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Dr Tshepo Madlingozi appointed Director of Wits Centre for Applied Legal Studies

- Wits University

Dr Tshepo Madlingozi

Prominent academic, critical thinker and activist will lead CALS starting June 2019. CALS is a civil society organisation based at the School of Law and practices human rights law and social justice work.

Madlingozi holds a PhD from the University of London, as well as two Masters degrees in law and sociology from the University of Pretoria, where he has been based for over 16 years. He has shown a deep commitment to social justice not only through his teaching and extensive publication record, but also in his activism. Over the past 13 years, he served as the national advocacy co-ordinator and a board member of the Khulumani Support Group, which represents over 85,000 victims and survivors of apartheid-era gross human rights violations.

In addition to his work at Khulumani, Madlingozi has served on the boards of a number of human rights and social justice organisations, including the Centre for Human Rights, University of Free State; the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa; Zimbabwe Exiles Forum; the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution and He has also consulted for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Pan-African Parliament and was appointed to the Advisory Committee of the South African Law Commission: Project 25 on Statutory Law Revision.

Madlingozi is therefore very well placed to lead an organisation like CALS which connects academia and social justice, and has much to contribute to the School of Law and the Wits University community more broadly. We heartily welcome his appointment and look forward to learning from his many areas of expertise.

PhD in sight for student who speaks through jazz

- Wits University

A blind jazz music student in the Wits School of Arts has been awarded a PhD scholarship worth R130 000 from the Arts Research Africa (ARA) project.

A musician, pianist, singer and researcher, Yonela Mnana draws his inspiration from the lineage of South African music. His PhD research, under the supervision of musicologist, Dr Lindelwa Dalamba, aims to examine the aesthetics and politics of the South African solo jazz piano recital, which is an instrument that “in conventional jazz settings mostly plays a supporting role.”

“My research will also enrich South African jazz musicology because, while there is increasing scholarly interest in South African music and jazz studies, little of this interest is on jazz figures as instrumentalists. My research interest stems mainly from an instrumental point of view, a phenomenon no one has as yet ventured into,” he says.  

Yonela Mnana_ Pic credit: Christo Doherty

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funds the ARA project in the Wits School of Arts. This is a New York-based educational foundation that supports training of scholars and the production of scholarship in the Arts and Humanities at top universities and research institutes internationally. The grants support postgraduate students in the Wits School of Arts who are conducting creative arts research that uses the methodologies of art practice to create new forms of knowledge.

The School of Arts’ selection committee unanimously selected Mnana from several other applications submitted for the ARA PhD award. Professor Christo Doherty, chair of the selection committee, said Mnana was a worthy recipient, given his sound academic record.

“Not only did Mnana achieve excellent results in his previous degrees, his MA research challenged the conventional understanding of South African jazz piano and established the terms for his PhD research topic, which will use a combination of performance and scholarly analysis to articulate the distinctive aesthetic of the South African jazz piano tradition,” says Doherty.

Four Wits master’s students and four honours students are also recipients of bursaries from ARA this year.

A dialogue through music

Mnana’s interest in musical instruments was sparked during his high school years in Polokowane when he was a member of the school band. He subsequently enrolled for a Bachelor of Music degree at Wits where he studied classical and jazz piano. In 2018, he obtained his master’s degree in music with distinction.

Passionate about sharing knowledge, the performing artist says he is grateful for the funding because it has enabled him to continue the momentum of learning. With his research, he hopes to empower people with information. “I want to enable ordinary people who are not students to gain access to information, because most of [what] make people poorer – either in knowledge or materials – is due to lack of information,” says Manana.

He teaches music at Ezibeleni School for Physically Disabled Children, in Katlehong, and assists choirs at the South African School Choral Eisteddfod. He also composes for the community project, Vivacious Sounds. When it comes to his craft, jazz, he enjoys its conversational element.

“The very essence of jazz is that it allows for sharing. I am grateful that I was able to receive gifts from other musicians and pass on those gifts to the people who are listening. It is not only about sharing, it is about creating a conversation – it is a dialogue. I cannot just play without creating a dialogue. It has to imbue with a specific live organism. The song is supposed to turn into an entity that is supposed to perform a specific function.”

Mnana has performed on numerous stages in Johannesburg and South Africa and has performed alongside jazz luminaries such as Herbie Tsoaeli, Marcus Wyatt, Zoe Modiga, Barney Rachabane, and Bheki Khoza, amongst others. Mnana released his debut album, Baba, in April 2016 and his single, Iskhalo, in December 2018. He recently performed at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival with Mandla Mlangeni, where they played with artists from Switzerland.

About Arts Research Africa

Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Arts Research Africa project in the Wits School of Arts consists of a range of activities, from artist residencies and seminars, to symposia, online publishing, bursaries and grants. The purpose of these activities is to spark dialogue, stimulate practice, enable research and inspire collective engagement in developing artistic research in the African university.  For more information, see

Top 20 newbies

- Wits University

Recipients of the Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship a delightful mixed bag.

The crème de la crème of Wits'  2019 first years

Professor Adam Habib hosted a breakfast to celebrate the achievements of top matriculants who have enrolled at Wits this years.

The 20 outstanding first years are “the best of the best” in an institution brimming with talent, and join an elite cohort of learners who are awarded the prestigious scholarship.

“To be in the top 20 at Wits is an incredible achievement” said Habib in his opening remarks to the parents, guardians and school principals at the ceremony.

Commenting on the 2019 cohort Habib said he was pleased at the demographics of the group as well as the diverse academic programmes being pursued by the recipients. The scholarship also saw new schools rising to claim their seat at the table.

“This is a reflection that our society is maturing,” said Habib.

Wits University has a range of scholarship varying in amounts aimed at top performing matriculants.

The Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship is one of the oldest scholarships aimed at Grade 12s and was dominated by well resourced former Model-C schools and private schools.

Realising the discrepancies in the education system where well resourced schools are able to out-perform disadvantaged rural and township schools based on available economic resources that enable additional academic support for learners, Wits University established the Equality Scholarship in 2014.

The Equality Scholarships were created to assist talented learners from marginalised communities, who despite learning in deprived environments often with inadequate learning and teaching support, produce excellent academic results. These are awarded the top 10 learners from Quintile 1 and 2 schools who choose to attend Wits.

Both the VC's scholarship and the Equality Scholarship are worth approximately R150 000 per annum and are for the duration of the recipients’ undergraduate degrees, provided that they continue to excel.

Another tier of scholarship exists for matriculants who excell - the University Entrance Scholarships is awarded to students on the basis of the NSC admission point score (APS). Gifted sportspersons are eligible for the Sports Scholarship.

Wits Maths Connect Project connecting across Africa

- Wits University

Wits Maths Connect Secondary Project shares a home-grown resource for secondary maths teaching with educators from the SADEC region.

About 40 delegates from South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Norway and Brazil attended a two-day workshop hosted by the Wits Maths Connect Secondary (WMCS) Project in March. The aim of the workshop, funded by the First Rand Foundation, was to disseminate the Mathematics Teaching Framework (WMCS-MTF), a tool for designing and reflecting on secondary maths lessons which has been developed and continually refined during the life-span of the project.

WMCS is directed by SARChI Chair Professor Jill Adler, describing the motivation for developing the WMCS-MTF tool, said “we wanted a professional development intervention that would be supportive of teachers but also developmental. By that I mean the teachers could grow. We did not want to impose some new method on them, but that their practice could improve, and improvement for us meant more coherent mathematical lessons.”

Wits-Maths Connect Project workshop delegates

The WMCS-MTF consists of five components: Object of Learning, Exemplification, Explanatory Communication, and Learner Participation and emphasises the need for coherence between these components in all lessons. It is a core element of the professional development course, Transition Maths 1 (TM1) which the project team has run 5 times since 2011.

Delegates were introduced to all aspects of the framework through hands-on tasks in sessions run by Professor Adler and Dr Craig Pournara, WMCS Project Manager and leader of the WMCS program. The delegates provided positive feedback about the workshop.

  • The framework brings to the fore taken-for-granted aspects that are key in making mathematics lessons successful.
  • It is so interesting to see real research done in real classrooms. The focus on learning as a result of teaching was so good and appealing.
  • The hands on work on different tasks and examples has been very useful on how to choose and vary examples and tasks
  • Provoked our minds in terms of disturbing what we considered “normal” in our practice.

At the close of the workshop delegates challenged WMCS to consider making this an annual event where colleagues from the SADEC region could meet to share how they are making use of WMCS-MTF in university-based teacher education programmes and professional development in their countries.

An eight-member team from the University of Malawi stayed over with the WMCS team for two more days where they shared about their large maths teacher education projects. All doctoral and post-doctoral fellows from both teams had opportunity to share about their individual research projects. 

Wits academics bestowed with National Orders

- Wits University

Professors Yosuf (Joe) Veriava and Thokozani Majozi are amongst the recipients of the 2019 National Orders.

President Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday, 25 April 2019, bestowed National Orders on distinguished individuals who have made momentous contributions to the South Africa.  

In his address, Ramaphosa said the “recipients of the National Orders represent the values, the ideals and the aspirations of the millions of South Africans who stood in line to vote for freedom on the 27th of April 1994.The National Orders are the highest honour that this country can bestow on its citizens and eminent foreign nationals”.

Veriava, an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at Wits University, was bestowed with the Order of Luthuli in Silver for his contribution to the medical profession in South Africa. The Order of Luthuli acknowledges the contribution of South Africans to the struggle for democracy, to nation-building, to human rights, to justice and peace, and to conflict resolution. Known within the academic community for leading the Steve Biko court case against the South African Medical and Dental Council in 1985, Veriava has served the University and country for more than 30 years in pursuit of dignity and justice. He has been hailed for his fight for equity and transformation in the medical sector. In 2009 the University awarded him an honorary doctorate for his unwavering commitment and dedication to the human, moral, ethical and transformational aspirations of Wits and the communities it serves.

Majozi, a Full Professor in the School of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering at Wits and DST/NRF SARChI Chair in Sustainable Process Engineering, received the Order of Mapungubwe in Bronze for his outstanding contribution to science. The Order of Mapungubwe recognises those who have accomplished excellence and exceptional achievement to the benefit of South Africa and beyond. A member of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa and board chairperson of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Majozi’s main research interest are batch chemical process integration, sustainable process systems engineering and mathematical modelling.

He has received numerous awards for his research including the Burianec Memorial Award (Italy), the University of Pretoria Leading Minds Centenary Award, a S2A3 British Association Medal (Silver), the South African Institution of Chemical Engineers Bill Neal-May Gold Medal and the NSTF-BHP Billiton Category B Award. In 2016, he won the Research of Engineering Capacity Development award at the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)-South32 Awards.

Four Wits alumni were also amongst this year’s recipients, including veteran journalist, Mathatha Tsedu; Benjamin Pogrund; Anthony Trew; and Dr Ari Sitas.

Gauteng Province releases prime property to Wits for development

- Joint Statement

The Gauteng Provincial Government has signed a Memorandum of Intent with Wits for the release of properties to meet student housing and research needs.

MEC for the Department of Infrastructure Jacob Mamabolo, Wits SRC President Sisanda Mbolekwa, SRC Deputy Secretary-General Thaakirah Savahl and Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Adam Habib


The five properties are around Constitution Hill and are part of the Gauteng Provincial Government Rapid Land Release Programme.

The agreement which was signed by the MEC for the Department of Infrastructure Mr. Jacob Mamabolo and Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Adam Habib paves the way for the University to conduct due diligence process and feasibility studies, including a financial model, that will see the buildings transformed to meet their institutional needs.

Speaking at the signing ceremony held at the University this morning (30 April 2019) Mamabolo said the signing of the agreement was an important milestone in the journey of the establishment of a student accommodation precinct in the heart of the City of Johannesburg.

“We are releasing these properties towards the spatial transformation of the area around Constitution Hill. These properties will help us change the space economy of that area and allow us to bring back these buildings of government to drive the economy,” said Mamabolo.

The buildings in the Constitution Hill Precinct (the Transwerke /Queen Victoria Hospital, Nurses residence on Precinct Road and the TMI building) will be developed for student accommodation. The Old Pathology Hospital and The Florence building will be the home of a health and research precinct.

“With this partnership between the Provincial Government and Wits we are leading a way and setting a benchmark using the precinct model of development as the best way to optimise land and space,” Mamabolo added.

Professor Adam Habib said that the partnership between Wits and the Gauteng Provincial Government was an important one in addressing the challenges faced by institutions of higher learning.

“If we are ever going to resolve the student accommodation challenge, then it can’t be done institution by institution, it requires a systemic solution. I want to thank the Gauteng government because they recognise that stakeholders across the public divide need to collaborate,” said Professor Habib.

Wits SRC President Sisanda Mbolekwa said this is an emotional moment for her following year-on-year requests from students for more housing.

“This a very overwhelming and historic moment of what can be achieved when different stakeholders work together. We thank the government and the coming to the party,” said Mbolekwa.

Professor Lulama Makhubela to speak at Africa Day celebrations at Wits

- Wits University

The Wits Faculty of Humanities hosts renowned academic and advocate for women empowerment, Professor Lulama Makhubela to speak at the Africa Day celebrations.

In unison with all the African states celebrating Africa Day, the Wits Faculty of Humanities celebrates the resilience of Africa in her struggles against colonialism and apartheid. As it recognises the countless contributions and sacrifices made by women in attaining the African Freedom, the Faculty celebrates Africa’s transformative journey towards gender equality as illuminated by woman leadership in the African Union (AU). On African Day, the Wits Faculty of Humanities embraces the AU’s agenda on Gender Equality and Women Development by dedicating this celebration to African women.

Professor Lulama Makhubela, Research Associate at the Gordon Institute of Business Science at the University of Pretoria, will deliver the Africa Day keynote speech at Wits on 2 May 2019 at 17:00. This will be followed by celebrations at the Wits Art Musuem. View programme.

Africa Day 2019 at Wits

Makhubela’s address will focus on the 2019 Africa Day theme "Are women part of the equation in making Africa work?”.

Reflecting on the 56th anniversary of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity on 25 May 1963, Makhubela says that Africa Day symbolises the independence of the continent from its past colonial and apartheid masters.

“It acknowledges the progress Africa has made, while reflecting upon the common challenges that the continent faces within itself and in a global environment. The inclusion of women in the “independent” African continent broadly, and the South African landscape specifically, remain a cause of concern. The under-representation of women in all strata of society including leadership in academia, business, media houses, political activism, publishing; to name a few, requires a sense of urgency to make a meaningful move from thinking and talking, to doing; and to turn intentions into reality. The central question posed in the title seeks significant transformation that engenders not only socio-economic inclusion but also the acknowledgement of women as part of the equation and a formidable force in making Africa work”.

Makhubela’s illustrious academic career includes her appointment at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) as Deputy Vice-Chancellor in Postgraduate Studies, Research & Innovation (2013-2016); the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) between (2007-2009). Before that, amongst other prestigious appointments she has been Director of Transformation (2006-2007) at Wits University. She has supervised studies on township economies, spaza shops and radical economic transformation among other socio-economic studies. She has served as a member of editorial boards of some accredited journals including the Development Bank of Southern Africa which is one of the refereed journals in infrastructure and development finance. She has moderated high-level dialogues for BrandSA, one of which was on the Life and Times of Rholihlahla Nelson Mandela, as well as the South African Women in Dialogue (SAWID).

As an advocate for women empowerment, she is a long-standing active member of the Development Commission of SAWID since 2006. She currently serves on the Board of Khulisa Social Solutions that seeks to enhance social services to children, youth and families with an orientation towards crime reduction. She has participated in radio talk shows on Kaya, Metro, Motsweding, Power 98.7 radio stations addressing various developmental challenges facing South Africa and the continent as a whole.

She is a business owner, serial entrepreneur, founder and Managing Director of the African Research House. The company’s value proposition is in cost efficiency, institutional and individual transformation. The high-quality research consulting work produced over the 12 years include a Five-Year impact analysis of mitigation strategies on Gender Based Violence commissioned by POWA; institutional climate surveys; large-scale national citizen satisfaction surveys; feasibility studies; institutional impact studies; branding surveys; knowledge management scoping exercises and strategy development, as well as individual and institutional research skills development in all science domains.

Makhubela is a recipient of the prestigious 10 000 Women Entrepreneurs training programme facilitated by Gibs and funded by Goldman Sachs in 2013. The programme entailed a one-year intensive classroom and practical-based training in all facets of business coupled with observational visits to firms of successful women entrepreneurs in the Gauteng Province, South Africa.

The Africa Day celebrations at Wits take place ahead of the annual May 25 activities which commemorate the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) on 25 May 1963. The OAU was later renamed the African Union.

For the full Africa Day Programme please visit