An activist. A leader. An inspiration. Those are some of the words used to describe Witsie Yusuf Talia who passed away today at the age of 25.The wheelchair-bound Talia, who battled with muscular dystrophy, was a familiar face around campus where he actively involved in politics and societies. He was part of the Disabled Students Movement and the president of the Muslim Students Association (MSA). He was also an energetic activist for Palestine.
Talia was elected to the Student Representative Council (SRC) under the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) banner and served as deputy president on the council in 2010.
“Today is a sad day for everybody who knew the gentle soul that was Yusuf but also for Wits in general,” said outgoing SRC president Shafee Verachia.
Verachia said Talia had dedicated his life to service and was a role model for others.
“He was the perfect example of what it means to serve humanity,” Verachia said.
The 2013 SRC president, Sibulele Mgudlwa, said Talia was someone who always had time to help his fellow students.
“One thing which sticks out about Yusuf is the ability he had to avail himself whenever he could to assist students and give of his time, despite his physical condition and pressing academic commitments,” Mgudlwa said.
“He was sociable and approachable while at the same time dignified and respectable,” said Mgudlwa, “We will miss him.”
Talia was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy at an early age though very few people knew about his life-threatening disease because of his work ethic.
Talia was named as one of the top 200 young South Africans by the Mail & Guardian in 2013 for his contribution the higher education system and his work to improve conditions for disabled students.
In an interview with Wits Vuvuzela at the time, Talia said of the recognition, with his trademark humility, “I feel so honoured. It was so unexpected.
He told Wits Vuvuzela that the youth should work towards improving society: “The youth need to adopt an attitude of helping those in need in their societies. We can do anything we put our minds to.”
Talia was studying towards an honours degree in Physiology and hoped to be a doctor one day. He had already earned a BSc and a degree in Actuarial Science.
On behalf of the outgoing SRC, Verachia wished “the Almighty to grant strength to his parents, brother Waseem and to all those touched by this amazing human being”.
*Featured in Wits Vuvuzela: SRC president decision delayed
A meeting to select the next president of the Student Representative Council (SRC) has been delayed. The meeting would have also decided on other executive positions as well specific portfolios.
The meeting was supposed to take place tomorrow during lunch where the SRC president and executive committee members were to be discussed and decided upon by the newly elected SRC, comprising Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) and Project W members.
Project W’s Jamie Mighti confirmed that an SMS was sent out to the SRC members which said the meeting was delayed as some of the SRC members were “unable to make tomorrow’s meeting”.
The president and executive members of the SRC are decided by a vote of the 15 SRC members and the four members appointed from external committees and councils.
The PYA won the majority of the seats in this year’s SRC elections and so will likely be the ultimate decision-makers of the SRC president, executive members and portfolio holders.
*Featured in Wits Vuvuzela: STORIFY: BSc student commits suicide at University of Pretoria
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*Featured in Wits Vuvuzela: STUDENT RUN LITERARY FESTIVAL KICKS OFF AT WITS
The Fine Lines literary festival was envisioned and organised by the student council members of the School of Literature, Language and Media (SLLM).
Students Priyankha Thakur, Saul Musker and Nelisa Ngcobo put the festival together to “create conversation” between students and experts.
Thakur told Wits Vuvuzela that they realised there was “a deficit in opportunity for events in our school”. They wanted “to create a place where students and upcoming authors could interact with experts” which they would not usually have the chance to connect with.
“It started off as this absurd idea while we were sitting on the floor outside an office in Senate House. We still can’t believe it came together.”
Musker said, “The festival is an open space in an intimate setting for interaction to take place.”
“We were a bit nervous initially but the staff within the SLLM were so helpful and willing to give us contacts. The poets and authors were so open to the idea of a student festival, it was really positive.”
World-renowned South African poets Koeropetse Kgositsile, Chris Mann and Peter Horn opened the festival with poetry readings in different forms which even included a lyrical poem sung by Mann.
Mann said, “The fact that this festival is coming from students is good news.”
Following the poetry readings a discussion about the life of poetry in the world was presented.
“There are poems for different times and moments. There is one poetry but hundreds of different types,” said Horn.
Kgositsile told the audience that “one has to get inside a poem to see how it connects with the outside world”.
The festival will be running until Friday, September 5th. Students can expect to see authors and poets like Antony Altbeker, Ivan Vladislavic, Mandla Langa, Shireen Hassim and the Botsotso Poetry group.
*featured in Wits Vuvuzela: ‘SMASH AND GO’ GANG HITS BRAAMFONTEIN
A gang of men have been involved in a number of “snatch and goes” in Braamfontein’s Bertha and De Korte streets over the past two weeks.
Wits Security and Liaisons manager, Lucky Khumela said he is aware of a “gang of men” in the area who are attempting “snatch and goes” on vulnerable targets.
“We have seen a rise of this type of crime where the opportunists will either distract the person and pick-pocket them or just snatch their visible valuables.”
The most recent attack was on Sunday morning when a male non-student was robbed by two men.
“They stole his wallet and cell phone. Our security was informed and subsequently SAPS was called,” Khumela said.
This followed other attacks, the first of which was on August 15 when a a female Witsie was approached from behind by a man t while outside the KFC on De Korte street .
“It was broad daylight. The man snatched my phone from my hands and jumped into a car that had a group of men in it who just drove away,” the woman told Wits Vuvuzela.
Last Saturday, a Wits student’s phone was snatched from her by “a guy who then got into his car that was parked nearby and drove off”.
On Monday, Wits Vuvuzela was approached about attempted car thefts on Bertha street by a security guard who asked to remain anonymous.
The security guard said there was a gang who keep trying to break into cars and steal them while parked in the area next to the Wits Art Museum.
“I tell people who park there to tell the guard to watch their cars and to give him pansela. There have been so many attempted break in’s. These men keep trying to steal the cars and nothing is being done to stop them.”
Khumela said this was the first he had heard of this problem but insisted Campus Control would get to the “bottom of it”.
*Featured in Wits Vuvuzela: CRIME ON THE RISE ACROSS WITS CAMPUS
Crime – including mugging – is on the rise in and around Wits campus, according to the annual crime report released by Campus Control yesterday.
Despite the higher number of arrests made by the South African Police Services (SAPS) together with Campus Control, crime has increased from 279 incidents in 2013 to 310 in 2014. However, this number is still lower than 2012, when 348 incidents occurred. The stats include the area in and around the Wits campus area.
Although theft in general, and the theft of cars, has decreased, thefts outside of cars, pick-pocketing, muggings and the possession of drugs have increased around campus. Cell phone and laptop thefts have also risen.
Campus Control said the rise in cell phone and laptop thefts was as a result of “negligence” by students. Hot-spots across campus were found to be classrooms, parking areas and some residences. Most of the crimes in these areas were petty.
Campus Control’s security and liaison manager Lucky Khumela told Wits Vuvuzela: “Students have been leaving their valuables unattended in these areas and this gives opportunists a chance to take action and steal those valuables.”
Khumela said students must be vigilant, but that Campus Control was working together with the SAPS to arrest “perpetrators of crime”.
“We have been successful so far and we hope to continue. As you can see from the statistics, our arrests have risen from 36 to 42 in the last six months.”
Students have also been warned to be careful in a number of areas outside campus including Enoch Sontonga, De Korte, Jorissen, Ameshof and Melle Streets, as well as Jan Smuts Avenue and Empire Road, where muggings and smash-and-grabs have become more common, as reported by Wits Vuvuzela earlier this year.
Students leaving campus at night, whether walking to their vehicles or walking to residences around Wits or in Braamfontein, are encouraged to call Campus Control to escort them.
Crime can be reported to Campus Control on (011) 717-4444
*Featured in Wits Vuvuzela: WITS FAIR SHOWCASES THE VARIETY OF OPTIONS FOR POSTGRADUATES
Encouraging students to study further was no ordinary affair at this year’s Postgraduate Fair hosted outside the Wits Science Stadium. A marimba band, warm soup and fresh focaccia were just some of the side attractions to an event intended to showcase the best of postgraduate options at the university.
The fair which took place over Tuesday and Wednesday this week provided potential postgraduates the opportunity to talk to faculty members from across the university.
Veremia Moloi, who is studying a BA industrial psychology honours, said he was confused about his plans for next year.
“I wasn’t sure about my future and after attending today, I have a clearer idea of where I want to go. I found out that just because I studied psych, it doesn’t mean I have to go into it.”
BSc molecular biology student, Anza Thiba said: “I discovered that I’m not limited to molecular biology when furthering my studies. I can even pursue business or education.”
Some Computer Science students said they came to find out their “options for the future” stressing that “knowing and furthering” their future “is an important aspect” for them.
Prof Mary Scholes, director of post graduate affairs emphasised that having a “post-grad qualification is a necessity” in the working world.
“It’s no longer seen as being over qualified,” she said, “we need to close the gap within South African economy where scarce skills are growing.”