SA NGO fighting crime in the UK

NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on May 12, 2014. 

OPERATING IN LONDON AND KZN: A participant in a Khulisa Social Solutions art workshop in London. Picture: Provided.
OPERATING IN LONDON AND KZN: A participant in a Khulisa Social Solutions art workshop in London. Picture: Provided.

 South African non-profit organisation is helping to fight crime in the United Kingdom through specialised programmes.

Gugulethu Shezi, marketing and communications manager at Khulisa Social Solutions, said inner-city London and semi-rural townships in KwaZulu-Natal had much in common. They were both “communities where the youth frequently see drugs, crime and gangsterism as their only redemption”, said Shezi.

The NGO uses the commonalities between the two to implement programmes that help, “youngsters transform their lives”.

In South Africa, Khulisa focuses on marginalised youngsters in some of “the poorest, riskiest townships”, and the same formula is being used in the UK.

Some of the life skills interventions used by Khulisa include art and drama-therapy workshops, said Lisa Rowles from Khulisa’s UK branch.

“Each programme is tailored to the needs of the client group,” said Rowles, meaning that some programmes are day-long “taster sessions” while others are year-long intervention programmes.

Established in 1998 in KwaZulu-Natal with financial assistance from British donors, the NGO only opened its second branch as a charity in the UK in 2007.

NEW WAYS TO LIVE: Art workshop in London.
NEW WAYS TO LIVE: Art workshop in London.

A lot of fundraising and responding to government bids is done to keep it afloat, said Rowles.

In the UK, the “holistic” programmes the NGO uses include crime reduction programmes at schools and juvenile and adult correctional facilities which have been tracked by several academic institutions for possible successes and failures.

A report by Dr Tim Pascoe, criminologist and researcher, found that of all participants in Khulisa’s programmes, 98% progressed positively.

Some of the participants cited “anger management and conflict resolutions” as some of the benefits they had received from the programmes said Shezi.

This year and in 2015 the NGO plans to host programmes that focus on domestic violence, parents and children and looking at “the streets we walk with new eyes”, according to Rowles.

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Practical, fun apps to help you vote

Screen grabbed photo's of the IEC SA app, available for download on both Play Store and App Store.
Screen grabbed photo’s of the IEC SA app, available for download on both Play Store and App Store.

NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on May 6, 2014. 

While  some have criticised political parties of not doing enough on social media to campaign for the elections, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has two different apps in place to help voters through the electoral process.

The Citizen downloaded the apps to their level of usefulness. The fun app, “IXSA” (I vote South Africa) is a 3D digital game that will require 62.64 megabytes of data to download. But that’s all forgotten once you start playing. There are three different missions, with challenges in each to complete. Using a virtual rotary dial you move your 3D avatar around to get to each challenge.

That’s when all the fun begins – you have to get your avatar from their home to a voting station and cast your ballot successfully. The game is a simulation created to take voters through the process in a fun and interactive way. If you have ever played Sims, you will enjoy it.

The practical “IEC SA” app is available for download on Android’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store for a data friendly 4.06 megabytes. The app provides users with access to their voting details.

Along with this, the app lets users find alternate voting stations, look up previous election national and provincial results and a frequently asked questions tab to answer any questions voters may have. It’s an easy to use way of getting important personal information.

Anyone with a smartphone or tablet can be up-to-date with election results and processes at the swipe of a finger.

Coverage of parties, poll topics

NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on May 6, 2014. 

The top three topics covered in the media during the election campaigns were, election campaigning, party politics and corruption – with a particular preoccupation with the Nkandla saga.

In contrast, the top three marginalised topics were: voter education, election results and election funding, Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) said in an interim report on media coverage about the elections released yesterday.

According to MMA, of the 50 media outlets covered over a seven-week period, 85% of all their coverage focused on five “big” parties, namely and in order: the ANC, DA, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Agang South Africa and Congress of the People. This left 24 parties a tiny share of 15% of all coverage.

MMA director William Bird said in Rosebank, Johannesburg, it was also found that the biggest cities received the most coverage, with smaller areas and smaller parties being left out of the loop. The voices most largely represented were President Jacob Zuma (ANC), Juluis Malema (EFF), Helen Zille and Mmusi Maimane (both DA).

Looking at the overall range of coverage, MMA found that only 15% of all coverage was biased.

Malema ‘will go to parliament’

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema is seen addressing supporters during a march to the SABC's head office in Johannesburg on Tuesday, 29 April 2014 over its refusal to air an Economic Freedom Fighters' television election commercial. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA
Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema is seen addressing supporters during a march to the SABC’s head office in Johannesburg on Tuesday, 29 April 2014 over its refusal to air an Economic Freedom Fighters’ television election commercial. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen on May 5, 2014. 

Economic Freedom Fighters “commander-in-chief” Julius Malema told a rally in Atteridgeville yesterday that he intends to go to Parliament to “deliver the best of the best” to all South Africans.

He was the keynote speaker at the Tshela Tupa (“Crack the Whip”) rally – his last opportunity to campaign before election day on Wednesday.

The almost 30 000 strong crowd went wild when Malema made his grand entrance. Led by bikers, he greeted the crowd while walking around the track.

Before he addressed the crowd, Dali Mpofu, Gauteng premier candidate for the EFF, led a demonstration of how e-tolls would be “destroyed physically” – an EFF campaign promise. Using hammers, party supporters in red jumpsuits laid into a white structure labelled “e-toll”.

“Any future without EFF is suffering,” Malema told the crowd.

His organisation would be around for the next 100 years, he said, and would be “handed down from one generation to the next”.

The EFF is “inspiring the hopeless masses of people”, he continued. He reiterated promises of increased minimum wages, compulsory free education and land expropriation without compensation. “You will own those farms after the 7th of May,” he said.

He said that the EFF was asking voters for “five years” to make a difference.

Apparently addressing remarks made by City Press editor Ferial Haffajee, he explained how way grants would work under EFF policies.

“We will take out the middle man (the South African Social Grants Agency)… That money will be added on top of our credits. The second money is going to come from politicians.” Money that would otherwise have been used to buy politicians cars would be given as grants to children and the elderly, he said.

Politicians should buy their own cars and houses and finance their own credit cards. They earn a salary and they “should use it”, he said.

‘This parliament robbed our democracy’

FILE PICTURE: A general view of President Jacob Zuma's private Nkandla home. Picture: AFP PHOTO / Stringer
FILE PICTURE: A general view of President Jacob Zuma’s private Nkandla home. Picture: AFP PHOTO / Stringer

NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on May 1, 2014. 

The decision to dissolve the parliamentary ad hoc committee tasked with investigating the Nkandla debacle is unlawful and unconstitutional, a constitutional law expert said yesterday.

Professor Shadrack Gutto, constitutional law expert at the University of SA, said the decision to dissolve the committee and defer the matter to the new parliament appointed after the elections is “not legal and not constitutional”.

Gutto said the current sitting committee “does not have the powers to defer the matter. They can’t order the new parliament to do their work”.

ANC MPs voted as a majority on Monday to dissolve the parliamentary ad hoc committee, stating there was not enough time for the committee to investigate the matter before election day.

Gutto bluntly said: “The ad hoc committee had simply decided not to do the work it should be doing.”

He said this decision would not make the matter go away, as “serious maladministration and unjust enrichment from public funds by the president and his family” needed to be investigated in Parliament.

Members of opposition parties have said they will pursue the matter.

Gutto said: “This Parliament will go down in history as one that robbed our democracy by not complying with legal and constitutional regulations.”

He said the reasons why the committee had to be dissolved were “irrelevant and wrong.”

The newly elected members of Parliament will sit for the first time on May 21.

Research for Africa, by Africa

FILE PICTURE: Chairperson of the African Union Commission Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. Picture: Nigel Sibanda
FILE PICTURE: Chairperson of the African Union Commission Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on April 25, 2014. 

Pooling resources and working together, instead of competing, are some of the ways research conducted at African universities can help propel the continent to be a global leader, projecting to 2063.

During a public lecture on research in African universities in the Senate Hall at the University of Pretoria yesterday, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairperson of the African Union Commission, emphasised how research done at universities can help with the overall development of Africa.

“The only way to do so is by getting universities to look 50 years into the past and 50 years in to the future,” said Dlamini-Zuma. Projecting ahead “liberates you – it is not defined and confined by immediate circumstances”.

Research carried out at universities is one of the ways universities could help to “turn all our resources into wealth for our people,” said Dlamini-Zuma. A fundamental way of doing this was to broaden the base from which students are chosen, she said.

The university’s vice-chancellor, Cheryl de la Ray, responded by saying demand was too high to accommodate more students. “We don’t take international students for our undergraduate courses because of huge demand locally,” she said.

“We make plans and expect other people to fund them.”

Dlamini-Zuma said development needed to happen internally, with Africans helping Africans. The AU has found that most African researchers collaborate with researchers from overseas and not one another, something which “surprised and disappointed” her.

She added that African universities and researchers needed to work together towards Pan-African development, mentioning the African Union was in the process of starting a virtual Pan-African university.

Dlamini-Zuma stressed that through research conducted at African universities “vexing questions could be answered”. She cited a cure for malaria and the gradual disappearance of Lake Chad as examples of questions that needed to be investigated.

Hospital sued by mother

NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on April 24, 2014. 

Emmah Layi Motsoene (34) a domestic worker in Pretoria is suing Steve Biko hospital for negligence after her baby was born with brain damage after she was in labour too long. Picture: Christine Vermooten
Emmah Layi Motsoene (34) a domestic worker in Pretoria is suing Steve Biko hospital for negligence after her baby was born with brain damage after she was in labour too long. Picture: Christine Vermooten

What was meant to be a standard delivery due date, turned into a nightmare and resulted in a brain damaged disabled child for 34-year-old mother Emmah Motsoene.

Motsoene is taking matters into her own hands three years after her horror experience by suing the Steve Biko Hospital in Pretoria for a 14-hour labour that resulted son, Musa Sindani, being brain damaged.

With tears in her eyes, Motsoene shared her story with The Citizen. It all started one cold morning in July at a clinic in Moreleta Park after Motsoene experienced immense pain. “They told me that the baby is coming, so I went directly to Tshwane District Hospital at 11am,” said Motsoene.

Upon arrival she was checked and told her baby “is still far from coming” but allocated a bed to lie on. Three hours later the “rude” nurse helping Motsoene told her to go home and come back when her pain increased.

While Motsoene was waiting outside of the hospital gates, her water broke. “A sister from the hospital saw me and brought a wheelchair to take me back into the hospital.” Motsoene was then sent to the Steve Biko Academic Hospital just 800 metres away.

Motsoene endured six more hours of being told not to push as the baby wasn’t ready. “I could feel that my baby wanted to come out,” said Motsoene.

At midnight she saw a doctor for the first time after an intern nurse called for help. “He was very rough, he climbed onto my stomach with his knees on my forehead and told me to push because the baby was breeched.

“I wanted to die, I felt so much pain for my child – I just wanted him to come out,” said Emmah.

By 1.30am Motsoene had given birth, but was told her child didn’t get enough oxygen during labour and “something will be wrong with him”. When she saw him later that day, attached to an oxygen tank, she was told he was brain damaged.

I didn’t do it – ‘horror crèche’ owner

NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on April 11, 2014.

Creche3_530972796
A relative of creche owner of Petite Bumper Dayare Labeeba Truter, leave Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court, 10 April 2014, after cases of child abuse and assault against Truter was postponed to 25 April 2014. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

In a court appearance no longer than five minutes yesterday, Labeeba Truter was told she would have to spend 15 more days at Johannesburg’s “Sun City” Prison.

Truter, the principle and owner of Petite Bumper Daycare in Rosettenville, in the south of Johannesburg, was arrested on April 8 facing charges of assault and child abuse. Truter made the news earlier this week following a viral video of a child tied up and gagged at her daycare centre.

In her first court appearance at the Johannesburg Regional Court yesterday afternoon, Judge Hawkins said Truter can formally apply for bail on April 25. Truter looked back at her family in disbelief when she found out she wouldn’t be able to go home after her appearance.

Advocate Herry Bonke Maluleke, Truter’s legal representative said the State could not let her go because she faced “numerous counts and further investigation by the State” would need to be done. “The allegations are yet to be tested,” and the State has to prove them, he said.

Truter stuck to her guns and said: “I’m not the one who did it.” She claimed she had been falsely arrested and the charges she was facing did not even pertain to the complainant’s child.

“It’s not even the same kid. The kid in the Daily Sun is not Beauty and the “father” they spoke to is not her father,” said a frustrated Truter.

She added the child in the video was not even in the country at the moment, as her father had taken her and her mother to Mozambique at the weekend.

Truter said she was called to the bathroom by one of the other children at her daycare and when she got to the bathroom another teacher was there with the child. “When I walked in she hid something behind her back – a cellphone maybe. She has family at the Daily Sun,” said Truter.

Maluleke said Truter would “most definitely” make bail on April 25.

Wits sexual harassment inquiry complete

Prof Bonita Meyersfield outlines some of the key findings from the report. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
Prof Bonita Meyersfield outlines some of the key findings from the report. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

By Caro Malherbe and Shandukani Mulaudzi

Wits has pledged to undertake a multidimensional approach to issues of sexual harassment on campus by formulating a special task team initiated by the vice chancellor’s office. These measures and others were announced today at a press conference called to make the findings of an independent inquiry into issues of sexual harassment at Wits University.

Vice chancellor Prof Adam Habib said he takes full responsibility for the abuses that happened at Wits and that the report highlights the failure of the university’s system to address rumours and allegations decisively.

Habib added that the university welcomes the recommendations and will form a Senior Executive Team to start a plan of action on how the issue of sexual harassment will be dealt with, in line with the culture of the institution.

Special Task Team 

The special task team will originate from the VC’s office and comprise various experts from within the university including gender specialists, the transformation office, sexual harassment advisors, legal expertise and student representatives.

Habib said student representatives will not be solely from the SRC but from various sectors of the student body.

Prof Adam Habib, Kirti Menon and Prof Andrew Crouch field questions from the media. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
Prof Adam Habib, Kirti Menon and Prof Andrew Crouch field questions from the media. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

 Difficulties of investigation


Prof Bonita Meyersfeld, the director of the Centre of Applied Legal Studies at Wits was part of the team who compiled the report together with lawyers from law firm Norton Rose. She said this was one of the most difficult inquiries to undertake.

“The inquiry was one of the most difficult tasks for the whole team to undertake because we were dealing with our own university. But it was important and totally worth it.”

Meyersfeld said students and members of staff were initially reluctant to speak to them but in the last two months of the inquiry they were more willing to come forward.

“The emotion involved in both students and staff alike is evident throughout the university and administration. Students felt they were not listened to and not taken seriously.”

Meyersfeld said the students were also worried about following the legal process as they were worried about being re-traumatised by speaking to various entities about the same incident.

Members of staff, although they shared the same sentiments also worried about the threat posed to their careers if they came forward.

Continuing investigation 

Two cases have already been dealt with and the accused persons have been dismissed. Habib said there are two other cases that are on-going.

“Two have been dismissed and another who began investigations will hopefully be released to me tomorrow. The fourth is yet to begin.”

SRC President, Sibulele Mgudlwa answers a question from the audience. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
SRC President, Sibulele Mgudlwa answers a question from the audience. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

The on-going investigation is that of Prof Rupert Taylor, while the one that has not yet begun is that of Dr Lord Mawuko. This was confirmed by a reliable source who did not want to be named.

Meyersfeld said while there were other perpetrators discovered during the inquiry. However cases were dealt with on a confidential basis and unless students asked for their accusations to be pursued, they were not.

Habib added: “We pursued various other avenues to get to the bottom of it [new cases]. But in those instances our findings yielded no further investigation.”

Habib thanked the media for blowing the whistle on issues of sexual harassment as this forced the university to take immediate action.

 

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“Special” leave?

THE DEAN of students, Prem Coopoo, has been  on special leave for the past two weeks, since August 2, with little clarity on when she will return.

Wits spokesperson Shirona Patel told Wits Vuvuzela that Coopoo had been placed on special leave pending an investigation.

Elaine Milton, head of employee relations at Wits, said the reasons behind Coopoo’s absence are “personal and private” and she could not comment on them.

Wits Vuvuzela tried numerous times to get in touch with Coopoo and other members in management for more information but to no avail.

Head of Residence Life Rob Sharman has been named acting dean of students while Coopoo is on special leave.

According to the university’s website, the office of the dean of students facilitates student life and the academic life of students. It also assists with programmes and services to students.

The dean of students also provides “the strategic direction and co-ordination of all student affairs operations” and sets “clear and specific expectations for staff involvement in facilitating students’ experiences”.