Student leaders address students after the evictions at UWC. Picture: Supplied
Student leaders address students after the evictions at UWC. Picture: Supplied

UWC denies evicting students, says closure of residences part of Covid-19 response

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Dec 20, 2021

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Cape Town - UWC has been accused of evicting hundreds of students, leaving many to sleep outside or on the streets, while others locked themselves in their rooms to avoid eviction.

But the university denied the students were being evicted, saying the closing of residences was part of its response to Covid-19.

A student, who asked to remain anonymous, said among them were students who were doing their research and used the university’s laboratories, students who have accepted job offers to pay for the 10% upfront payment by the university to register at the beginning of the year.

He said the evictions started on Friday night, where students returned to their residences to find they had been locked out, and some were told to vacate the buildings.

SA Students’ Congress (Sasco) provincial chairperson Mangaliso Nompula said on the usual/traditional vacation periods in June and December, UWC allowed students who had pressing circumstances to remain behind during vacations.

Nompula said students understood the vacation was not part of the academic calendar, so there were costs that accompanied vacation accommodation.

“What happened this year was that vacation communication was not given to students for some odd reason,” Nompula said.

UWC spokesperson Gasant Abarder said there were no evictions. However, a process was followed for residences to be vacated as part of the preparations for policy implementation in January.

Abarder said the health and safety of staff and students was of paramount importance to UWC. Therefore, an approach of integrated Covid-19 planning and implementation had been taken.

“In line with this, the decision of the UWC Covid-19 response task team was that all UWC residences would be closed from December 17. The task team circulated a notice on December 2, informing the students and campus community of the need for residences to be vacated,” he said.

He said over the vacation period all university facilities, including residences, needed to be prepared for access management in 2022.

He said to assist students, residential services provided a list of available private accommodation spaces and students were informed about what arrangements could be made to accommodate them off-campus, including at university leased off-campus accommodation.

“Residential services have come alongside students eligible for vacation accommodation and provided them with shuttles to off-campus accommodation. The vast majority of students have complied with the directive,” he said.

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