Day 12: A true Mayfair welcome

From deciding that my video was going to be around Aboo Mohammed a police reservist, I was invited to his home in the heart of Mayfair to interview his wife and shoot some images of them at home.

On arrival I was welcomed with such warmth t it was as if I was part of the family. Not only did I manage to get all that I needed for my story, I was treated to some of the best food I have ever had. The minute I walked into the house the smell of spices overtook and there was instantly a sense of a true home. Aboo has two stunning children and a beautiful wife who was so hospitable and makes THE BEST achar I have ever tasted.

What was most interesting for me was listening to both Abo and his wife’s views on crime in the area. Aboo has always said to me that he believes that the driving force of crime in Mayfair is desperation. “People are hungry and are desperate to live and then things go wrong.” Aboo said as we spoke about the rise in crime in the area.

His wife on the other hand believes that a lot of it has to do with foreigners in the area. This highlighted something very interesting for me. Sometimes community perception of crime is not always a reality. What was also interesting was the fact that even though they live with a family and Aboo’s wife worries often about safety, she told me she would not move from the home “it has sentimental value, I grew up in this house with my mother and after she passed I realised most of my memories of here are in these walls so that is why I stay. But for my families sake I think eventually we might have to move.” Aboo however says he has no intention of moving. “I have lived in many places but somehow I always land up back in Mayfair.”

Aboo is an inspiration to me and I am so happy to have met him. There are not many people out there who take their passion and pursue it especially when it means taking time out of their lives to protect the lives of others. I truly hold Aboo in such high regard and admire his passion for the community and his family.

Day 11: #WitsFeesWILLFall

It started out like such normal day I walked into the Wits Art Museum I noticed the streets of Braam were missing the usual hustle and bustle. I walked into our labs and then heard singing coming from downstairs I spoke to the class and one of our lectures said that students were blocking the entrances of the university. At this stage it was something that I had not heard of and seemed like something that would eventually die down. Little did I know I was sitting at the start of a point that will be spoken about forever. This was the start of the #WitsFeesMustFall campaign”. It amazes me that these students managed to mobilise so fast and at such a great volume I had not heard about this till today. Some of my classmates chose to join the protest others decided to try and cover it resulting in some amazing images!

This completely put a pause on our work schedule and I believe rightfully so. Many people have asked me about the situation and my opinion, truth be told I completely understand where these individuals are coming from and why they are protesting. I know that if I ask for something and I feel as if I am being ignored eventually I am going to start shouting and that is what I believe is happening here now. Students are not being taken seriously. These fee increases are exorbitant. Even those who come from a middle class household will feel it. This will result in further division of classes and the issue of poverty in the country will never be relieved.

The decision to raise these fees were not fully considered and those in charge did not expect the reaction that they received. Now however it is time for Wits management and these higher education institutions to rethink their perception of students. If anything the past year has proven that students are becoming proactive around what they believe in and are willing to do anything to achieve what they have demanded.

It will be interesting to see what will come from these protests. What an amazing time to be a university student.

Day 10: The official run around

Yesterday we had to hand in the first draft of our written feature and wait for feedback from our mentor. I received some really helpful comments from my mentor and have a much better idea of where my story should go.

One of the points Ruth told me to add was some comment from the police well let me tell you getting an answered from the police is worse then trying to fins stats!

I was shuffled from one person to the next all of them saying that they are not the right person to speak to try this person and I have been battling to get it right I really hope that by Thursday I will have found someone. This written piece is looming over my head and is really starting to stress me out. On the brighter side just over 2 more weeks and I need not stress anymore!!!

Day 9: The story of a everyday hero

As I have mentioned before a large part of this in-depth project is to produce a short video that tells a story that you touched on in your written feature. So I decided to focus mainly on the Community Policing Forum for my video. Today we had to come up with a draft of a storyboard for our video mentor Zaheer.

While I haven’t been able to be apart of many videos this year as I mostly concentrated on radio I really do enjoy video and was excited to get this process started.

I had already organised to shoot my first video that day and had planned to chat to Aboo Mohamed, a gentleman that I met at the neighbourhood watch and who has been so helpful, I also planned on filming a ride along with him as he is a POLICE reservist. I also planned to chat to a restaurant owner in the area that had experienced crime on more then one occasion and finally I was planning to chat to a member of the community that the CPF had helped that would give comment on what she thinks about the CPF and the work they do in Mayfair.

Once again my plans shifted and Zaheer came up with an awesome idea to base the story not on the CPF and the work they do but rather on Aboo Mohamed and his family and the fact that this man takes time out of his life to patrol Mayfair and look after others.

While this means that my initial plan is out the window it also means that I have a little less stress!!! Here is hoping I get something good on the patrol.

Day 8: 6am in Soweto

Photo: Raquel De Canha

Photo: Raquel De Canha

As part of this in-depth project we all have to work in a group mainly for assistance during the filming and sound part of the multi-media features, it is in my opinion what our class really needed. I am going to be completely honest, part of the reason I have struggled with this year is the competitive environment that we have been working in. we are a class of twenty, nineteen of which are female (this is testing enough) all of which come from different walks of life and have strong opinions. It was inevitable that heads would knock, and is true for any office environment, I however think that the tense environment may have been fueled by our lectures at the very beginning of the year.

When we all first sat down as a class the department from the word go made it feel like those around us were our competition, this immediately sparked the idea that we all needed to one up on each other and BOOM it was like the Hunger Games, each man for themselves and cliques within the class began to develop and by the middle of the year the tension exploded and left in its wake 20 people that did not trust each other and really couldn’t wait to never see each other again.

Fast forward to October and now we are working in groups we now need these people that we have been lead to believe were our opponents. One of my group members Analisa asked if I would help her film something for her video, of course I say yes it isn’t going hurt me. Then she tells me she needs to be in Soweto by 6:30. To be honest I was not looking forward to it, mainly because I do not really become my cheery self until after 9 am. But I knew I would need her help at some point.

So Tuesday arrived and I was up at 5:00 (Well at least the Zombie version of me was up) I picked up Analisa and to my surprise Anleri, another girl in our group was also there. We got into our car and rushed of to the spaza shop and we did what we had been taught this whole year and I think we did it pretty damn well. We got the work done and surprise, surprise between early morning Soweto selfies and Analisa falling off a chair we actually has a couple laughs together.

Truth is every single person in the class is brilliant, each one has a niche and there was no need to feel like we were all fighting for the last job position in the country, this is one of the major issues I have with how the department started the year, and I hope that they do not do this in future. I recall so clearly when we first arrived one of our lectures Joanne saying “the classes that do the best are always close” but they didn’t even give us the opportunity to like each other. Personally this in-depth part of the year has been the most rewarding. I have learnt more about the people I saw everyday in these last few weeks, I have seen just how well they work and it really has encouraged me to make this in-depth the best work I have done this year. This whole year we have been surrounded my amazing woman and Reuven (our only male) and we have been too busy disliking one another to appreciate it.

So to my group thank you for being so helpful and making me realise that we weren’t alone this whole time I wish you all nothing but the best in your journeys ahead and I have no doubt that you will achieve all that you set you minds to, and I know this to be true for the whole of the 2015 Wits journalism class.

Day 7: Chasing the stats

It is funny I have spoken about the importance of sources and how difficult it can be to get a hold of them. However I have been fortunate that the people I have spoken to have been in constant contact with me and have been so gracious in helping me get through this project. The trouble for me has been trying to get useful and understandable crime statistics for the area.

Where I do find stats it is like trying to crack a code its impossible to find figures that are straight forward and self explanatory. The problem I think is that, as you may recall I sat in on a Community Policing Forum meeting on Tuesday where the statistics were discussed, I however am not able to repeat these stats or I will be criminally charged and honestly I don’t think its worth me being arrested for. Although I do think it is strange, as a community they should be allowed to know the rate of crime in the area and what types of crimes are most prevalent, these facts and the awareness could help them prevent some of the crime.

I managed to call the Rising Sun which is the Mayfair and Fordsburg local newspaper and they told me they publish the stats weekly in their paper, it was only when I took a look at the stats that I saw that they were very non descriptive I asked the editorial team where they received these numbers and I was told that they are compiled and sent to the paper from the police.

Just from hearing that I knew that this was not the full representation of crime in the area. It seems the police do not want to release all the details as they do not want to stir panic in the community, or at least this is what I was told at the community policing forum meeting. So I will just have to keep looking.

This is a type of journalism that intrigues me and my mentor is willing to help me make it work. Lets hope I get it right.

Day 6: “Oh you’re a journalist.”

I pulled up to the Brixton Police station feeling quite confident, (mistake number one) I had spoken to the captain of the station and was given permission to join in on the conversation and I was feeling like everything was going my way (mistake number two).

I walked into the meeting office and there was no one there yet except for a policeman who looked like his day was going worse then my year, and was very uninterested in the fact that I was joining the group discussion today, that was until I said that I was a journalism student suddenly he was on high alert and I swear for a second he even had a cocky grin on his face. “Oh you’re a journalist. Just so you know, as a journalist you are not allowed to repeat what happens in this room. ” the look on my face must have been very amusing to the gentlemen as he was in no way willing to explain when I asked why, his reply was “no you just can’t.”

I left the room with a lot less confidence then I had walking in. I called up my mentor and it was decided that this would be used as more of a contact making project then anything else.

So that was that, I sat in on the meeting that took three hours and oh how I wish I could tell you what I heard. While I might not be able to publish what was said in that meeting, it was a great way to get inside of the minds of the Mayfair community.

So I left the meeting with some great insight on how the community is operating and some really great contacts. I got to chatting to a gentleman named Aboo, who is one of the leaders of the Mayfair neighbourhood watch and he gave me permission to ride along with him one night as part of the neighbourhood patrol. This was great news and I can see the video part of in-depth pan out and I will have something awesome to pitch to my multi media mentor on Friday.

So I have learnt, nothing goes as you expect it to, you just learn to roll with the punches.