Durban — Over two hundred registered students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College, have been left stranded and had to spend nights in a hall due to the unavailability of accommodation.
In videos and pictures seen by the Daily News, the students are seen lying on the floor, while others are sleeping seated in chairs.
First-year law student Nozipho Mazibuko, 19, from Newcastle, said she decided to come to campus after receiving her acceptance letter. However, she was shocked when she was told there was no accommodation for her, while she had indicated its need on the CAO.
Mazibuko said she has been moving from one place to another with other unhoused students, through the help of the Student Representative Committee, since last week.
“I do not know anyone here. I have nowhere to go. I was really hoping that by this time I would have gotten accommodation and be able to look forward to starting lectures from next week,” said Mazibuko.
She said her family had urged her to come back home, but she said she feared that they might not allow her to return due to the suffering she had endured.
Meanwhile, 20-year-old Zamokuhle Ngcobo, from Pietermaritzburg, said she was exhausted from trying to find residential accommodation.
Ngcobo, who has registered for a bachelor of social sciences degree, said she has been sleeping on the floor since last Thursday.
“I have slept in different places almost every night. Each place is worse, but beggars can’t be choosers. But I am tired, my body is sore and I cannot take it any more,” she said.
Ngcobo said she was at student housing on Monday with the hope of getting accommodation but was only told there were no spaces at 4pm.
“We sat outside for over seven hours, and later on we were told there were no spaces left. I think only 5% of students were taken. The rest of us were left stranded,” said Ngcobo.
SRC chairperson Andile Shange said the complications were due to the institution’s change of mind and approval of late applications.
He said it was the institution’s duty to ensure that more beds or residences were added to accommodate those students.
“For the past two weeks, we have been fighting for the same thing: to get these students accommodated, but it’s been difficult. The university is not taking the matter seriously. These students are registered and have to start their lectures next week. This issue should be a priority,” said Shange.
KZN EFF student command’s Inamandla Mabunda said it was disheartening to fight the same battles every year.
Meanwhile, the university’s executive director of corporate relations, Normah Zondo, said the department of student residence affairs was working hard to ensure that all qualifying students were registered for and provided with accommodation.
Zondo said 16 455 students, including 2 604 new students had registered and were allocated residences on Thursday. She said given the high number of enrolments versus the number of available beds, it was impossible to provide accommodation for every student registered at residences owned by the university.
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