Home News Evicted SPU students camp outside varsity

Evicted SPU students camp outside varsity

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Sol Plaatje University (SPU) students were left stranded this week after they were evicted from their residences due to the non-payment of rent.

SPU students were left stranded due to the non-payment of rent. Picture Soraya Crowie

SEVERAL Sol Plaatje University (SPU) students were left stranded this week following their eviction from their residences due to the non-payment of rent.

On Wednesday, students tried to camp outside the Moroko Hall at the main campus, as well as the Luka Jantjie House, with their suitcases and blankets.

“We have nowhere to go and were threatened that they would call the police to remove us even though we have been sitting here peacefully,” said one of the students who spoke to the DFA.

“We are supposed to be funded by the Thusa Moithuti fund but they have not paid the rent and now we are on the streets. The landlord kept some of our belongings because of the debt. We were told that we are personally responsible for the payment of the rent, which we cannot afford.”

SPU students tried to camp outside the Lukas Jantjie campus on Wednesday. Picture Soraya Crowie

The students stated that they had requested SPU management to assist with the remaining payments or accommodate them in vacant rooms on campus.

“Nothing has been resolved. We are a mixture of first, second and third year students and we are worried as exams are coming up.”

According to the landlord that is providing accommodation to 167 students at the old Boland college in Phakamile Mabija road, as well as student residences in South Circular road and in Homestead, rent was only paid for 38 students.

“I am owed in the region of R2 million in rental fees. Up until now I have been assisting students with accommodation, food and toiletries but it is impossible to operate without an income. Many students come from far away,” the landlord told the DFA.

Acting director of institutional advancement in the office of the vice-chancellor at SPU Kashini Maistry said the university did not intervene in the relationship between the landlord and a tenant.

“The funding status and number of evicted students of the protesting students has not been verified,” Maistry said.

“A group of 49 students were provided with accommodation for three months, through the student representative council’s (SRC) Thuso Moithuti Fund, after which they had to make their own arrangements. The same applies to other students who are not part of this group.”

Maistry added that none of the affected students appeared to be funded by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

Students protested after they were evicted from their residences. Picture Soraya Crowie

Maistry explained that the Thusa Moithuti Fund was a fund created by the student representative council (SRC) to assist unfunded or financially excluded students to register for their studies.

“The SRC, through the Thusa Moithuti Fund, undertook to provide accommodation for 49 students, who met the criteria for support, at a selected off-campus residence in the city for the first three months of the academic year. This obligation has been fulfilled.

“Any additional students who were accommodated in that off-campus residence did not apply for funding and were housed by the landlord.”

She indicated that the SRC was engaging with the landlord, and added that scheduled semester tests were disrupted by protests on Wednesday morning.

“The university will not allow the examinations to be affected,” Maistry said.

She stated that it was the students’ responsibility to ensure that they met the criteria and applied within the stipulated time frames for funding.

“Funders strive to meet their obligations as stipulated in the contracts with the students.”

SPU students said they have nowhere to go. Picture Soraya Crowie

The SRC indicated that they were urgently finding ways to assist off-campus students who were evicted from Eternal City.

“Since the accommodation provider was clear in removing our students, the SRC then agreed on finding an alternative accommodation for those students.

“Upon finding the alternative accommodation, the students themselves then took a collective decision that they will sleep in the library, rejecting the accommodation that the SRC wanted to provide for them.”

It blamed SPU management for “turning a blind eye” to the plight of struggling students who were desperate to access academic services as well as “micromanaging” how the fund should be utilised.

“They are not even assisting the SRC with fund-raising initiatives.”

The SRC said it had decided that the funds that they managed to raise for the Thusa Moithuti Fund, would be used to settle the current debt of unfunded beneficiaries.

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