UJ dumps South Point

By Phumi Ramalepe

NSFAS students sign petition for university to reconsider decision.

The University of Johannesburg has rejected South Point’s 2019 accreditation application after the property company failed to fulfil certain requirements by the university’s policy on privately-owned accommodation.

The policy stipulates that, “Rooms should be furnished with lockable closets, single bed steel or wooden frames including mattress/sponge, study desk, chair, bookshelf, study lamp, panel heater and paper bin.”

The policy further states that the kitchen of each ‘Subscribing Service Provider’ should have “a minimum provision of cold storage, 210 litres per five students”.

After the 2019 inspection, the two Braamfontein South Point buildings (Norvic and KSI) previously accredited by U J since 2004 were deemed not to meet the requirements due to the absence of panel heaters and fridges.   

Executive Head of Precinct Development at South Point, Josef Talotta, told Wits Vuvuzela that, “In 2011, [UJ] gazetted new norms and standard criteria (introducing communal refrigerators and panel heaters) for its accreditation partners…we were not accredited for 2019, in spite of previous approvals against the same criteria.”

Last year, South Point “housed approximately 450 students as a UJ-accredited housing provider”, according to Talotta.

Some of those students circulated a petition last week to have UJ reconsider its decision not to accredit South Point. By January 31, the petition had garnered 90 signatures.   

Mpho Stephen, a third-year LLB student who has been staying at South Point for two years said, “I helped distribute the petition because we want a place to stay. We are also trying to tell [UJ] our story. Everybody has a right to be heard,” said Stephen.

UJ students who are funded by NSFAS say they are dismayed by UJ’s decision as they did not have to pay for top-ups and a deposit at South Point before signing their leases.

“I went to J1 (a private accommodation property in Braamfontein) and there is space but…now I have to pay R3 750 for deposit. Imagine the strain I have to put on my parents. I wouldn’t have to pay for deposit at South Point while on NSFAS,” said Mpho Khosa, a third-year Film and Television student at UJ.

South Point is appealing UJ’s decision, according to Talotta.


Thumbs down for system to register for res at Wits

By Naledi Mashishi and Onke Ngcuka

First years and parents forced to bake in the sun in long lines as a result of new centralised residence registration system.

WITS’s new centralised residence registration system that was supposed to be “more convenient” has had the opposite effect as first-year residence students and their parents were left distraught after queuing for hours in the sun on Saturday, January 26.

The system, implemented on the day, placed services from the Fees, Financial Aid and Information and Communications Technology offices under one roof, at Flower Hall, West Campus.

The centralised system was also meant to ensure the verification process and the residence registration took place in the same building.

Wits University communications officer Buhle Zuma told Wits Vuvuzela that, “The new registration system sought to ease the challenges encountered by first year res students when registering. Previously, first year students would have to visit various service units to complete their registration. This was frustrating for students unfamiliar with the university.”

All packed and nowhere to go: The line for registration extended from the Flower Hall towards the Wits Science stadium.
Photo: Onke Ngcuka

A parent, Sithabile Ntombela from Durban, who had waited in line from 12pm until after 4pm told Wits Vuvuzela that she had expected to wait a maximum of an hour.

“If this was [University of] Zululand, Fort Hare or Walter Sisulu University, I would expect this, but not Wits. The other universities are previously disadvantaged. Wits has developed technology, so I wouldn’t expect this from Wits. There was no visibility from the assistants. There are assistants but very few, so you end up in the wrong queue,” Ntombela said.

Zuma said that 28 staff members from Campus Housing and 18 from other service units, as well as 35 assistants were helping with the registration, and Wits Protection Services was also present.

However, there were few visible assistants outside Flower Hall in the morning, and in the afternoon there appeared to be no more than 10 that were ushering parents and students into the different lines.

Medhurst Residence House Committee member, Nobuhle Nkosi, told Wits Vuvuzela that the All Residence Council and Residence House Committees were not consulted in the decision-making process, and that both committees opposed the new centralised system at the Residence Leadership Camp held on January 21-25 where they first heard of it.

“The new system doesn’t take into account the students…It disadvantages the students that come from far by buses and taxis as they usually leave their bags at res but now they have to stand in long lines with their bags,” Nkosi said. “It’s already crowded when people register at their reses, now imagine all those people under one roof.”

Nkosi added that the Medhurst House Committee was expecting to welcome 80 – 90 students on Saturday but only 20 had arrived by 3pm.

“People were hungry when they got here, people were crying and parents were complaining,” Nkosi said.

Hot and bothered: Students and parents bake in the sun as they queue to register.
Photo: Onke Ngcuka

Zuma said that the registration process didn’t close at 4pm as advertised, but had been extended to 6:45pm.

“Our challenge on the day was the number of students who did not apply for residence and those whose application was still pending and thus contributing to long queues,” Zuma said.

At 9.41pm on Saturday, the university tweeted an apology from its official account.

“Wits University and the Dean of Student Affairs apologises to all parents and students for the inconvenience caused by the new res system for first year students. We acknowledge the delays and the long queues and we will review the process going forward,” the tweet said.

According to Zuma, the university is doing a full review of the registration process and will consider suggestions from the Wits community.

FEATURED IMAGE: Students and their parents waited for long hours to be registered for their residence in the new centralised registration system. Photo: Onke Ngcuka