Cape Town - Hundreds of aggrieved Stellenbosch University students yesterday occupied the university’s administration block, to protest their lack of housing before the start of the academic year.
One of those who blocked the building, EFF Student Command International Affairs spokesperson Bongani Zitha, said: “We have hundreds of students who couldn’t get accommodation, last night we had to sleep at the Neelsie (student centre) as we couldn’t find accommodation for them.”
On Friday morning students resolved to take matters into their own hands, shutting down the university’s administration building.
Soon enough, the university sought to resolve the impasse, promising the protesters it had found emergency accommodation near Bellville.
“The feedback was that they found a place with 300 beds available. We still have not had confirmation. They promised temporary accommodation for the weekend,” said Zitha.
Those who still do not have accommodation will be moved, according to Zitha, on Monday, to hastily arranged accommodation in Bellville.
“Universities have accommodation issues, but at Stellenbosch University it’s more acute. Private accommodation is expensive, including on campus, which excludes many students.
“There’s still the issue of the deposit which starts from R2 000, sometimes they require two months’ upfront payment. There’s no way students on NSFAS can pay that. It seems the university has closed its eyes and hearts.”
University spokesperson Martin Viljoen confirmed that the issue surrounding yesterday’s protest had been resolved – for now.
“The accommodation will however not be available this weekend already. SU staff are now securing extra emergency accommodation on campus for the weekend.
“Over the last two weeks, the university, in collaboration with the SRC, managed temporary accommodation where possible with students being placed when accommodation became available elsewhere.
“Since Wednesday, places in temporary (emergency) accommodation were however also full.”
Viljoen said all new applicants to the university were informed of the outcome of their application to residence in the application year (2023).
“Residences are placed at full capacity at the end of the application or previous academic year.