WSU residences a disgrace

05 July 2017 - 06:00 By Aretha Linden
Students walk through flooded corridors at the KGB residence on the Walter Sisulu University's Mthatha campus
Students walk through flooded corridors at the KGB residence on the Walter Sisulu University's Mthatha campus

Broken showers, blocked toilets and a lack of study areas are just some of the hardships faced by Walter Sisulu University students living at privately owned residences in East London.

So bad are conditions at the residences students living there recently staged a protest.

The Student Representative Council claimed the university provided residences that did not meet higher education specifications.

University spokesman Yonela Tukwayo said the institution had spent R145-million a year to accommodate 5876 students at privately owned residences across all four campuses and admitted that some residences were in an unsatisfactory condition.

"The reality is that universities in small cities and rural towns are not spoilt for choice and often take the little accommodation that is available," Tukwayo said.

Following student protests in May, the Daily Dispatch newspaper visited two of the residences the students had complained about - Clark House and a house at 67 St James Road in Southernwood.

Clark House was once an office block which was converted into student residences.

No 67 St James Road is a house partitioned into rooms to accommodate students.

The Clark House building has four floors and accommodates 130 male students. The derelict conditions include broken windows and no kitchen area on one of the floors. This has driven students to wash dishes in the bathroom basin.

Each floor has one bathroom and toilet and two showers that are not working.

The showers were blocked with filthy, stinking, murky water and according to students they had been like that for almost two months.

There is no study area at all.

Students said when they want to study they have to walk to the nearest campus at College Street at the risk of getting mugged.

The housing committee secretary at Clark House, Lusindiso Mbayana, said the students had agreed that if the buildings were not fixed they would not return there in the second semester.

"The university, together with the owner, has promised to fix the building during the mid-year holiday. If the situation remains the same when we return, we will leave and the university will have to find alternative accommodation for us," Mbayana said.

At 67 St James Road there are five rooms, which house 10 students. There students mostly complained of the lack of privacy, especially in the bathroom. The house is partitioned off with plywood boards.

The small bathroom has two showers and a freestanding toilet.

"If someone takes a shower you cannot use the toilet, and if someone is on the toilet you cannot shower, unless you do not mind the smell," one student said.

Clark House confirmed with the residence officer that work was in progress to resolve complaints.

"No further complaints have been received and the last communication we received was that they were happy with the progress made," Tukwayo said.