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UKZN students protest over maintenance and safety issues at their residence

Published Oct 20, 2021


DURBAN – Students of the University of KwaZulu-Natal staying at Seaboard Accommodation embarked on a protest on Tuesday morning.

The students blockaded the entrance of Seapoint Towers in Point South Beach with burning tyres and were throwing broken bottles on the street outside the building. As a result, the police partially closed West Street and Mahatma Gandhi Road.

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The protest was over problems with wi-fi, security, furniture and maintenance.

A student representative from the South African Students Congress (Sasco), Gift Phewa, said the demonstration was aimed at highlighting issues affecting the students.

Among these, Phewa said, was wi-fi connection issues affecting the students’ ability to do their work.

“Due to the pandemic almost everything is online. However, students in this residence are unable to meet their deadlines because the wi-fi is not working properly. The university has been notified numerous times – they keep telling the students that the connection will be fixed. The wi-fi has not been working properly for years. Yet every time we report it they promise to fix it in weeks and nothing has changed,” he said.

Phewa said students were also concerned about their safety as they share the building with other tenants.

“The toilets are not working properly. The doors are not locked, which compromises the safety of the students mostly because the building is shared with other tenants who are not students. Last year we received numerous complaints of attempted rapes in this building due to the same problems. We reported most of these cases but the institutions have done nothing to prevent them,” he said.

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Normah Zondo, UKZN’s executive director of corporate relations, said the institution would engage to resolve the concerns raised.

“The university will engage with both students and landlords with a view to finding a speedy resolution to the complaints,” said Zondo.

Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said on Tuesday police were at the scene to monitor and stabilise the situation.

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