Students were moved from their original residences, Parktown Village (PKV) and Esselen, which were officially shut down earlier this year. Students claim they were moved to more expensive residences, Rennie House in Braamfontein and Yale Village on Empire Road.
Sabelo Ngubeni, Yale Village House committee chairperson, rallied students in front of the Empire Road university gates on Thursday morning, saying: “It cannot be that this university is governable whereas we have issues like these. It cannot be that the (Residence Life board) comes here to grandstand and say they do not know our issues. The chairman of ARC (All Residence Council) is here and he knows our issues.
“It cannot be that in this institution that claims prestige, claims to be No1 in Africa and in the world, does such things to students.”
Students’ demands centred on maintenance issues, including:
* Uncapped wi-fi.
* Increased security.
* A convenient bus schedule that operates hourly from 6am to midnight.
* The provision of temporary wi-fi in the interim, as the company Respublica promised.
* Visiting hours that operate as per university of the Witwatersrand Residence Life and regulations.
* The removal of the Respublica facilities manager: only Wits University staff should administrate the residence.
* Consistency in maintaining and servicing lifts and laundry machines, and managing other maintenance problems.
Students burnt tyres and cones blocking the entrance to the Yale Road North entrance to the university.
“Students are protesting on a number of issues, including wi-fi access in their residence, they want a regular bus service from the residence to the entrance of the university which is about 400m, and the third thing is that they want more cleaning services,” said Rob Sharman, director of Campus Housing and Residence Life.
“These issues have not been raised with me by the house committee for the last three or four weeks. But it seems frustration had built up and the students decided to act this morning, in order to draw their concerns to the attention of management,” Sharman told The Star.
“The cleaning services are provided by the landlords, from whom we are leasing the premises,” he said.
According to cleaners who spoke to The Star, there were only four of them catering for 320 students each day. They had to clean all the premises and as a result some of the duties were not met because they were short-staffed.”
One of the cleaners said the res was understaffed and there were lots of rooms that should be cleaned, but most of the times they were not able to clean all of them.
Ngubeni added that he had paid R52 250 for a room and it had never been cleaned since he moved in back in January.
“We have an outbreak of a lot of females having bladder infections because they are using dirty toilets and dirty showers. And we do not have a bus to take us to campus at night and most of the ladies complain about sexual harassment,” said Ngubeni.
A memorandum of demands was drawn up and was later signed by the Dean of Students and the director of Campus Housing and Residence Life. By 1pm, the crowd had dispersed.