Feature Stories

Online feature length stories and opinion pieces compiled for Voice of the Cape Website  

A Moment of Reflection: Do Cape Muslims need to change the way they do charity?

Zapiro latest cartoon highlights the need for new political discourse 

Anti-Zuma march in Cape Town exposes middle class concerns 

Top Ten developments in the Cape Muslim community – 2016

Flaws of the Rainbow Nation 

#FeesMustFall – Blade Nzimande decoded


News Stories

Links to Online News Stories written for Voice of the Cape Website:

District Six residents up in arms over poorly constructed homes

Metrorail steps up as National bus strike looms

National Shutdown driven by liberal cause to “unite” South Africa

IHATA shelter faces difficulties as International Donor cuts funding

Democratic Alliance tiptoes around Israel’s Apartheid system

News Inserts

Short radio news inserts that I compiled for Voice of the Cape radio.

[Originally aired 31 March 2017 on the Breakfast show]

Social Justice Coalition members staged a silent protest during the City of Cape Town’s (CoCT’s) budget where SJC members put on masks of Mayor Patricia de Lille’s face and held up posters that indicated what the CoCT’s budget really says. The posters included statements such as “Cape Town is not for poor people” and “My budgets are always anti-poor”.

Rafieka Williams spoke to SJC’s Axolile Notywala who said their actions during the Mayor’s draft budget speech were motivated by the City’s exclusion of poor communities from the budget process.

[Originally aired on 24 March 2017 on the Breakfast show]

The Worcester community of Riverview and Avian park has recently made headlines from a video where a young male was documented being shot and killed in a gang related incident. Police say they are investigating two cases of murder, four of attempted murder and others of public violence and malicious damage to property.

Rafieka Williams spoke to residents to understand what effect this violence has had on the community…

[Originally aired 17 February 2017 on the Breakfast show]

The Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA) picketed in the CBD for the protection of natural water sources and the end to selling of land to developers and big businesses. Rafieka Williams was there and filed this report…

[Originally aired on 8 February 2017 on the Breakfast Show]

The State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered by the President focuses on current political and socio-economic state of the nation based on government assessments. But, we cannot assume that the address fully incorporates the views of the ordinary people of South Africa.

Rafieka Williams was at the briefing of The PSONA report which looks at the public opinion perceptions of ordinary South Africans, who were surveyed by the (IJR) through the South African Reconciliation Barometer (SARB) and the Afrobarometer.

[Originally aired 27 October 2016 on the Breakfast show]

Several thousand students marched through Cape Town to demand “free decolonised education”. Just as the march was set to end and disperse, violence broke out, bringing chaos to the CBD. VOC’s Rafieka Williams was on the ground and filed this report.

[Originally aired 30 September 2016 on the Breakfast show]

Now tensions are still high at Universities across the country with the #feesmustfall movement refusing to budge on their mission for free education and it seems disruptions might be continue if their call is ignored. Whilst students are gearing up to intensify their campaign, vice Chancellors from some of the top universities got together earlier this week to discuss the national issue. VOC Rafieka Williams filed this special report on the Private security measures at University campuses across the country.



In-depth Coverage

Features for Voice of the Cape radio, written, produced and narrated by Rafieka Williams

[Originally aired 17 March 2017 on the Breakfast show]

President Jacob Zuma and Social Development minister may have assured that 17 million grant beneficiaries will be paid out next month but fears of non-payment are brimming among those who most affected. VOC news spoke to some of the people to understand their thoughts and fears about the only income they receive not being paid on April 1st…

[Originally Aired on 9 February 2017 on the Breakfast show]

While the state of the Nation Address will be focusing on government’s policy, there are also many organisations that assist government and civil society in achieving development. These organisations make vital contributions when it comes to ground work where government lack’s in service delivery.

VOC’s Rafieka Williams spoke to The Development Action Group to understand the areas where the state can improve in terms of achieving adequate housing.

[Originally aired 16 December 2016 on the Drive Time show]

Despite progress since 1994, South African society remains divided. The privilege attached to race, class, space and gender has not yet been fully reversed. There have been rapid improvements in access to basic services, but their quality continues to be affected by who you are and where you live.
Rafieka Williams speaks to Benjamin Roberts from the Human Science Research Council to find out why racist attitudes continue to exist in South Africa.

[Originally aired on 8 December 2016 on Breakfast Beat show]

As part of our 16 Days of Activism coverage. Rafieka Williams looked at how male dominance, masculinity and patriarchy is considered contributing factors to the issues of gender and sexual violence.

The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, hosted a public dialogue on the Identity and Being Coloured in a Black and White South Africa. VOC news reporter Rafieka William was at the event and filed this report.

The call for free decolonised education is one of the hallmarks of the current Fees must fall movement. What was last year, a movement to bring an awareness to the outcry of non-privileged students at universities across the country has now transformed to a broader agenda that speaks to the experiences of the non-privileged student, rather than just accessibility but what that accessibility entails. Rafieka Williams has more on this story…

The advent of the “rainbow nation” was an idea coined by Desmond Tutu to ensure stability and cohesion among the diverse people in South Africa. With the advent of democracy, there was a promise from the newly elected ANC government to correct the imbalances of Apartheid and create an inclusive society where all citizens had equal opportunities and freedom. But 22 years later the promise of freedom has been lost. Rafieka Williams, interrogates the idea of a rainbow nation.

Literature Talk

A list of interviews I did with writers discussing literature and the arts.

Khadija Tracey Carmelita Heeger was born Cape Town. She was raised on the Cape Flats in the township of Hanover Park. She started performing when she was nine years old, her dream was to be an actress, but at 15, she started writing seriously and this is how she expresses herself now. She is a well-known and popular performance poet. Rafieka Williams spoke to her on the significance of poetry.


Yolisa Qunta is an associate editor at Jucyafrica.com and a columnist at allforwomen.co.za. She spent her formative years in Zimbabwe and Botswana as a child to political exiles and returned to South Africa with her family in 1993. She is the first time author of the book “Writing What We Like”, a compilation of essays which includes the voices of Shaka Sisulu, Ilhaam Rawoot, Nama Xam, Lwandile Fikeni, Sibusiso Tsabalala among others. Released last month her book is already on the top ten seller’s at Exclusive books. We chat to her today about the what has been described as a snapshot of what smart, young South Africans think about… Guest: Yolisa Qunta


Covering a wide range of topics, including politics, history, current events and celebrity gossip, this compilation of recent and new writings contains Fred Khumalo’s trademark blend of humour and shrewd analysis, as well as his treatment of everyday issues from a uniquely South African perspective. An entertaining collection of thoughts from one of the country’s most seasoned journalists, offering many questions, and tongue-in-cheek answers, on who we are as a nation, where we are going, and how we compare to the rest of the world. Rafieka Williams spoke to Fred Khumalo on his latest book.


Photography – semester 2

Decolonising the Literary landscape

Questions of race and colonial structures of literature brought to the fore at the Jacana Media discussion about decolonising the literary landscape.

This year the Franschoek Literary Festival (FLF) opened up a whole can of worms about the dominance of white privilege in the literary space when Author Thando Mqgolozana said that he was fed up with attending festivals like FLF where most people in attendance are white.

“Is anger Underated?” was the topic of discussion that caused what was considered an honest reaction from Mqgolozana. An article posted in the Daily Maverick, noted the literary festival as a place “where a lot was said but much more remained unsaid.”

The discussion at Wits raised important questions about decolonising the literary space in South Africa and urged those in the room to take a hard look at differences in the culture of reading that black and white people experience.

Eusebius McKaiser led the discussion along with authors Thando Mgqolozana and Siphiwo Mahala, as well as Ben Williams, Sunday Times books editor and founder of Books LIVE, and Corina van der Spoel, Franschoek literary festival organiser.

McKaiser made sure that the ground rules were set by elaborating and expanding on the reasons why Mqgolozana said he wouldn’t go to literary festivals of FLF’s nature. He explained that he was “sick and tired” of being the black writer who is only invited to make the audience understand race.

“The white South African authors, book editors, publisher’s are highly unaware of the un-erred privileges that come with being a white author,” said Mckaiser. He reiterated that this was ultimately something that they had to confront themselves with because it is no accident that only certain books are successful and punted.

These books are usually books that maintain a certain level of black people as ‘anthropological subjects’ and serve white people with a sense of satisfaction when they read it, thinking that when they’ve read a book about black people, they understand them. “That is something that white liberals have to confront themselves with and failure to do so puts you on a continuum with Steve Hofmeyr,” said McKaiser.

This set the tone for the conversation that at one point had an Englishman Ben Williams saying, “There is no opportunity for black literature” and then apologising for his exercise of capitalist systems that limit black literature as a book editor and publisher in South Africa.

The man in government stuck to diplomatic obedience and stated that he indeed knows what the problem is – lack of accessibility to books in places like townships – telling the audience that he can’t even find his own book in the community where he grew up. “We need an integrated approach and try to work together as a collective,” he added.

The discussion however moved to a question that sparked an immediate and emotional reaction from the audience when Corina Van de Spoel asked, “Are black parents buying books and reading for their children?” followed by a “Go find your audience,” and “Where is the black bourgeoisie?”

When Mqgolozana finally spoke he turned towards Van de Spoel and bluntly stated, “This is why Rhodes must fall.”

His statement was followed by comments that further explained the ways in which barriers of entry into a culture of reading are so high for black people in South Africa and in the end, white ownership and overt racist execution of white dominance was the answer.

No doubt the audience had their say with regards to Van De Spoel’s commentary and the discussion was helpful to those who didn’t understand the black writer’s struggle.

The outcome of the discussion (as important as it was, and those in attendance all play a major role in the ways in which the literary landscape can change for the better,) was that there is a level of self determination that is required with invigorating a culture of reading among black South Africans because the way in which it is set up, decolonisation is not happening any time soon.

No democracy for Wits EFF

ILLEGITIMATE DEMOCRACY: Mcebo Dlamini, former SRC president, thinks that the university’s decision to cut the EFF from elections was unfair and undemocratic.

The Economic Freedom Fighters club and society (CSO) was banned after members of the CSO took the stage and disrupted the what was supposed to be a Student Representative Council (SRC) election debate. The election however continued after the CSO was banned but not many people agreed to the fairness of that decision.

When a fight broke out in the great hall after the Project W confronted the EFF for causing a disruption and effectively not allowing the SRC debate to happen, people were shocked that the situation became violent – shouting, shoving and fists being thrown around. And when seven students were suspended for their involvement, there was an of outcry from Witsies who noticed the unequal way disciplinary rules were being enforced by the university.

At the time the university took it a step further and banned the EFF from operating as a CSO and effectively pulling it from the elections. The ban was later lifted but the EFF were not allowed to participate in the elections. For students this limited their options and questions around the legitimacy of the elections was raised.

Dlamini who is studying a Post Graduate LLB said that “Democratic centralism and even democracy have failed, it has collapsed. It’s not fair because we have reduced participation. Even those who will be in office, they will be illegitimate.”

“I don’t think it’s right that they didn’t at least get like a fair chance. As much as they were kicked out there may have been a portion of Wits that wanted them there and that’s why they’re there, is to bring change. So they should’ve at least deserved a chance.” Said Enrico Pespizolo, a 2nd year, Architecture student.

Another student, Brittany Lawton said that, “I don’t think it’s fair because obviously they’re still a party that needs to be voted for and they still need to be part of elections but at the same time considering what they did maybe it was handled right.”

Many students disagreed with the way elections took place and CSO’s who didn’t necessarily support the EFF said that the whole process of campaigning and elections did not go well. A reflection of uneasy times at Wits University.

The Wits Rag society celebrates Women’s month

IMG_0131PETALS OF EMPOWERMENT: The Rag pub was beautifully decorated to welcome the few who attended the Women’s month celebration event. Photo Rafieka Williams

The Wits Rag society hosted a Women’s Month event to highlight the experiences of women in South Africa. One of the few events at Wits to have taken place in the course of the month, it took place on August 6 with just under 30 people in attendance.

Held in the cozy Rag pub, in the basement of the Matrix the organisers set up a free intimate poetry session for students. The poets who performed included Thando Buthelezi and Nobuhle Khanyile both of whom do not take the art of poetry very lightly.

The aim was to bring about an awareness about women’s struggles, and also celebrate and empower women. Although the entrance was free, attendees were encouraged to give donations for the The Diary Of Esther, a charity and education initiative that focuses on the transformation of the girl into a woman and what that process does to young women, especially girls who come from areas where menstruation is a taboo subject.

The inititative donates sanitary pads and towels to needy girls in schools and universities. They also have an education programme where they involve boys in understanding what happens to a girls body when she is on her peiod.

Sibongile Bhebhe, one of the representatives of the Diary of Esther said that “Since time in memorial, periods have been something that we do not want to talk about, something that scares us, something that people are shy about, so what the Diary of Esther has done, we want people to understand – why the period?”

Although the turn-out was low, the response from people who attended the event was that it really struck a chord. Mostly students feel that women are not celebrated enough at Wits.

Zoe Ngwenya said, “I’m a firm believer in the notion of empowering women and as an aspiring feminist I feel that it was really important for me to be here and to stand and to see what other women had to say about women and the experiences.” Ngwenya also thinks that, “We could do with more events like this where more guys actually attend these events. We need to actually also involve men in such things because they are very ignorant to certain things that involve women.”

Another student in attendance Charlie Hadebe said more events like this need to happen “on a large scale, on a huge scale, I mean most of our lecturers aren’t females, academic world, business world, it’s not enough”.

“This was very educating and it opened a lot of eyes, I was opened to a different view of women because I didn’t know a lot and as some of the speakers have said that we guys don’t understand. The people who were speaking and performing, they gave me an insight into what it really is to be a woman” said Mamphofulane Mohale, one of the few male students in attendance. He said that he doesn’t think the university is doing enough to empower woman because the only other event he’d seen was Vow FM, the campus radio station, asking people to write messages on a piece of paper at the library lawns to celebrate women.

“Definitely it’s not enough, women need more recognition in this school and I think the school can do better… People are not being made aware and they’re not being taught the importance of women’s month.” said Mogale.

There is no one way to be a Muslim woman

I’ve decided to focus on women in Islam outside the Somali community in Mayfair. Although that was the bulk of what we got to experience about Mayfair, I know there is more to the area. Also, I believe there is not one way to be a muslim woman and that should be thoroughly explored, mostly because people’s perceptions toward muslim women are so skewed in South Africa. And these are my own experiences.

Muslim women are not oppressed and are not confined into one identity. What interests me is that although Islam is the over-arching religion in the area. It is the religion that most of the residents practice, and because of the nature of the islamic religion, it often feeds into your lifestyle, giving it cultural significance as well. But within the framework of a predominantly muslim community, there are ways in which people express their own cultures differently.

Islam is a religion and yes it is a way of life. It seeps into every part of a muslim life and dictate the choices that muslimah make in their own personal capacity. A muslim will make a decision about their lives by following muslim laws and traditions.

In my opinion Islam has been able to feed across different races and different histories all over the world because it is a religion that one can easily assimilate into without discarding other parts of your identity. You don’t have to stop being black to be muslim. You don’t have to have money to be muslim. You don’t have to wear a scarf all day every day to be a muslim. Islam accepts everyone and unites people under one belief.

This to me is fascinating because people their differences into their lives and make it part of an islamic culture. In masjied I sit next to Turkish, Lebanese, Indian, Somali, South African people and when we pray, we stand shoulder to shoulder because we are all muslim. There is a community there connected under one umbrella which I think is amazing.

In the Cape Malay culture especially, there are things that are distinctly Cape Malay that the Indian community for example, does ascribe to, but is still closely tied to the Cape Malay people’s religious beliefs and Islamic routes in South Africa. I’m hoping I can look at this more closely and compare it to the ways that Indian women in particular are distinct in their own cultural and religious practices, something that goes beyond food.