Students at Wits Junction Residence held a demonstration this week in protest against the Lions Rugby team using the accommodation at their residence.

Tanisha Heiberg

Students protesting at Wits Junction on Thursday night before they held a closed meeting to decide on the issue of the Lions rugby team staying at their residence in the wake of a accommodation crisis. Photo: Tanisha Heiberg

Students protesting at Wits Junction on Thursday night before they held a closed meeting to decide on the issue of the Lions rugby team staying at their residence in the wake of a accommodation crisis. Photo: Tanisha Heiberg

ABOUT 50 students demonstrated at Wits Junction residence on Wednesday evening in protest of 50 rooms in the residence being given to the Lions Rugby team despite an accommodation shortage on campus.

The demonstration took place outside the student centre before the residence’s closed house meeting where they were set to discuss what actions should be taken.

“Our problem is there’s an accommodation crisis, students are sleeping in libraries … We don’t see any justification for the Lions to stay here,” said Wits Junction House Committee chairperson Nkululeko Tselane.

Tselane explained that 50 rooms were given to the Lions Rugby team whilst many students are turned away from the residence because it is full. “15 people were rejected in one day last week,” said Tselane.

He explained that the Lions Rugby team have other places that they can stay but the students do not. “Many bursaries will only pay for a Wits residence and not private accommodation … These students don’t have anywhere to go,” Tselane said.

The Lions rugby team had struck a deal with the university to house team members at Junction in exchange for inflated rent and providing the university with five bursaries. The Lions also promised to equip a gym at the residence at a later stage, according to the All Residence Council (ARC). Some of the Lions team members are also Wits students but the ARC said the non-students should not be staying in the residence.

“Some are Wits students. Most are not but all are registered for some academic course somewhere. Given the fact that residence[s] are at capacity and there [are] student[s] sleeping in libraries, we believe that those spaces should go to students,” said the ARC in a Facebook post.

An inquiry has also been put in place after complaints of altercations between Junction students and Lions rugby members have surfaced. “The main reason we are upset is because it’s not the first time,”said Tselane

He said that Wits Junction management is aware of the situation. “We spoke to management who made it clear that we have no jurisdiction to speak to the Lions,” said Tselane.

The Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) said in a statement that along with the ARC they are working towards find a solution to the accommodation crisis. “The SRC and ARC commits itself to finding a solution so no bright minds have to spend another night sleeping in libraries,” said the SRC. They also acknowledged that a long term solution is needed to solve the accommodation crisis as well as urged students to see the dean of students if they have any problems.

At time on publication the Wits Junction Management could not be reached for comment