Townhall meeting – 18 August 2016

Dear Staff and Students

Thank you for attending the Town Hall meeting.  To listen to the podcast of the meeting please click here.

Questions and Answers:

Q:Why has the University instituted paternity leave?

A: There has been a long campaign to institute paternity leave at the University. After a lengthy process it was approved by Senate and Council. There are still many questions around the feasibility of this in the current climate as all privileges in the university are be reassessed.


Q: Why has only Phase One of the language policy been implemented. When is the University planning to roll out Phase Two?

A: As far as implementation is concerned with respect to the Language Policy, we have been hamstrung by budgets. The Language Board is in the process of been established and we have progressed well with the database. We have already started looking at part of Phase Two by asking all new signage to be in more than one language. We also looking at changing the letterhead on all stationary, as well as roll out of African Language short courses for the university community through the Wits language School. The latter will become available in 2017.


Q: Why is there no Customary Law offered at the School of Law?

A: When the School of Law revised its curriculum in 2012, customary law was phased out because at the time it was felt that students saw customary law as a stand-alone (unrelated) course outside family law and constitutional law. It was decided then that customary law would be incorporated into those two courses (and to some extent incorporated into the Introduction to Law and other courses) so that students can see that there’s no family law or constitutional law and customary law being a parallel course that falls outside these other courses.  The 2012 curriculum reforms were a bid to mainstream the customary law course and ensure that it was well and truly regarded as part of South African law on par with common law.  It was decided that customary law would be taught in the distinct areas of law where matters fell (e.g. customary marriage law in family law, customary succession law in succession etc).

In constitutional law, customary law has been incorporated as part of government structures via traditional courts and traditional leaders. Whether this and other revisions have been properly done is a different question as is the question to revisit or not to revisit the decision alongside other decisions to remove other courses.


Q: There have been incidents of poor service to students at Campus Health. Please can this be investigated?

A: In response to queries that were raised with regard to the provision of healthcare on campus, particularly in emergency cases, the University would like to confirm the following:

  • The cost of seeing a nurse is R20 for residence students and R50 for non-residence students. This charge barely covers the cost of providing the service.
  •  The University has five nurses in total, and one is stationed at the Education Campus. There is always at least one nurse who is dedicated to emergency cases.
  •  All students who indicate that they might be experiencing an emergency will be attended to by a qualified healthcare practitioner, regardless of whether they can produce payment. This practitioner will determine whether it is an emergency, and will arrange for treatment if necessary. If students have indicated that they might be experiencing an emergency, and have not been provided access to a qualified healthcare practitioner, they should please call 011 717 9111.
  •  Non-emergency cases should preferably make an appointment by calling Campus Health at 011 717 9113.


Q: Why do we have police presence currently on campus and how much do we spend on private security?

A: A violent and unlawful incident at the Law Library precipitated the need for police presence on campus. We cannot risk the life of a single student or staff member. When there is threat of imminent protest action that could result in violence and our duty is to protect our constituents.

We spend almost R1.5 million a month on private security as they are under the management of the University. The SAPS are not under our management and take instructions from their superiors only. We prefer managing security ourselves, and therefore will only depend on SAPS when there is unlawful and violent behaviour.