Durban — Two final-year students on the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Howard College Campus have been left without accommodation since February.
The self-funded students paid the required R3 500 deposit for accommodation but the university has failed to allocate them a place to live for over two months, and they have been sleeping on the floor of the university premises.
One student, who refused to be named, said they had been in constant communication with the university’s Department of Student Residence Affairs every day but nothing had been done.
“We have been following up on the accommodation issue from February until now, but the housing staff seem to be distancing themselves from the matter. The only response we get is that they will notify us if there are available spaces,” said the student.
“It is a struggle to adjust to this situation because we cannot properly concentrate on our studies and we do not get enough time to prepare for our tests. My academic performance has dropped because I am always stressed.”
He said he had not told his family about the situation because it would worry them.
“My family lives far away in eShowe, and I am afraid they will be stressed if they hear that I am destitute, because their hopes lie in my academic excellence.
“I have been struggling to eat proper food since I do not have a place of my own, and I am struggling to buy takeaways because I have run out of money,” said the student.
He said that sometimes he squatted with fellow students for shelter.
“My belongings are scattered all over since I do not have privacy of my own.
“If I am at a friend’s place, I am forced to spend most of my time outside and come back at night just so that I do not crowd their space,” said the student.
He said his living conditions had not only left him stranded but had also affected his health and personal hygiene.
“I have developed an eye infection, which is something I never had before.
“I hardly wash my clothes, and to wake up every day not knowing where you are going to sleep is an unbearable pain,” said the student.
Another student who refused to be named said his circumstances had caused him mental distress. “I do not think I will ever recover from this trauma.
“I have been sleeping on the floor for over seven weeks and have been coughing from the flu ever since.
“During the Easter holidays I did not even get a chance to visit my family in Pietermaritzburg because I was camping out in the housing offices hoping to resolve this issue. “It has been both a struggle and a pain living on takeaways, since we do not have student funding this year,” said the student.
UKZN’s executive director of corporate relations, Normah Zondo, said the university was aware of the matter.
“One student was informed by the Department of Student Residence Affairs that unfortunately there were no spaces available for him at the university-owned and -managed residences.
“He was provided with alternative private accommodation, which he declined, and we advised him that he would get priority once a space became available,” said Zondo.
Meanwhile, in February the Daily News reported that more than 200 registered students from UKZN’s Howard College Campus had been left stranded and had to spend several nights in a university hallway owing to the unavailability of student accommodation.
The university’s SRC chairperson, Andile Shange, said the complications were as a result of the institution changing its mind and deciding to approve late applications.
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