Student is being urged to return to her room to clear in, to come back from home and pack up items in her fridge as South Point plans to power down its buildings.

Private Braamfontein student accommodation provider, South Point, is asking its student residents to go home after Wits University went into early recess on March 16, 2020.

“As your home would probably offer a less densely populated environment than a student residence, South Point strongly recommends that those students who are able to go home start making travel arrangements” said a statement released by the accommodation company on Tuesday, March 17.

The statement said, “Only key critical staff remain at our offices, with most employees working from home or on special leave. Accordingly, and with limited resources, we will need to power down our residences next week (which, in turn, will impact on the lifts, hot-water supply and WiFi)”.

In a second statement issued on Saturday, March 21, students were again urged to vacate their rooms.

“To avoid further infections, and to support Government efforts, it’s imperative that students to vacate their South Point rooms and return home, following guidelines from their respective institutions, as communicated earlier this week”, said South Point, adding that it was not terminating any of the leases.

The accommodation company said it would provide a scaled down service to students who were not able to go home.

“For those who are unable to go home for whatever reasons, please note we have put the following measures in place across our residential portfolio: … 1. Hand sanitiser dispensers (ordered last week) will be installed through all buildings nationally by Friday, 20 March 2020.”

Lindani Ngcamphalala*, a tenant of South Point Relyant said “they’re [South Point] saving costs and maximizing profit, they don’t want to lose, while they have students who have paid for the whole year”.

Wits Vuvuzela spoke to some South Point tenants who were particularly concerned about the loss of food they had bought in large quantities after the university shut down the dining halls.

“We won’t have money to replace the cold meat [meat in students fridges left when students went home] hence we bought in bulk to make sure it lasts us quite some time, so if they cut electricity what will be of our food. Also they won’t do anything when we suffer from the rotten smell of our food forgetting it’s their fault,” said Maya Jones*.

Another tenant, Vincent Tshepiya* said “On the issue of power outing the buildings it is stupid. … Students are charged on a monthly basis and with the forced evacuation nothing has been mentioned [by South Point] for days … This decision goes against the core values they claim they display which are care, reliability …”.

A tenant of South Point residence Blackburn who refused to be named raised concerns about not having a place to go to.

“I don’t tell people this but I have nowhere to go. I now need to find a room to rent eKasi [township] and by everything a room needs such as a bed, pots etc. Only for me to use them for like only a month,” said the tenant speaking for himself and his brother.

“International students who can’t make it home should urgently contact 060 018 9901 during office hours”, South Point in their last statement.

The Wits Student Representative council using their twitter account did not have a response to queries raised by Wits Vuvuzela but say,  “Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. We are looking into it [this matter] and will revert shortly.

Attempts to reach South Point for comment proved unsuccessful by the time of publishing.

Names have been changed*

FEATURED IMAGE: South Point student accommodation head office in Braamfontein. Photo: File.