Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University students blocked off The Park Lodge, in Pretoria CBD on Friday, demanding that the owners of their residence who also run the lodge, address their grievances including crime at the Drie Lelies residence. Photo: Jonisayi Maromo / ANA
Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University students blocked off The Park Lodge, in Pretoria CBD on Friday, demanding that the owners of their residence who also run the lodge, address their grievances including crime at the Drie Lelies residence. Photo: Jonisayi Maromo / ANA
Photo: Jonisayi Maromo / ANA.
Photo: Jonisayi Maromo / ANA.
Photo: Jonisayi Maromo / ANA
Photo: Jonisayi Maromo / ANA

PRETORIA - Hundreds of irate Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU) students brought traffic in Pretoria CBD to a standstill as they marched to confront the company managing their "concentration camp-like" residence.

The group of protesters, led by Tshwane Metro Police and the South African Police Service, descended on The Park Lodge along Jeff Masemola Street, blocking off the entrance and demanding to see management. 

The students said The Park Lodge owners run their Drie Lelies residence a few streets away.

"We've been requesting since 2017 to have WiFi in the students' residence. Technicians come to our residence almost each week, but we do not have working WiFi. The problem has actually got worse after those technicians. How do you expect is as students to do our schoolwork without connectivity? We've paid you full amounts to stay there so we need proper service," South African Students Congress (Sasco) member and one of the protesters, Hope Raswiswi, said while addressing accommodation bosses, led by a woman only identified as Christel. She declined to speak to media.

The students also lamented criminal activities in their premises and lack of CCTV cameras at Drie Lelies, along the busy Sisulu Street in Pretoria central.

"We are reporting [incidents of] theft but we do not get whoever is responsible because the cameras are not working. The cameras there are just for decoration, and we need them to be active," said Raswiswi as he presented the memorandum of grievances.

"We are also having a problem of the elevators. They are being fixed every time, maybe you are hiring wrong people to fix them. Imagine a 65-year-old parent coming to visit their child and they must take stairs to the 15th floor. I believe you as the management of this place cannot take those steps to the 15th floor."

The students said they opted to take their grievances to The Park Lodge because the accommodation management had repeatedly refused to come and hear their complaints.

Some of the students were carrying banners written: "WiFi now" and "Better res [residence]".

The protesters vowed to return and ransack the hotel next week if their grievances were not addresses immediately.

 African News Agency (ANA)