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Sleeping on the street: students claim UWC evicted them from residences

Published Dec 20, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - A group of UWC students who resorted to sleeping on the streets and in other public spaces after being locked out of campus residences claim management “evicted” them without proper alternative accommodation.

According to South African Students Congress (Sasco) provincial chairperson, Mangaliso Nompulasa, a “tradition” was set in June and December, when UWC allowed students with pressing circumstances to stay at the residences, but this year things were “done differently”.

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“There is always a cost that accompanies the vacation accommodation, which varies. Immediately after exams concluded there was communication that there would be alternative accommodation for the remaining students and that campus must be cleared.

“Students were given a list of private accommodation with different pricing per day, varying from R75 to R200, where they could make their own arrangements until campus residences reopen in February.”

Jabulani Mkhize, a BScHons in Water and Environmental Science student said he would try to get money to go home to KZN, but would then not be able to return.

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“Some slept at a train station, others, including women, on the street.

“The evictions started at 3pm on Friday and the residences were locked People were only allowed to go in and take their clothes and then get out.

“The university wants to bill us for private accommodation, which will added onto the accommodation bill we already have.”

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UWC spokesperson Gasant Abarder insisted there were no “evictions” and said a process was followed for residences to be vacated as part of preparations for policy implementation in January.

“An approach of integrated Covid-19 planning and implementation has 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 students and the campus community of the need for residences to be vacated.”

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He said about 50 students out of 2 500 had “not complied” by Sunday afternoon.

“There were no evictions and students were allowed to take their personal belongings and clothing. The situation is calm and being resolved.

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”.

He said the university had negotiated delayed payment arrangements for the categories of vulnerable students and continued to offer students opportunities to vacate their rooms.

Cape Times

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