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Pretoria - Desperate prospective students who were sleeping on the streets outside Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) campuses have been provided with shelter in the city until they find out if they have been accepted or rejected by the institution.
Mayoral committee member for Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture Nozipho Makeke said the council had decided to make accommodation available for the aspirant students.
“We found accommodation at the city hall for males and Museum Park for the females until the university has decided which students they are taking,” she said.
Makeke said the city was also supplying the would-be students with transport to travel to the campuses daily to sort out their applications. “They are in our city and we could not leave them on the streets because by doing that, we would be saying they should be victims of crime,” said Makeke.
One of the lucky ones to finally have a roof over her head is Cindy Nxumalo from KwaZulu-Natal. She has been sleeping in the streets since Friday last week.
“Right now I’m very happy that I have a place to sleep,” said Nxumalo.
Makeke said they would engage with the Department of Higher Education and Training to ensure that in future, prospective students would not become victims of crime when they were trying to register.
Her statement follows the alleged gang-rape and robbery of a 20-year-old woman by four men near the TUT Soshanguve campus on Tuesday. She told police she and a group of friends had been walking to the campus to queue for a place.
The mayoral committee member for health and social development, Eulanda Mabusela, said on Wednesday that she had spent a few hours at a church in Soshanguve where people had been accommodated and had learnt that the gang-rape case was not the only incident.
Three other separate rapes had been reported, she said.
“This is a terrible thing to happen. They all came here to better their lives and study and such things happen.”
Mabusela said moves are afoot to arrange a meeting with the TUT management to map a way forward and avoid a repeat of such incidents.
On Thursday, they will meet pastors in Soshanguve to ask them to assist in accommodating the students as the numbers keep growing daily.
In Soshanguve, aspirant students are being accommodated at a church headed by Pastor Petros Ndlovu.
He said he knew of four rape cases, including the gang-rape. He said he could not bear to watch children sleeping in the streets and decided to take them in.
The young woman who was gang-raped was coming from the church and going to the institution with her friends when they were attacked.
Ndlovu said an increasing number of people were going to sleep at the church. “On Tuesday it was 168 people, but the number has now increased to at least 250.
“Although the conditions may not be favourable, they have a roof over their head,” he said.
Ndlovu is also giving the youngsters counselling to help them deal with problems they might be facing.
Police spokesman Warrant Officer Mathews Nkoadi said on Wednesday that he could not confirm the other rape cases as they were not reflected on police records.