Students at TUT gather at the entrance to the main campus to demand payment of money for accommodation off campus. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/ African News Agency (ANA)
Students at TUT gather at the entrance to the main campus to demand payment of money for accommodation off campus. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/ African News Agency (ANA)

Protest over money for TUT student accommodation spreads

By Liam Ngobeni Time of article published Sep 17, 2020

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THE protest by students over unpaid accommodation allowances at the Tshwane University of Technology has spread to the university’s main campus in Pretoria West.

The protests started on Monday at the Soshanguve campus and yesterday students gathered at the main campus in Pretoria West.

Thabiso Motaung, a student, said some students had not paid rent for five months. They were now in limbo and did not have anywhere to stay so they could continue with their studies.

“We hope they (university management) can resolve this so we can finish the academic year; we have lost so much time already,” he said.

“How can one study efficiently while stressing about accommodation which has not been paid, and while being threatened with eviction?”

Student leader Banele Ntsele said many students had not received any allowance even though the money belonged to them, and was being withheld.

“It is killing the business on the part of people operating the communes, which have assisted students all along. Now the community is shunted and left out in these decisions,” he said.

He said students at TUT were under immense pressure and stress which could affect their academic performance. “We are already behind because of the lockdown.

“Such (accommodation) issues have just made things worse. We are coming from lockdown and cannot focus on saving the year when stressed about all of these issues,” he said.

TUT spokesperson Willa de Ruyter stressed that it was widely communicated to students and the community at large that university-owned, leased and accredited residences should be occupied before private accommodation would be considered for allowances.

Pretoria West Residential Students Association chairperson Ray Thobejane said they had held multiple meetings with university management.

“We have been housing students for the past two decades and recently they came up with a move to do student accreditations and assign certain buildings to house students.

“In that process they are removing students from our communes and taking them to these new places which are not even near the institution. The students are not happy with that.

“We came to protest as we gave a letter of demand on August 7. This is us wanting to get their attention so we can find a way forward. They are accrediting other buildings and they are removing students from our communes to their own buildings.”

Thopejane said it affected the community … the ripple effect was that communes and backroom business in the local community would collapse.

“It’s a bit unfair because you cannot force them to stay where you want them to stay; they (the students) should be able to decide where they want to say.”

He said five months had passed but students had not been given any funds to pay their landlords. “We are pleading that they release the funds,” said Thobejane.

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