Live Mag

About 50 UWC students with no accommodation have been squatting in res lounges

by: Onele Liwani - 3 March 2016

UWC housing ©oneleliwani girlsJust over a month after universities reopened, a group of about 30 young women and about 20 young men at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) say they still have nowhere to live. For the past few weeks, two of the on-campus residence lounges have been their home. Living in cramped conditions, some have taken ill, they have no proper bathrooms and the chances of the situation changing anytime soon seem small. These are their stories.

Siphokazi Gcayiya (22)

From the Eastern Cape

UWC Housing Crisis_Mar 2016_©oneleliwani-12

“I have been here for three weeks now, and since then the Central Housing Committee (CHC) has been making promises to get us placed but nothing has happened. The CHC placement officer threatened that if we put our names on any list that involves #FeesMustFall, he would personally make sure that we do not get placed. The #FeesMustFall members had come to supply food to us, but after a while, it stopped. Every time someone has come to address us, someone from the CHC is there with them. So we couldn’t be open or honest about what was really happening here.”

 

Nikky Mabuza (22)

From Mpumalanga

“I had hoped that they were going to accommodate me because I had applied for accommodation. But when I came here, I found out I was on the waiting list. The following day they said my name was not in the system. They then took my student number. They keep on coming here  to address us and give us hope and promises that we are going to get placed. It’s a terrible experience because we are living in this res lounge, sleeping on the floor, bathing in the toilets – we hang [our underwear] there in the toilet. We have no food. When I came here I only had R400, and I used it on food for the first few days, but I eventually ran out.”

 

Sandile Williams (21)

From the Eastern Cape

UWC Housing Crisis_Mar 2016_©oneleliwani-19

“I don’t know anyone in Cape Town. The university said I must look for private accommodation in Belhar, but every landlord wanted girls only. I asked the university to assist me, they haven’t. I have a kidney problem and I’m sleeping on the floor. You can imagine how that affects me. I’m gonna have to go to hospital this week to have it checked because it gets really painful in the mornings and in the evenings because I sleep on the bare floor. I come from a poor family and I’m on financial aid. I’m not eating as healthy as I should because here you eat what you get. I used all my money on takeaways because I don’t have a room to cook in, and financial aid won’t pay without proof of accommodation. I think the university just sweeps this problem under the carpet. The environment is not conducive for learning. I have so many assignments but I can’t focus because I’m either tired or hungry or something.”

UWC Housing ©oneleliwani

 

Asanda Nobebe (20)

From the Eastern Cape

“I’m diabetic. I fell sick because of the way I’m eating here. All I eat is bread, which is a starch and is high in glucose, and that’s not good for me. I’m supposed to eat steamed vegetables but they don’t have that. The storage of my medication is also a problem because it’s supposed to be kept in a fridge but we don’t even have a fridge here.”

 

We, at Live SA, spoke to Luthando Tyhalibhongo who is the Communications and Media Liaisons officer at UWC and asked him when the young people will be accommodated. His response was, “As far as I know they were supposed to have been moved last night. They shouldn’t be there right now.” He then promised to email a statement at 3pm, which he hadn’t sent by time of publishing.

All pictures: Onele Liwani

Do you have any resident issues on your campus you would like to share? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter or in the comments section below.