Students seek accommodation in the city. 

A group of 30 people attempted to occupy the low-income residence, 27 Hoek Street in Braamfontein on Wednesday, February 6, demanding that the building be opened up to accommodate homeless students.

The group consisting of students from Wits, University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the Central Johannesburg College spent most of the night on the pavement as their attempts to occupy the building were thwarted by the South African Police Services and Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD).

The building which has 200 units is owned by the Johannesburg Social Housing Company (Joshco) which belongs to the City of Johannesburg.

Ward 60 councillor, Nokuthula Xaba, who was outside the building till the early hours of Thursday morning, told Wits Vuvuzela that she had received a call from Wits students asking for assistance as they had no accommodation or food.

She said that on Monday, January, 20, she had asked Joshco “to release a building to accommodate students. There was another property that was finished and I asked that [Adam] Habib be called to assist in accommodating the students. I’m surprised that students are still asking me for assistance as this is a matter of urgency,” Xaba said.

Wits Economic Freedom Fighters school council residence officer, Rainbow Sabe, told Wits Vuvuzela that the attempted occupation of 27 Hoek happened after the ‘Accommodation is Land’ march on September 27, 2018.

“We, students from Wits and UJ, marched to Herman [Mashaba’s] office. We also delivered a memo to Habib, South Point and Herman demanding accommodation, and that prices of accommodation not increase.”

Sabe said that as a result of the march three buildings in Bramfontein were identified as potential student accommodation and one of these was 27 Hoek Street.

“We are not going to wait to be told that we can use the building,” Sabe said.

Acting CEO of Joshco Christopher Dyani who addressed the small crowd, offered them “temporary transitional accommodation” for the night in Berea.

“As Joshco, we do not have a mandate for student accommodation. Councillor Xaba brought the matter to us and we have identified buildings to take to the city. This building behind us is not earmarked for student accommodation,” Dyani said.

Dyani said that a meeting between Joshco and the relevant tertiary institutions would take place on Thursday, February 7 to discuss a solution to the students need for accommodation.

The students refused to move from the building to the accommodation in Berea saying that the area is unsafe and not conducive for living.


FEATURED IMAGE: Ward councillor Nokuthula Xaba addresses students trying to occupy a city building.                                                                                              Photo: Onke Ngcuka