Student leaders lend a helping hand to students who are still without housing.

The Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) has secured R2 million to help students who are still without a roof over their heads halfway into the 2022 academic year.

According to the dean of students, Jerome September, there are around 109 students who are still on the waiting list to get accommodation from the institution. The situation is dire for some of these students, with some squatting in computer labs, libraries and toilets on campus.

A student sleeping in a computer lab. Photo: Mpho Hlakudi

In a statement released by the SRC president, Cebolenkosi Khumalo, in mid-May, he said the money raised will go to the Wits Citizenship and Community Outreach (WCCO), which has been assisting students with accommodation, registration, food, data and other necessities through the Hardship Accommodation programme.

“We are raising funds via the #PavingtheNext100 campaign with civil society organisations, public donations, Wits Alumnus and South African businesses,” said Khumalo on how the funds were raised.

With this recent funding, 91 rooms will be secured with the help of the WCCO, and students who are homeless will be prioritised. September also added that the university along with WCCO has also managed to secure their own funding to assist students in need.

As of May, the institution raised R17,5 million towards supporting students. With this money, a total of 485 bed were funded and offered to students. Four hundered and one by Wits, 50 by the SRC,16 by the Beit Trust (a United Kingdom trust fund for international students from Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi) and 18by private institutions.

“Resources are limited, unfortunately, we cannot assist all students seeking assistance,” added September.

He emphasised that in the heart of this crisis, is the issue of affordability. There are not enough beds offered by the institution, and on-campus residences, which are often expensive, fill up quickly.

FEATURED IMAGE: Students at a South Point building lobby. Photo: Mpho Hlakudi