go to an audition, turn the app back on. And it’s amazing; you jump in a cab and the driver’s someone with a story. It’s probably the filmmaker in me, but I always wind up talking to them. I spoke to an Iranian immigrant who’d been in Syria in the war.

Security. I want to make films here. I keep saying that.

What are Kevin Spacey and Adrien Brody like?

And Kevin says that’s exactly what he wants to hear

Kevin is a thespian through and through. He [was]

from a creative. He doesn’t want to see another story

the creative director of the Old Vic in London, and I

about LA.

think that’s where the British sensibility comes from,

How does South African filmmaking compare to Hollywood?

because he spends so much time there. He definitely

I was a script-reader when I went across the first time.

scholarship programme, so he’s big on the arts.

I worked at a company that did Wedding Crashers. Everything I read was awful. And it was really eyeopening, that there wasn’t this huge gap between me and “them” or “us and them”.

doesn’t do it for the money. He’s such a nice guy. He’s got two programmes, this [First Shot] and a theatre

Adrien’s an interesting guy, a very intense personality. He’s also quite a lone wolf; keeps to himself. I was quite apprehensive the first day wanting to adjust something, performance-wise, and you think to

When I went to shoot The Mascot, I also found on

yourself, it’s Adrien Brody! He’s worked with Roman

a production level there wasn’t a huge gap either.

Polanski, who’s one of my idols. Adrien on set was

That’s the thing that I’ve learnt and I spoke to Kevin

actually very open to what I gave him – I was very

about it: you can have hundreds of DOPs, hundreds of

surprised. It takes a lot of trust.

producers, etc., but the big thing’s story-tellers. You

How has your Wits training influenced you as a filmmaker?

need ideas and it doesn’t matter what language it is, or what country it’s from.

I loved Wits. I thought I was going to be an academic

I’ve lectured at AFDA and City Varsity. I went there

actually. Wits TV at the time had an amazing Head of

because they needed an academic leaning to their

School, Taku Kaskela. The thing I got taught – and I’ve

film schools. The big complaint – and you see it when

noticed other Wits people do well – is the theoretical

you go to the States although I’ve heard it across the

side and the creative side; that all comes from Wits.

board – is that, technically, our work looks amazing,

I’m a filmmaker, but I also see myself primarily as an

but the big gap is story-telling and theory.

artist, because I’ve been versed in the arts.

December 2015 | WITSReview | 37


38 | WITSReview | December 2015


Wits alumnus and SRC President (2010/11) Mukovhe Morris Masutha is helping hundreds of students from rural areas and townships throughout South Africa to succeed at university.


the gap December 2015 | WITSReview | 39



ukovhe Masutha is a model

Like millions of South Africans, he grew up

Wits graduate – his qualities

without any educational or financial advantages.

of commitment, humanity and intelligence extend far beyond himself and his achievements.

In 2010, while he was a Wits student and SRC President, he established an educational NGO called the Thusanani Foundation, of which he is now the CEO.

grandmother, Vho Nyamuka, after my mother found work as a cleaner in the closest town, Thohoyandou, in 1989,” he explains. “My grandmother never went to school but she made sure I took my education very seriously and instilled in me a belief that I could do anything in

Thusanani is currently assisting 541 students from rural areas and townships to secure bursaries or loans, and the recipients have a phenomenal track record of success in a wide range of disciplines at 20 universities throughout South Africa, with many achieving distinctions.


“From the age of one I was raised by my

What is the key to such success? “Discipline.

the world.” She is still alive today to witness what her grandson, now 26, has achieved, although she doesn’t like it when he travels far from home. He is now doing his PhD at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom.

Taking over Professor Habib’s job

Discipline is the basic of

“Fortunately I’m able to spend a lot of time in

basics. Without it you

South Africa as I am doing a research doctorate

cannot flourish in any

on Higher Education Management in South

degree, profession or life in

Africa. I’m working towards taking over Professor

general, which is why the

Adam Habib’s job at some stage!”

Thusanani Foundation’s

He smiles but he is serious about playing a

motto is ‘Let your marks pay your fees’,” he replies. Masutha says he realised the importance of discipline as a student and started studying hard. “I never wanted to return to my home village – Mapate in rural Venda – without something to show for myself, and something that could help other young people to get to university and succeed.”

40 | WITSReview | December 2015

leading role in higher education, and he aims to do this through Wits. “Wits is my home,” he says. “When people ask me where I am from, I say I am from Wits because Wits took me from being someone who could hardly speak English to a successful, wellrounded scholar and SRC President who could speak to large audiences and at conferences and sound like I knew what I was saying.” Today, Masutha sits on a number of higher education committees such as the Council Readmissions Committee at Wits.



Men’s Res – a name I say with pride “It is important for me to sit on this council because I almost failed my first year as

that contained a template letter on how to apply for university bursaries. “It helped you sound like you knew what you were saying, but I also paid very particular attention to the entrance requirements,” Masutha recounts.

a result of not understanding

After being accepted to study at a number of

how the credit system works,”

South African universities, he applied for no

he explains. “I also regularly

fewer than 63 bursaries. He was turned down

return to my residence, Men’s

62 times.

Res – a name I say with pride – to talk to students about how best to advance at university and how to access and apply for available funding and bursaries. Everyone needs someone in life who is prepared to guide them or give them a break.”

“I was about to give up when my mother told me she had seen an advert in the Sowetan newspaper for a bursary that the Limpopo government was offering,” he recalls. “I was despondent about my chances by then but I got it and I made my way to Wits, with everything covered: my tuition, my books and my accommodation in Men’s Res. It was an unbelievable feeling and I am ever grateful to

His breaks in life included

Thaba Mufamadi, the then MEC of Economic

his grandmother’s belief in

Development in Limpopo, who made this

him and a chance meeting


with a medical student from the University of Pretoria, named Leanne Brady, who came to his village with a group of volunteers from the Southern African Student Volunteers Organisation. They tutored mathematics and science to learners there and helped build classrooms and a clinic. “I was a schoolboy at the time and I saw this bunch of white people in my village, so I went to find out what they were doing and met Leanne, who is today a doctor in Cape Town and with whom I struck up a friendship. From

Masutha graduated with a BA in Economic Geography, followed by a BSc Honours in Geography, Food Security and Environmental Management, followed by an MSc in Small Enterprise Development and Local Economic Development from the University of Johannesburg. “My mission today is to ensure that everyone growing up in a rural area or township realises that this does not condemn you to poverty,” he explains.

then on she mentored me and gave me advice

“Many people have no idea how difficult it is

about how to get to university.”

for a learner from the rural areas or townships

200 envelopes and 200 stamps

to find their way to university – from getting hold of and filling out the application form to

Another break presented itself when an aunt

looking for funding to adapting to campus and

of his gave him 200 envelopes, 200 stamps,

the higher education environment, including

and R1000 for application fees, plus a book

attending lectures in English.

December 2015 | WITSReview | 41


Top: (L-R) Mr Mduduzi Manana (Deputy Minister: Higher Education and Training), President Jacob Zuma, and Mr Masutha Mukovhe Right: (L-R) Wits Profs. Maria Marchetti-Mercer (School of Human & Community Development), Andrew Crouch (DVC: Academic), Mr Mukovhe Masutha, Prof. Mamokgethi Phakeng (Convocation President), and Mr Siphile Buthelezi (Thusanani Foundation Advisory Board)

The odds are stacked against rural and township youth “The odds are stacked against rural and township youth. This reality pushes more and more of our youth into the NEET category, or what I like to call the NEET Tragedy. These are young people who are ‘Not in Education, Employment or Training’.” Of the “lucky and privileged few” who manage to access institutions of higher learning and training, he says: “Over 50% drop out without completing their studies, both in universities and technical vocational education and training colleges. I wanted to do something to help change this and that’s when I sat down with a fellow Wits student and friend of mine, Ntandokabawo James, and we worked out the model for the Thusanani Foundation.”

42 | WITSReview | December 2015


Model in hand, Masutha’s first call was the then

Fifty percent of these students are women and over

Dean of Students, Prem Coopoo, who was extremely

50% are funded through the National Skills Fund.

supportive and provided the seed funding to cover the car hire and B&B accommodation in the rural areas. Mustering a team of student volunteers, they headed into the rural areas during their student vacation, initially helping 10 students from five schools to get into university in 2011.

50% of the students are women Operating on a budget of R300 000 a year for the first three years, they managed to attract a range of partners and funders to ensure that the 541 students

The Foundation currently has 1200 volunteers and they are working towards assisting 1000 students. “The Thusanani Foundation was officially launched at Wits on 10 November 2014 by President Jacob Zuma, Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, Mduduzi Manana, Professor Adam Habib and the President of Wits Convocation, Professor Kgethi Phakeng, who is a member of our advisory board,” says Masutha. “It was wonderful, there were hundreds of people; it was like a mass meeting!”

who are currently in 20 South African universities are fully funded through bursaries and loans.

December 2015 | WITSReview | 43


The Thusanani Foundation Model Motto:

‘Let your marks pay your fees’

“We bridge the gap between the rural areas and townships and universities, starting with learners from as early as Grade 9,” says Masutha.


ur approach is if you give us five bursaries we will give you five academically deserving students who have been guided since Grade 9. If you are a law firm, for example, you can stipulate that you want law students and that the bursary recipients need to do their articles with you. “While the learners are still in school we host winter school programmes to improve their matric pass rates and we help them to pursue funding or bursary opportunities. Once they are at university we host on-campus programmes, including computer and English literacy skills development, to help them succeed in their studies. “We also have a mentorship programme where a third year student mentors a first year, to show them the ropes, show them around campus, show them how the university and res system works, and help them with their studies.” Complementing this model is the personality of Masutha. He is charismatic, with an exceptional ability to network – from President Jacob Zuma to local and international higher education partners, including Wits University and Georgia State University. The Jacob Zuma Foundation funded the first two Thusanani Foundation students at Wits, and they are Thusanani’s first two graduates: Kholofelo Phahlamohlaka and Mfundo Khumalo. Phahlamohlaka is the Foundation’s first graduate in Nuclear Physics.

Wits Alumni on Thusanani’s Board Two Wits alumni have been part of Thusanani from inception and now sit on Thusanani’s Board. Tshibvumo Sikhwivhilu (BSc Eng 2013) is currently pursuing his MBA in Renewable Energy through Wits Business School. Ntandokabawo James (BA 2011, BSc Hons 2012, MSc DP 2014) is working for the City of Tshwane while pursuing his PhD in Renewable Energy through the Engineering Faculty at Wits.

44 | WITSReview | December 2015

THUSANANI FOUNDATION MIN’ENTLE MTHELELO SECOND YEAR CHEMICAL ENGINEERING “When I was in high school, at Little Flower School in Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal, a former learner, Lusanda Njenge, who has a PhD in Engineering Management from the University of Johannesburg, came and gave us a motivational talk. I went to speak to her afterwards and she gave me her contact details. I followed up and she became my mentor after that. She was the Chief Operating Officer of Thusanani at the time.


“I worked hard to achieve the results required for entry to Wits, which I got, but I simply could not find funding. I spoke to Lusanda about this and she suggested I apply through Thusanani, which I did, and I was fortunate to receive a National Skills Fund bursary.

“It was exciting and nerve-racking moving to Joburg and into my residence, Medhurst Hall, and to get used to being at university. What helped is that I met up with other Thusanani students who showed me the way. “I also met Mukovhe and I could not believe how humble he was and how he remembered all the Thusanani students’ names. He encouraged us to email him if we had any problems and he encouraged me to pursue my Master’s, which I am going to do. I am now a Thusanani volunteer because the biggest thing I have learnt from Mukovhe is selflessness. He puts others first all the time, and even though he was so young when he started Thusanani, he knew what he needed to do.”

BENEFITING FROM THUSANANI HUMBELANI MASIKHWA SECOND YEAR BSC GEOLOGICAL SCIENCES “When I was in Grade 10, volunteers from Thusanani came to our school and explained what we needed to do to get to university, and how to apply for loans and bursaries. “It was a giant shift from the reality of my environment, where you would be accused of trying to act cool if you spoke English. “I really wanted to study at Wits, so I used to go and study at a friend’s home where they had electricity, which we didn’t. My mom, who is a primary school teacher, also encouraged me to get good marks. “Wits accepted me and I managed to secure an NSFAS loan, but it hadn’t

come through by the time I needed to register for first year. So I phoned Mukovhe and asked him what to do. He organised a place for me to stay with one of the Thusanani volunteers and my registration was covered until my NSFAS funding came through, and I could move into my residence at Wits, Ernest Oppenheimer Hall, which is amazing. “Thusanani and Wits have given me the edge. The opportunity to study here and meet motivated people from so many different cultures and backgrounds is inspiring. I had no idea what an institution like this could offer and I am now a volunteer so that I can help others.”

December 2015 | WITSReview | 45


The shoulders of giants What Homo naledi means to Wits BY DEBORAH MINORS

Homo naledi graduated into modernity at a press conference at Maropeng, Cradle of Humankind, Gauteng, on 10 September 2015. This new species of early human, discovered by Witsie Prof. Lee Berger and his Rising Star expedition, catapulted Wits into headlines worldwide.

46 | WITSReview | December 2015



he discovery is ground-

Applications flooded in from around

breaking not just for

the world. Six women of the right build

the insights it provides

and with the right qualifications were

into our origins, but

selected as the lead scientists with

because the researchers

over 50 other cavers, scientists, safety

surmise that this species

personnel, and assistants backing them

intentionally disposed of

up. They risked their lives to recover

its dead – a practice previously thought

the fossil material from “some of the

to be unique to humans.

most difficult and dangerous conditions

The discovery has implications for the evolution of Wits. It builds on the foundations laid by giants of palaeoanthropology at Wits since 1923,

ever encountered in the search for human origins”, says advance scientist Dr Marina Elliott, a Wits post-doctoral student under Berger’s supervision.

and continues the University’s world-

The expedition unearthed multiple

leading tradition in the field.

skeletons from the cave named

Slender spelunkers and the Chamber of Stars

Rising Star. In the bowels of the cave,

The H. naledi story begins in 2013 – or,

“star” in SeSotho), the “underground

more accurately, in 1923. “In fact, it was 90 years of exploration started by [Professor Raymond] Dart,” says Professor Lee Berger, Research Professor in Human Evolution and the Public Understanding of Science at Wits, at H. naledi's introduction to the world in September 2015. “We stand on the

down into the Dinaledi Chamber (Chamber of Stars – “Naledi” means astronauts”, as they became known, excavated the largest ever haul of fossil hominins on the continent of Africa. Thirty early-career scientists were enlisted to analyse more than 1 500 fossils. “Analysis requires human beings to conduct the work. Bones don’t speak

shoulders of giants.”

for themselves,” smiles Berger. The

In 2013 Berger put out a call on

15 individuals revealed the likelihood of

Facebook for spelunkers (cave explorers). His brief was specific: he needed palaeoscientists who had a slim physical

subsequent scrutiny of the remains of the new human species of our genus, Homo.

build able to access an 18cm (7 inch) wide cave opening deep underground.

December 2015 | WITSReview | 47


Almost human These 15 individuals indicate a range of ages from infant through adolescent to mature adult. H. naledi had long legs and a slender frame, stood around 1.5-metres (5 ft) tall and weighed about 45kg. H. naledi exhibits a blend of primitive and human features. The brain is relatively small – about the size of an orange. Holding the tiny skull in his palm, Berger said it was approximately one-third the size of today’s human brain. The many complete dental sets found among the fossils show H. naledi had teeth similarly described for the earliest-known Homo habilis. Most of the features of the skull are similarly primitive, as are the hips. The extremely curved finger bones and the shoulders, which resemble an ape’s, are built for climbing. By contrast, the foot is very human; virtually indistinguishable from our own. This suggests that the species was equipped to walk long distances. H. naledi's hands and wrist bones have a very human thumb and gripping finger tips, which suggest the capacity to use tools.

The case for ritualised behaviour

BONES OF CONTENTION H. naledi is ground-breaking because it is a discovery of hundreds of fossils that provide fascinating insights into human evolution. Like all major discoveries of human ancestors though, the discovery is not without controversy. Some scientists have spoken in the media, questioning whether H. naledi is a new species or just a more primitive member of an already recognised species of hominin, H. erectus. Others are uncomfortable with the hypothesis that H. naledi deliberately disposed of the dead. Berger responds to these critics that science is a process and he and his team of scientists eagerly await these scientists’ publication of their criticisms in the peer-reviewed literature so that the discussion of this fascinating discovery can continue and lead to a greater understanding of our African origins. 48 | WITSReview | December 2015

Arguably most notable about H. naledi is the context of the discovery, which led researchers to conclude that this primitive-looking hominin may have practised a form of behaviour previously thought to be unique to humans – intentional body disposal, or “ritualised” (repeated) behaviour. Here’s why: 1. The H. naledi fossils were found underground in an inaccessible, isolated chamber. Accidental access is impossible. 2. The Chamber is so remote that only about a dozen of the fossils recovered are not hominin (they are mouse and bird remains). This is unprecedented in the fossil hominin record. 3. The H. naledi fossils bear no marks of scavengers, carnivores, or other non-hominin agents. 4. There is no evidence of natural processes, such as moving water, having carried these fossils. 5. The bodies did not come in at the same time, but over a period of time. 6. In the absence of any other way to explain the context of the fossils, ritualised deposit of the dead is the most likely hypothesis.

PAGE NAME (BSc 1946, BSc Hons 1947, MBBCh 1950, PhD Science 1953, DSc 1967, honorary DSc 1994)

1925 1959



(honorary DSc 1964)

• 1925 Discovers the first ever australopithecine, Australopithecus africanus, the skull of a four-yearold, named “The Taung Child” • 1925-1943 Dean of Anatomy at Wits • 1948 Names the second Australopithecus, A. prometheus, found at Makapansgat



(PhD Science 1973, honorary DSc 1997)

• 1945 Vertebrate palaeontologist, James Kitching, joins the BPI as its sole employee • Lauded as “the greatest fossil finder in the world” by Dr Broom • 1987 Prof. Kitching becomes Director of the BPI • 1998 James Kitching Gallery established at Wits



• 1959 Mary Leakey and Louis Leakey invite Tobias to compile the monograph describing their discovery of the speciman Zinjanthropus, “Nutcracker Man” • Succeeds his mentor, Raymond Dart, as Head of Anatomy at Wits (Tobias pictured with cast of Olduvai fossil) • 1964 Tobias, Louis Leakey and John Napier describe and name Homo habilis, “the Handyman”. Tobias produces a related two-volume monograph



• 1922 Joins the newly-established Wits University as Professor of Anatomy. Mentors Phillip Tobias

RON CLARKE & “LITTLE FOOT” (PhD Science 1978)

• 1997 Ron Clarke and his assistants Stephen Motsumi and Nkwane Molefe discover the most complete Australopithecus skeleton with skull to date, Australopithecus prometheus, named “Little Foot” • 2015 Professor and Reader in Palaeoanthropology at Wits, Clarke concludes 17 years’ excavation, preparation and reconstruction of “Little Foot” • Clarke’s career of cleaning and reconstructing hominid and other fossils over half a century earns him the moniker “palaeo-surgeon”

(honorary DSc 1933)

• 1936 Discovers the first Australopithecus adult cranium (reconstruction pictured) in Sterkfontein • 1945 Broom’s work enables establishment of the Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research at Wits (BPI) • 1947 Co-discovers with John Robinson an adult Australopithecus africanus skull, “Mrs Ples” • 1949 Broom and Robinson name the first early Homo fossil, Telanthropus capensis, at Swartkrans


LEE BERGER & “KARABO” (PhD Science 1994, DSc 2014)

• 2010 Announces discovery of Australopethicus sediba, named “Karabo” (“Answer”)

December 2015 | WITSReview | 49


Evolution of an institute The Evolutionary Studies Institute, Wits University

In 2013 the Bernard Price Institute of Palaeontological Research (BPI) and the Institute for Human Evolution merged to become the Evolutionary Studies Institute (ESI). Professor Bruce Rubidge, a Karoo palaeontologist and former Director of the BPI, became interim Director of the ESI. As one of Wits’ 21st Century Institutes and a DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Palaeosciences, the ESI is an African Centre of Excellence for the comprehensive study of the evolution of life on Earth. The ESI: • is the foremost palaeontological training centre in Africa • researches Karoo palaeontology, palaeoanthropology, palaeozoology, palaeobotany, and archaeology • has 12 NRF-rated scientists, including three A-ratings and one P-rating • produces over 80 research publications annually • houses the largest fossil collection in Africa including hominins, and Palaeozoic and Mesozoic vertebrates • houses the largest palaeobotany herbarium in the Southern Hemisphere • discovered the oldest dinosaur eggs and nests, and the earliest sauropod dinosaurs Karoo fossil fascination: Professor Bruce Rubidge, interim Director of the Evolutionary Studies Institute

50 | WITSReview | December 2015

• was central to having the Cradle of Humankind declared a World Heritage Site



WITS’ HOMININ HEROES DR LUCINDA BACKWELL (MSc 2000) Senior Researcher (NRF C-rated). Hominin taphonomist and bone tool expert



PROF. LEE BERGER (PhD 1994, DSc 2014) Research Professor in Human Evolution & Public Understanding of Science (NRF B-rated). Hominin osteology and taxonomy


PROF. KRISTIAN CARLSON Senior Researcher (NRF B-rated) Functional morphology and changes in limb structure during hominin evolution DR TEA JASHASHVILI Researcher. Human evolution and palaeoanthropology DR JOB KIBII (MSc 2001, PhD 2005) Senior Researcher. Hominin postcranial studies and hominid/non-hominid faunal communities DR BRIAN KUHN Senior Researcher. Palaeozoologist and permit holder of Taung, site of first Australopithecine found (1924) DR CHRISTINE STEININGER (MSc 2003, PhD 2011) DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Palaeosciences & ESI Projects Manager. Acidification of the hominin landscape


PROF. FRANCIS THACKERAY Phillip Tobias Chair in Palaeoanthropology (NRF C-rated). Early hominin cranial morphology and taxonomy DR BERNHARD ZIPFEL (PhD 2005) Senior Collections Curator (NRF C-rated). Hominin postcranial studies and evolution of bipedalism


December 2015 | WITSReview | 51


Places to visit at Wits ADLER MUSEUM OF MEDICINE


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

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



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.

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.

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 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

MAROPENG, THE CRADLE OF HUMANKIND AND THE STERKFONTEIN CAVES 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


52 | WITSReview | December 2015




December 2015 | WITSReview | 53





A Jacana Pocket Biography: Nelson Mandela, by Professor Colin Bundy

This Is How We Do: How Women Work through Obstacles to Get into Executive and Board Positions, by Liz Makoma Ditshego

Professor Colin Bundy (BA Hons 1967) is an eminent South African historian. He was a Rhodes Scholar

Liz Makoma Ditshego holds a BA (1993) from Wits,

in 1968 and a Beit Senior Research Scholar at St

a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Policy and Develop-

Antony’s, Oxford, where he earned his doctorate

ment Management (1994), and an MBA (2015) from

in 1972. From 1997 to 2001, Prof. Bundy served as

Wits Business School. She is a PhD candidate at WBS

Vice-Chancellor and Principal at Wits. Most recently he

in 2016. Ditshego has over 15 years’ experience in

was Principal of Green Templeton College, Oxford. He

the corporate sector including marketing and brand

retired in 2010. Prof. Bundy wrote two other Jacana

management roles for global corporations such as

pocketbooks, Govan Mbeki and Short-changed?

Unilever, Coca-Cola, and Barclays Bank. Ditshego now

South Africa Since 1994, before Nelson Mandela

runs a leadership development and executive coaching

(2015). It is relatively easy to trace the history of

consultancy. She is passionate about the professional

Mandela’s status as living legend, but virtually

development of women and their acceleration into

impossible to imagine what it must have been like to

executive and board positions. She has hosted Women

live as a person and a legend. This post-hagiographic

in Leadership events since 2011 and published her

account provides an overview and summary of the

book in 2015. The book aims to inspire women and

20th century icon. It aims to extricate the person of

empower them to overcome corporate obstacles they

Mandela from a pervasive "sense" of Mandela. It

may encounter. Drawing on lessons from women

distinguishes between the actual, historical person,

already occupying executive and board positions,

and an essentially mythical Mandela. Prof. Bundy first

Ditshego shares how women can successfully ascend

locates Mandela’s life, his character and actions in

the corporate ladder so that they too can learn, grow,

South African history, while the first and final chapters

and lead.

question memory, remembering, and legacy.

54 | WITSReview | December 2015




Who’s Knocking on My Door? by Dr Pamela Heller-Stern

Insurgent Diplomat: Civil Talks or Civil War? by Aziz Pahad

Dr Pamela Heller-Stern holds a PhD (1969) from Wits

Aziz Pahad (BA 1964) was banned in apartheid South

where she lectured in English from 1965 to 1970.

Africa in 1964 and went into exile in 1966. Based

She is a published poet, essayist and literary critic, and

mainly in the UK, he was central to developing the

ran a framing factory, art franchise and art galleries

anti-apartheid resistance there. He was elected to

before retiring in 2008. Dr Heller-Stern previously

the South African Communist Party in 1984 and as a

wrote The Pink Slippers and It’s a Red Moon and a

member of the ANC’s National Executive Committee

Green Man. Wisehouse Publishing’s avant-garde

in 1985. Pahad was Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

imprint, Elementá, based in Sweden, brought out

in democratic South Africa from 1994 to 2008. In

Who’s Knocking on My Door? (2015), a novel which

2014 President Jacob Zuma appointed him as a

has been described as “inescapably cinematographic”

Presidential Envoy to deal with the Middle East crisis.

with a poetic literary style. It presents four portraits

Insurgent Diplomat (Penguin UK, 2014) is Pahad’s

in response to the title question. Is it Death? Maybe

memoir of the secret discussions that preceded official

it’s Stanley, a World War II prisoner-of-war; or one

negotiations to end apartheid. He played a key role in

of five siblings, each representing a recurring family

these discussions and his book is the first account of

curse; or perhaps it’s a missing film star; or Belinda, an

them from the ANC’s perspective. Traversing Pahad’s

addict, who commits an irretrievable act. The book’s

early years in South Africa, which informed his political

originality lies in its use of imagery and fragmented

ideology, and his time in exile, the book gives insights

sentences to conjure up characters.

into leaders including Yusuf Dadoo, Oliver Tambo and Thabo Mbeki, and describes the ANC’s role in the peacefully negotiated settlement.

December 2015 | WITSReview | 55



MONEY FROM NOTHING: INDEBTEDNESS AND ASPIRATION IN SOUTH AFRICA BY DEBORAH JAMES Published by Wits University Press, 2014 Deborah James, a South African

The consumer credit crunch is

social anthropologist, now

more of an endemic problem

Professor of Anthropology

and unemployment remains

at the London School of

high. This makes it even more

Economics, researched the

difficult for South Africa to

theme of debt, credit and

return to higher levels of

consumption patterns in 2007

economic growth.

and 2008 in South Africa. It was a time when the world economy moved into a sharp downward phase in the business cycle, recession turned to depression, banks elsewhere were in deep trouble and the sub-prime mortgage crisis, wrapped up with derivatives, impoverished more than just the erstwhile home owner. The impact was felt in South Africa, although the stability of the banks and the regulatory framework in South Africa staved off a local financial crisis.

The context for current economic woes has long and highly complex roots. The coming to power of the ANC Marxist-leaning government was an interesting moment in the country’s economic history. The new government had to reassure investors and proclaim that the transition would not mean nationalisation or destabilisation, that private property and title deeds were safe. At the same time economic change had to bring meaningful social and strategic reforms, growth had

The South African economy had and still has deeper

to couple with redistribution and social welfare had to

structural and policy flaws that have grown out of the

translate into a more visibly equal and affluent society.

capitalist-apartheid nexus and have been compounded

The objective was to grow the economic cake and

by post 1994 economic transition.

share it more equitably.

56 | WITSReview | December 2015



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A new emergent black middle class who were

People borrow to achieve and retain middle class

unionism minded and were often dependent on the

status, to educate their children, to purchase furniture,

state for largesse and employment had to become

to meet family obligations, to pay lobola. She raises

the beneficiaries of new opportunities through black

debates about thriftiness vs extravagance and short

economic empowerment deals and scorecards. Heady

term consumerism vs long term personal advancement

transition unleashed a rising tide of aspirations, higher

through education. Were the new moneyed class

status acquisitiveness and the expectation of higher

ignorant and uneducated when it came to budgets

living standards.

and loans? Whose responsibility was it to manage the

Consumerism was visible in the demand for high fashion clothes, fast cars and satellite TV. For the individual it could all be financed on credit, hire purchase, retail department store accounts and credit cards. The financial institutions were quick to open their doors to the previously disadvantaged,

debts of the millions? Is the creditor as much to blame as the debtor when things go wrong? When does interest become usury? Was credit a logical decision aimed at delivering on aspirations in the immediate present when it led into interminable long term indebtedness that was illogical?

the so-called unbanked. But credit that was not used

James reveals great complexities in the South African

to generate future assets or underpin performing

transition after 1994. The richness of her discussion of

investments quickly translated into debt. If repayments

societal fault lines is impressive and her arguments are

could not be met the consumer slipped into the

convincing. Her account is readable and engaging and

nightmarish world of indebtedness. Instead of

she avoids an excessive amount of academic jargon.

enjoying the fruits of liberation and freedom there

There is an underlying anxiety that the State, having

was a new form of economic slavery.

created the opportunities for upward mobility for

James explores what this indebtedness meant to people and why individuals and groups were ready to borrow from a string of different types of lender, from formal institutions to informal micro money

many, now finds that it must increasingly regulate the lender and the borrower and behave in a paternalist way to manage the unexpected outcomes of the South African brand of capitalism.

lenders and loan sharks. She challenges the view that

James’s book points to the need for bankers to read

aspirations were shallowly consumerist and shows the

anthropology and to listen to researchers who do field

link between aspiration and investment in education.

work reporting on individual experiences. Perhaps the

She skilfully brings the nuanced perspective of the

collapse of banks might be avoided. At the same time

anthropologist to give depth and a human face to

I would urge James to apply her methodology to the

economic analysis. Gender, class and intergenerational

world and mind of the banker. This has to be the next

differences are relevant in exploring the world of debt.

fruitful vein.

December 2015 | WITSReview | 57



In the last few years Wits

This book fills in the gaps

University Press has made

in scholarship, reinterprets

a significant contribution

or updates earlier works on

to a new understanding of

African history of the region

the South African past with

and quickly impresses because

its publication of a range

the authors speak with an

of scholarly but accessible

authoritative voice rooted in

specialist works. Readers here

a huge amount of primary

and abroad are given a fine


opportunity to access the research output of historians who are filling a national canvas with detailed and careful scholarship of geographical regions.

The North-West, with its dry, acacia-covered bushveld and the lack of reliable water limiting grassland cultivation, was frontier territory for 19th century travellers, missionaries,

Manson and Mbenga have

hunters and more rooted Boer

spent three decades researching

and black inhabitants. The

the history of the predominantly

frontier closed towards the end

Setswana-speaking population

of the 19th century with the

of today’s North-West province.

shaping of the Bechuanaland

Their approach is to probe specific events and crises

protectorate, Boer conquest and the trekboer

to build a coherent sequential and thematic regional

penetration of the Waterberg. The skill of the authors

history. Theirs is a contribution to black African

lies in building a narrative around events, issues and

history. They highlight defining moments and the

themes that played out over a period of 170 years.

role of prominent Tswana personalities, leaders and

Today the region is known for early missionary

chiefs as traditional ethnic groups battled – through

endeavours, the troubled platinum mining industry,

resistance, negotiation or co-operation – to retain

the Madikwe and Pilanesberg game reserves, the

their stake in this somewhat forbidding land while

casino, golf and entertainment lifestyles of Sun City,

adapting to inexorable economic changes.

the palaeontological sites and for the literary images of Herman Charles Bosman’s Marico district.

58 | WITSReview | December 2015


This was also where the puppet state of Lucas

Although the authors present the history of the North-

Mangope’s apartheid-shaped “homeland”,

West province through “aspects” in the disparate

Bophuthatswana, became the setting of high drama in

chapters, the linking themes are drawn into a cohesive

the lead up to 1994.

whole in the introduction and conclusion. However,

The advantage of the case study approach is that deep shafts of light illuminate narrow periods and events but become the mechanism for examining change over a longer period. For example, the 1957

the inserted additional information text boxes interrupt the flow of the narrative and are simply distracting. This seems to be a style imported from the travel guide book.

Bahurutshe resistance over the issuing of passes for

I would have liked to see more evidence and

women in the reserves highlights the deeper issues

discussion around economic performance and

of the meaning of tighter administrative controls,

some comparative figures relating to different types

policy shifts, overcrowding in reserves, environmental

of profits and returns for different investments in

degradation, uneconomic landholdings, the limits

different periods, as the story is, at its core, about the

to the power of a chief and the nature of political

economic realities and prospects of people and their

transformation. It’s all impressively captured in a single



Nonetheless, this is a significant and timely study

Manson and Mbenga trace the trials, tribulations and

in the context of the tragedy of Marikana in 2012.

conflicts of the often competing Tswana merafe or

It is a pity that the book could not have been

chiefdoms, the similarities and differences, shaping

better supported in the technical aspects of book

and reshaping of ethnic identities, and explain the

production. The black and white photographs are

shifting loyalties and emerging economic opportunities

poorly reproduced. They are too dark and grainy. The

as the 20th century unfolded. In a part of the world

very useful maps would have been more navigable

where cattle demarcated wealth and farming had to

with colour coding. The paper is too thin and text

be extensive because of the terrain and limited rainfall,

margins narrow. One presumes that the objective of

the acquisition of land was bitterly contested by black

a university press is to make its publications accessible

and white. The platinum revolution opened up a new

and affordable, but historical studies of this quality

terrain of conflict, court cases and corruption. It is a

deserve a more substantial and better designed

story about who controls the material resources of the

presentation. The bibliography, source notes, end

land and the mines, who benefits, who owns what

notes and index have been meticulously prepared. A

and who are the rent seekers as economic and social

book such as this is likely to earn a place in the canon

pressures growing out of modernity erode traditional

of enduring African historical studies. It is Africana in


the making.

December 2015 | WITSReview | 59




MARY BILL (1935–2015)

Architect Brian Joseph Altshuler died suddenly on

Mary “Molly” Cameron Bill (MA

30 April 2015, aged 63. He was a protégé of the

1989) died aged 80 in Jukskei Park,

renowned architect and one-time Head of Architec-

Johannesburg on 1 June 2015,

ture at Wits, the late Pancho Guedes. In his research,

from a chest infection. She was a

practice and artworks, Brian explored the qualities of

lecturer in the African Languages

architecture derived from sacred geometries across world cultures. Brian (BArch 1981) was born on 6 October 1952. He lectured in Architectural Theory and Design at Wits. He was a visiting lecturer at other South African architectural schools, and in Portugal and the UK. As an accomplished sculptor, painter and photographer, he ran a design studio in Johannesburg focusing on landscape and furniture design. He was a freelance lecturer and tour guide, in which capacity he played a major role in raising awareness of Johannesburg’s architectural heritage. His participation included research, lectures and unique walking tours, particularly to Joburg’s Art Deco and Modern Movement buildings and those of Wilhelm Pabst, the subject of a PhD he began. Brian’s iconic photographs were central to his lectures.

department at Wits from 1979 to 1995. She was a language teaching methodologist, a passionate translator and a linguist, fluent in French and three South African languages, and competent in three others. She was an activist academic who believed in knowledge for the transformation of human relations and human conditions. Molly was born in Glasgow, Scotland on 11 April 1935. In 1959 she set out on a life of ministry with her husband, François, to the Xitsonga-speaking people of the former Transvaal province. For the next 20 years, until 1979, she was immersed in the songs, poetry, wisdom and struggles of black people during legislated segregation in apartheid South Africa. In a tribute, her colleague at Wits, Professor Tinyiko Maluleke, described her as a missionary at heart in the best sense of the word; a missionary among Vatsonga,

His family bequeathed his archive to the School of

white South Africans, and in the global academy.

Architecture at Wits. The collection includes some

She bequeathed a volume, Mbita ya vulombe! to

of Brian’s own art works, his plans, photographic

the global academy, which contains the total yield of

collection, drawings and examples of chairs he made

literature on and in the Xitsonga language from 1883

himself. The bequest supports the school’s positioning

to 1983. Molly’s children, Janine, Charles and Denise,

as a significant architectural archive in Johannesburg.

survive her.

60 | WITSReview | December 2015


WITS UNIVERSITY FONDLY REMEMBERS THOSE WHO HAVE PASSED AWAY BOB CHARLTON (1929–2015) Professor Robert “Bob” William Charlton, former Vice-Chancellor of Wits University, died on 30 July 2015 after a short illness. He was 86.

principled leadership in steering the University through the tumultuous 1980s and 1990s. He retired in 1997. The following year, Wits awarded Prof. Charlton an honorary

Prof. Charlton was born on 27

LLD. He initiated the Charlton

January 1929. He had a passion

Awards for Service Excellence after

for education and a lifelong

retiring, and was always present to

commitment to Wits. His association

award these to exceptional support

with the University began as a


student, when he earned BSc (1949), MBBCh (1952) and MD (1963) degrees. In 1967 he became

As a physician in the Department of Medicine, Prof. Charlton was a gifted bedside doctor and teacher who will be remembered by thousands of students he taught.

acknowledged for his steadfast and

Professor of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology at Wits. As a physician in the Department of Medicine, Prof. Charlton was a gifted bedside doctor and teacher who will be remembered by thousands of students he taught. As a researcher he was author or co-

Prof. Charlton served on several local and national medical and educational bodies, including the Board of Governors of the Wits Foundation and several independent school boards. In 1987, he was invited to be a trustee of the Wits Foundation. He was reappointed in 1997 and served voluntarily until 2008.

author of more than 100 scientific

The Charlton family’s relationship

articles, and (with Professor Tom

with Wits is entrenched and

Bothwell) of a definitive book, Iron

endures. Prof. Charlton’s late wife,

Metabolism in Man, which has been

Margaret, was Chairperson of the

widely cited.

Wits Women’s Club, the fundraising

In 1975, while serving as Assistant Dean of the Medical School, he was elected as a Senate representative on the University Council. He was elected Dean in 1978. In February 1988, Prof. Charlton became ViceChancellor and Principal. He held office for two terms and was widely

efforts of which benefited indigent students. Prof. Charlton himself was a Wits benefactor. The Charltons’ four children, all Wits alumni – Sarah (BArch 1989), Julia (BA FA 1984), Diana (BA 1982, BA Hons 2003, MA 2005) and Robert (BA 1985, LLB 1989) – survive him.

December 2015 | WITSReview | 61


DAWN EVENDEN (1934–2015)

World-renowned nephrologist Professor Priscilla

Librarian Dawn Eva Evenden died

Sheath Kincaid-Smith, who discovered the link

in Johannesburg on 26 February

between headache powders and kidney disease,

2015, aged 80. Her career at the

died in Melbourne, Australia on 18 July 2015 from

Johannesburg City Council spanned

complications following a stroke. She was 88. She

43 years and was dedicated to the

was formerly Director of Nephrology at the Royal

Johannesburg Public Library and,

Melbourne Hospital (1975-1991) and later, Emer-

later, the Johannesburg Museums and Art Gallery.

itus Professor and Director of Epworth Hospital in Melbourne.

Dawn was born on 27 May 1934. She joined the Johannesburg Public Library in the 1950s, earning

A trailblazer for Australian women scientists, Prof.

certifications through the South African Library

Kincaid-Smith was the first female professor at the


University of Melbourne in 1975, first female chair of the Royal Australian College of Physicians, first female chair of the Australian Medical Association, and the first female chair of the World Medical Association.

The Johannesburg City Council awarded her a bursary in 1967 and she graduated from Wits with a BA and a postgraduate diploma in Librarianship, with two distinctions, in 1970. She gained experience at the

Prof. Kincaid-Smith was born in Johannesburg on 30

Council’s Central Reference Library, the City Engi-

November 1926. She attended Parktown High School

neers’ Department Library and the Periodicals Depart-

for Girls, where she excelled at athletics. At Wits

ment. After overseeing the organisation of the city’s

she earned BSc (1946) and MBBCh (1951) degrees

branch libraries, she was promoted to Deputy City

while proving a formidable sportswoman. She was

Librarian in 1975. She became Director of Library and

an intervarsity swimmer and sprinter, and held five

Museum Services in Johannesburg in 1987. A leader in

half-Blues for hockey.

her field, Dawn chaired the Southern Transvaal Branch

After graduating Prof. Kincaid-Smith worked in South Africa and England, where she met her husband, Ken Fairley. The couple relocated to Australia and

of the South African Institute of Librarianship and Information Science and was a member of its council for 10 years. She retired as Director in 1993.

collaborated as scientists despite laws at the time

Dawn was also an accomplished sportswoman and

prohibiting married women from working. Jointly they

sports administrator. She was a provincial hockey

identified the link between headache powders and

player and referee, a cricketer, and a bowls player and

kidney disease, and Kincaid-Smith then lobbied for

umpire. She was an honorary life member of South

restrictions on the availability of these analgesics. She

African and Southern Transvaal hockey and Rhodes

was involved in establishing a renal transplant unit

Park Club cricket.

at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, and in the 1970s focused on preventing renal failure. In 1981, Wits awarded Prof.Kincaid-Smith an honorary DSc (Medicine). She retired as Professor of Medicine at the University of Melbourne in 1991. She leaves her husband, Ken, twin sons, Stephen and Christopher, and a daughter, Jackie.

62 | WITSReview | December 2015

OBITUARIES BOB HEPPLE (1934–2015) Professor Sir Bob Alexander Hepple, QC, died in Cambridge, England on 21 August 2015, aged 81. Sir Bob was Emeritus Master of Clare College and Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Cambridge. He was born in Johannesburg on 11 August 1934 and matriculated from Jeppe High School for Boys in 1952. At Wits he was President of the SRC (1954/55). He graduated BA (1954) and LLB cum laude

Sir Bob was knighted in 2004 and in 2014 the South African Presidency awarded him the Order of Luthuli (Gold) for his “exceptional contribution to the struggle for human rights and democracy”

(1957) and received the Society of Advocates Prize for being the Best Law Graduate in 1957. He became an attorney in 1958 and married Shirley Goldsmith in July 1960. He lectured in Law at Wits but resigned in 1961 to practise and to pursue political activities. He was on Nelson Mandela’s support team when Mandela went underground in May 1961. When Mandela was arrested in 1962, he asked Sir Bob to be his legal adviser. On 11 July 1963, Sir Bob was arrested at Liliesleaf farm and detained without

In the UK, he was called to the Bar at Gray’s Inn in 1966. He taught at the University of Nottingham before becoming a Fellow of Clare College, and lectured in Law at Cambridge (1968–1976). He spent some time at the University of Kent and at University College London (UCL) and then returned to Clare as Master in 1993. He retired as Master of Clare College in 2003 but continued working until very shortly before his death. He married Mary Coussey in 1994 after the dissolution of his first marriage. Sir Bob was knighted in 2004 and in 2014 the South African Presidency awarded him the Order of Luthuli (Gold) for his “exceptional contribution to the struggle for human rights and democracy”. He received honorary degrees from several universities, including Wits (1996). In 2013, Sir Bob’s autobiography, Young Man with a Red Tie: A Memoir of Mandela and the Failed Revolution 1960–1963 (Jacana), was published.

trial. The indictment against him

Sir Bob was renowned worldwide

was eventually quashed and he was

for his human rights work and was

released, but the State Prosecutor

regarded as a pioneer in the field

told him that he would have to

of labour law. His South African

testify as a state witness against

background made him more aware

Mandela and others in what became

of discrimination in the UK and he

known as the Rivonia Trial. He was

worked with many international

not prepared to do this and fled

bodies to promote labour standards.

South Africa for the UK. He became

His wife, Mary, two children and

a banned person in South Africa and

two step-children survive him.

could not return for 27 years.

December 2015 | WITSReview | 63


ANDRÉ GIRAUD (1924–2015)

EDWIN MYER (1929–2015)

Surgeon and Wits benefactor

The former Chief of Child Neurology at the Medical

Professor Robert Maurice André

College of Virginia, Dr Edwin Charles Myer died in

Giraud (MBBCh 1951) died on

Virginia, USA, on 8 September 2015, aged 86.

1 March 2015, aged 91.

He was born in Johannesburg on 10 June 1929 and

Prof. Giraud completed his

graduated from Wits with an MBBCh in 1956. In 1970

internship at the Coronation and

he went to Johns Hopkins University Hospital, USA

Baragwanath Hospitals and then worked as a medical

for a fellowship in neurology and child neurology. He

officer at the Victoria Hospital, Mauritius. He resumed

moved to Richmond in 1973 and was a professor at

general practice in Johannesburg in 1955. He went

the Medical College of Virginia for 34 years.

to Paris for postgraduate studies in 1957 as a bursar of the French government. He completed fellowship studies in the UK and worked in hospitals in Watford and Ealing. He returned to South Africa in 1962, where he remained at Baragwanath for almost 20 years, ultimately becoming principal surgeon. He played a significant role in training surgeons in South Africa. He retired in 1995. Professor Giraud was a squash enthusiast and a family man. He leaves his wife, Kathy, daughters Nicole, Marie-Claire and Michéle, and five grandchildren.

In the 1980s and 1990s Dr Myer was involved in research into Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and endorphins, and was a member of many scientific and medical societies. He was widely published and authored or co-authored several books on child neurology. He retired in 2007. He enjoyed surf-fishing off the coast of North Carolina and he loved telling jokes. Shortly before his passing he said he hoped his friends would honour him by telling a joke in his memory. He leaves his wife of 45 years, Anne, their children, Jennifer, Landon, and Jonathan, six grandchildren, and

JAN BOEYENS (1934–2015)

his sister.

A former Professor of Chemistry at Wits, Jan Christoffel Antonie Boeyens died on 26 August 2015 in Pretoria, aged 80. He was born on 2 October 1934

Ada Harris (1921–2015)

and joined Wits in 1981. He later became Head of

Dr Ada Carol Harris (BSc 1942, MBBCh 1946), born

Department and Dean of the Faculty of Science. After

26 March 1921, died 23 February 2015, aged 93. Her

retiring from Wits he joined the Unit for Advanced

son, Stephen Geffen, survives her.

Study at the University of Pretoria and continued to make significant scientific contributions. He

Gerald Knoetze (1934–2014)

authored The Theories of Chemistry (Elsevier) in 2003.

Dr Gerald Casparus Knoetze (BDS 1957), born in

Colleagues described Prof. Boeyens as a “universal chemist”.

64 | WITSReview | December 2015

Johannesburg 29 January 1934, died in Tsumeb, Namibia on 7 August 2014.



ERIC “BABE” WOODS (1926–2014)

Ex-serviceman and Wits benefactor

Dr Eric “Babe” John Lance Woods

Gordon Bernard Leslie Mandelzweig

died peacefully on 27 September

(BSc Eng Civil 1950, GDE 1965),

2014 in Cape Town, aged 87.

born 12 July 1926, died in Israel on

He was born in Cape Town on

28 May 2015 after a brief hospital-

11 December 1926. At Sea Point

isation. He was 89. Gordon was a person who spent his life giving to others. He registered at Wits in 1943 but twice interrupted his studies to serve; he volunteered in the South African Defence Force in World War II

Boys High School he made his mark in athletics. His under-15 high jump record (at 6’11”, a world record at the time) was only recently broken. He obtained Western Province colours for athletics and Eastern Province colours for rugby.

and in the Israeli War of Independence in 1948.

Eric studied medicine at Wits under Raymond Dart and

After graduating, he volunteered for ex-servicemen

Phillip Tobias. In his second year he married Kathleen

committees, synagogue committees, and as a leader

Caley. The couple had three sons and their marriage

at holiday camps for underprivileged children. He was

endured for nearly 60 years before Kathy’s passing in

a committed blood donor and supplied 150 pints over

2008. Eric graduated MBBCh in 1953 and became a

the years.

partner in a Johannesburg practice for over a decade.

Gordon worked in civil engineering for several years. He changed direction and completed a Business Management diploma at Wits. He then worked at

He then specialised in radiology, earning an MMed at Wits in 1970, and entered private practice at Garden City Clinic just as the first CT scanners arrived.

Rand Reinforcing and Steeledale Reinforcing as a

Eric relocated to Cape Town to join Orman & Partners

business manager. At Steeledale he chaired the South

and, later, the Military Hospital, where his radiological

African Reinforced Concrete Engineering Association

reports were both clinically insightful and beautifully

for 10 years, and wrote a handbook on reinforcing

written. He retired after 50 years in medicine to

for the South African Bureau of Standards. He retired

enjoy the outdoors and his grandchildren. He was

in 1989 and he and his wife of 61 years, Dorothy,

widely-read and knowledgeable, and his generosity

emigrated to Israel. Here he continued working until

of spirit made all who met him feel special. He leaves

2004, aged 79. Gordon’s wife and their children,

his sons, Ian (BSc 1976), Stephen and David, and five

David and Leon, his grandchildren and one great-


grandchild survive him.

December 2015 | WITSReview | 65




ohannes Cornelius “Neels” Coetzee (MA FA

In 2015, Xinisteris conceptualised Crucible as a “mini-

1986) was a doyen of the School of Fine Arts

retrospective” of Coetzee’s work, which grapples

at Wits. An eminent sculptor and much-loved

with questions of mortality, destiny, belief, justice,

teacher, mentor and innovator, he worked at

torment and human suffering. She describes the

the University from 1972 to 1997. He died on

Crucible sculpture, created from melted-down AK47s,

2 August 2013 after a long illness. His partner of 30

as Coetzee’s “peace monument”. He dedicated it to

years, curator Koulla Xinisteris, survives him and his

all those suffering “abuse, deprivation, incarceration,

legacy endures through her efforts.

for whatever reasons”. Xinisteris describes it as “a

In September 2015, Xinisteris mounted the first major

culmination of a lot of his life’s work.”

exhibition of Coetzee’s works since his passing. She

The exhibition traces Coetzee’s oeuvre over three

curated Crucible at Everard Read’s CIRCA gallery in

periods: the Space Frame Series (1960s), the Skull


Series (1970s) and the Avçilar Series (1980s). It includes

Coetzee’s work as an artist interrogated his unease about spirituality, religion, suffering and injustice. Themes of life, death and transformation permeate

‘Measure', a posthumous extension of Coetzee’s work to fulfill his vision of having his skull sculptures recreated at a larger scale.

his work. He regarded the skull as the seat of human

The Crucible catalogue includes a bronze stainless steel

thought and it was an encounter with a skull at the

sculpture (untitled) executed in 1977, which former

Wits Medical School in 1976 that inspired an epiphany.

Vice-Chancellor: Research at Wits, Professor Belinda

In the University’s School of Anatomy, Coetzee found a female skull with an abnormality. This irregularity reflected the flaws Coetzee saw in life. He produced a wax-cast of the skull and re-worked the cool wax. So began his relationship with the skull – “because the head is vulnerable, anatomically the most essential, and the most revealing of the emotions”, he’d said. In 2012 Wits would commission Coetzee to create a bronze sculpture temporary installation on West Campus. The Bier, a hollowed skull, was part of a series which began in the 1970s.

66 | WITSReview | December 2015

Bozzoli presented to the Wits Art Museum (WAM) in 2012. The Academic Staff Association had presented this sculpture to the late Professor G.F Bozzoli (1911–1998) in December 1977 when he retired as Vice-Chancellor of Wits. The WAM collection includes another four of Coetzee’s works, all of which continue to resonate as powerfully today as when they were first created. Neels Coetzee’s 1976 bronze on brass, untitled. An abnormal skull he found at Wits Medical School inspired his Skull Series.



Oh Schucks,


Alumni familiar with Leon Schuster’s candid camera films will know the South African English phrase “You have been Schucksed”. The “Fees Must Fall” campaign has out-schucksed and out-schustered both the government and university councils in persuading our bewildered ruling politicians to come up with this Seffrican English, “a 0% increase”, as they try to ward off the new revolution just 40 years after the last one started.


ot bad going for massed bunches of rabble rousers, a few of whom are not averse to burning portable toilets belonging to a BEE firm, blockading university entrances and setting a random police vehicle alight. Having won the battle, they now want to win the war – free education – despite it already costing the taxpayer R41-billion. As

our embattled Minister of Education, “Blade is Blunt”, told a disbelieving TV interviewer: “South Africa has the money, we’ll get it from the private sector.”

December 2015 | WITSReview | 67

WITS END In the meantime Blade would have made Schuster

• Individual academics will become a cost centre

proud by magically pulling out a big chunk of the

in and of him/herself, and failure to recover total

R2.3-billion needed to cover the “0% fees increase”

cost-to-company will result in being Shustered. In an

from his own pocket. Nevertheless, universities

ironic twist, freeing students from fees increases staff

are falling over themselves to embrace “austerity”


measures to express solidarity. This usually includes:

• Universities will corporatise further by enlarging

• Currently unoccupied posts and posts from which

their rentable shopping precincts, replacing Mom-

current staff retire or resign may be frozen, which

n-Pop food outlets with branded fast food stores

means that students get fewer staff and fewer services

that can pay top rentals, and the cost of food and

for lower fees – a fair trade.

refreshments will increase in equal proportion to the

• Departments and modules that lack viable

loss of nutritional value.

student numbers will be closed, and their remaining

• Sports grounds and green spaces will be sold off as

permanent staff will be redeployed to teach disciplines

rentable space. This will be known as schucksters rent.

that they may know nothing about. And we all know what happened in the cadre-deployment realm – just look at SAA, the SABC, Eskom, the Post Office, PRASA etc. Their fees never fall and their services never improve – where are protesting students when you need them? • Tutoring and graduate assistant posts – usually filled by senior students who use this facility to pay their way – may be terminated. But I am sure that in the spirit of a mass mobilisation, student volunteers will be demanding to take on these positions without pay in the interests of the worthy cause of nationbuilding. Hey, we’re all in this together; we must advance the concept of “volunteerism”. • Universities will commoditise (i.e. schusticate) anything and everything. We’ve all heard about “black

• The institutional costs of rebudgeting, rescheduling and painting over protest graffiti can be passed on to anyone but the students engaged in this critical pedagogy of deconstruction in this new poststructural zero-rated accounting environment known as “huckster schuckster bookkeeping”. • One of the students’ demands is for the “insourcing” of cleaning, grounds and maintenance services. At some US universities graduate assistants polish the floors and staff clean their own offices. Any takers? A great learning experience in humility and everydayness. • Finally, staff salary increases and promotions may be frozen, and top-performing academics may move to greener, cleaner and more peaceful pastures.

tax”. Now we can add academic tax: parking meters

Now we all know why Schuster is our most classless,

will be installed on campuses; departments will be

genderless, ethnicless, raceless, but most financially

charged for office space; research funds will be top

successful film maker. In schuckstering us, he creates

sliced to cover shortfalls; while academics will be

an imagined space where problems can be resolved

forced to spend a disproportionate amount of time

by taking the mickey. In a previous column I called

in raising their own salaries instead of delivering on

for Schuster to be appointed national sangoma. But I

their core activities of educating students and doing

want to promote him to a post where he at least can


“pay back the money”.


68 | WITSReview | December 2015

WITS MATTERS www.wits.ac.za/annualfund Enquiries: Purvi Purohit, Senior Liaison Officer, purvi.purohit@wits.ac.za Tel +27 (11) 717 1093 or annualfund@wits.ac.za

a n n u a l f u n d @ w i t s . a c . z a www.wits.ac.za/annualfund

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