South Point has temporarily suspended moving students between buildings after talks with Wits student leaders.
South Point has released a newsflash to its tenants saying it has temporarily suspended forced removal of students to its other buildings from May 18, after communications with various Wits student representatives.
The housing residence said it is calling on all students who have not terminated their lease and had not yet signed new agreements to move elsewhere at the time the decision was made, to “stay in their current building for now”.
As Wits Vuvuzela reported on May 15, some students were unhappy that South Point was moving them from a women-only residence to a mixed one. “In emails sent on May 12, South Point told residents the move to the building less than 300 metres away was necessary ‘to consolidate our partially full residences so as to streamline our operations’,” the article said.
Mpendulo Mfeka, Wits SRC president, told Wits Vuvuzela they believed students should be allowed to make a decision in their best interest. “Our position is that students should be given an option to agree or disagree with moving.
“If students do not want to move, they should not move. If the students want to move, they should be able to move to the building of their choice,” he said.
The SRC president said they are going to ensure that South Point adheres to the changes in the agreements made with students, and will advocate against any conditions that disadvantage students.
Mfeka told Wits Vuvuzela the SRC stands against moving students from a residence where the electricity bill was included in the monthly rent, to another where electricity is prepaid. “Students would rather be left in the same building they agreed to stay [at].”
According to the Wits Vuvuzela report, “The primary difference between the two residences is that 56 Jorissen utilises prepaid electricity, whereas at 90 De Korte electricity was included in the fixed monthly rent. ‘South Point said they will give us vouchers of R450, which will cover [electricity usage for] the whole month‘,’’ a student said.
Third–year BSc urban and regional planning Wits student Dimpho Kgwete, who stays at 56 Jorissen (one of the residences students are being moved to), told Wits Vuvuzela South Point arranging for students to pay less than what other students are already paying at the residence is “unfair”.
Kgwete proposed, “The money we have been paying extra [since March] has to be refunded to us and, going forward, [South Point management] have to reduce our fees.”
Andisiwe Shasha, a second–year BA general student at UJ residing at Norvic (South Point residence), described having to move to another residence as “unfair and disrespectful”. She told Wits Vuvuzela UJ’s NSFAS does not recognise South Point buildings other than Norvic and KSI (a South Point residence students are being moved to).
“I chose Norvic for a reason. KSI is not safe; there are hobos there and I am afraid of being mugged,” Shasha said. “[South Point management] do not care about our mental health. We are about to write exams, but their concern is about us moving to another building.”
Wits EFFSC secretary Phumzile Mathibela urged South Point to put a hold on moving students around until the end of the academic year. “If South Point feels the need to make changes on the lease agreement, proper procedure should follow,” she said, and added, “We want to assure students that we will always be with them and by their side. If it means we should go the legal route to win the battle, we are more than ready and willing to do so.”
South Point declined to speak with Wits Vuvuzela although an email was sent, calls were made and after an in-person interaction.
The suspension of moving between buildings is only “until the parties meet again next week to consult further on the concerns raised by students”, the South Point statement said.
FEATURED IMAGE: Students gathered at South Point Central on May 17. Photo: Twitter
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