Accommodation shortage leaves students stranded outside UKZN

Students stranded outside the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) Pietermaritzburg campus, have been waiting for accommodation, some since February.

Scores of students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) have been left without a roof as an accommodation shortage at the university has arised.

Most students are not from Pietermaritzburg and do not have the funds to go home or find alternate accommodation.

According to the UKZN Student Representative Council (SRC), there is not enough accommodation available to accommodate the number of students accepted to study this year.

Alex Sibiya, who has been camping outside the campus since early February, said that he no longer has money for food and water.

“I am from Nquthu and I was accepted to study accounting. I have been waiting here since February. We just sleep outside here and wait in the day.

“We have run out of money for food and water. I’m waiting because I want to study further,” he said.

Nothando Mzobe (19), who has been sleeping outside the campus since Monday, said she is hopeful that she gets accommodation as they are continually being promised that they will be accommodated.

“I am from Jozini and I have been waiting here since Monday. I can’t afford to return home. We are waiting here because they keep promising us that we will be accommodated.

“What happens if we return home, and then we miss a place in residence? I did not think that this would be a problem as I was accepted to study here,” said Mzobe.

Second year student, Asanda Mthethwa said she had been sending continuous emails to check on her accomodation status, but did not receive any response. She does not have funds to return home.

“I have returned for my second year studying towards a Bachelor of Arts Degree. There was no problem last year. My parents in Durban, are concerned for my safety,” said Mthethwa.

Sthembele Xulu (19) said he cannot afford to return home if he does not get accommodation.

Xulu wants to create a better life for his ageing mother, who is a seamstress.

“My mother is elderly and sews clothes for a living. I cannot go back home, as we cannot afford it. I just want a better life for my mother and that is why I have chosen to study here.

“We are just getting by with the food that people are helping us with. We do not have extra money to go and buy from the shops. We hope that we get a place soon,” said Xulu.

SRC president Michael Zuma said the SRC has received reports of around 250 students that are left stranded.

“The problem we have is that the university has targeted a higher number of students to be accommodated, but due to the fact that there are residences that have been found to be inadequate to conduciveness, those residences have been shut.

“Adequate accommodation for all the residents was not provided for, which is why there is an imbalance.

“Students cannot study at home as there are network coverage issues and they prefer residences,” Zuma said.

He assured the students the SRC was trying its best to assist them.

“We are appealing to the university to find spaces in the current available accommodation,” said Zuma.

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