Pretoria - Hundreds of protesting students, calling themselves the Occupy Movement, marched to the offices of property administration group City Property, complaining about exorbitant rental fees in Pretoria.
“We have now arrived at City Property – the most ruthless and brutal institution. This company has been targeting and exploiting poor students. It has been thriving over frustration of poor students,” said protest leader Jonas Mokgethi.
“You have been increasing your rates and we have been watching you. If you do not take what we are doing now seriously, then regard it as a dress rehearsal – the actual wedding is coming. The mother of all protests will be organised.”
The students marched to City Property, along Du Toit Street, escorted by numerous police vehicles. They accused the private company of hiking rental fees beyond the reach of students.
“You are keeping empty rooms because we cannot afford. When you see new colleges opening around town, you say to yourselves ‘what an opportunity’. You are betraying humanity. You are ruthless. You are brutal,” said Mokgethi to loud cheers.
Senior City Property officials were at the main entrance, waiting to receive the students’ memorandum of demands.
“Our people are being evicted from flats in this city, because City Property wants to buy those buildings. Keep on colluding with the people you are colluding with, but the time shall come when you shall be working at your own risk.
Numerous City Property employees peeped from the first floor office while the students addressed the senior management.
“Should we hear from a single tenant that City Property has increased its rents, I don’t know. You have to start searching for other jobs, not here.”
In the memorandum of demands, the students said the company must immediately reduce accommodation fees for all “students and the poor”.
“If you address this one, then we will be very happy. We also demand immediate renovation for all deteriorating flats. On your website you have beautiful buildings, and ll things that students hope for but when they walk into your flats, they meet hell,” Mokgethi said.
“We demand an improvement on all your services (including) security and cleaning. We demand student support services in your flats like WiFi and study centres. You must also contribute towards free education. You have been making a lot of money.”
City Property managing director Jeffrey Wapnick said the issues raised would be considered
“We met with two representatives following receipt of the memorandum. We are appreciative of the fact that it was a peaceful march,” Wapnick later told reporters.
“We are committed to continued engagement in an open forum with the view to discuss, debate, understand and to fully address the issues raised.”
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