University Corner lift woes to continue

It will be 5 more months before the new lift in University Corner is operational. Photo: Andries Sibanyoni.

It will be 5 more months before the new lift in University Corner is operational. Photo: Andries Sibanyoni.

The problem of faulty and sometimes dysfunctional elevators at the Wits University Corner Building is far from over. Staff, students and tenants will continue to experience the inconvenience of dysfunctional lifts for at least another year.

According to Dirk Vanden Eynde, Project Manager at Wits Campus Development and Planning, work to install new lifts began in the middle of last month. The installation of the first lift which is already decommissioned is expected to take about 5 months to complete. Work on the second lift will start after the new one  is operational.

The project has been structured to ensure that all work takes place inside the existing lift shafts and that there are no disturbances to the daily operation of the building and staff.

Marcus Toerien, a Masters student at Wits Journalism and a regular user of these lifts complained that he has been coming into the building for the past four years and the situation has not improved.

“More often than not we become frustrated and we have to walk up the stairs …we do not get clear time lines as to when things will be normalised as there is no open communication between those responsible for this building and the people who use the building,” says Toerien. He emphasised that there are people who have to walk up and down the University Corner building (a 20 floor building) and it is difficult for them.

Another student, Mbongeni Mbingo explained that his experience with the lift situation has been frightening as the buttons on lifts are simply not working properly. “My experience has not been good and it’s sort of frightening when you are in there alone and the lift cannot stop at a selected floor,” says Mbingo. But, he added jokingly that the stairs on the other hand are good for fitness, but felt sorry for people going to the 20th floor using the stairs.

Meeting Patrick Ndlovu

Patrick Ndlovu has worked on Jorissen Street for the past ten years. Photo: Dean Falcke

Patrick Ndlovu has worked on Jorissen Street for the past ten years. Photo: Dean Falcke

The most famous car guard on the corner of Jorissen and Bertha Streets in Braamfontein, no longer wants to be on that beat any longer. 48 year old Patrick Ndlovu has endured all weather conditions from the incredibly cold to the scotching hot for the last 10 years.

Despite his commitment to this ‘job’ for a decade, Ndlovu has little to show for it apart from his face full of sorrow and troubles.

The divorced father of two teenagers based in Cape Town, says ‘’the initial hope of making a better life in Johannesburg has faded right in front of me”.

Ndlovu says that on a good day, especially towards the end of the month, he makes about R200-R250 a day as most people give him about R5 per car. On a normal day he makes between R75–R100  as motorists give him an average of  R1-R2.  His life and that of his family depends entirely on the moods and generosity of the motorists who visit the University of the Witwatersrand and buildings around the campus. [pullquote]If he could raise enough money, he would catch the first bus home.[/pullquote]

Ndlovu spends his income on R500 rent he pays to live in a flat he shares with other people in the Johannesburg CBD. The rest he spends on food. Ndlovu says; ‘’I buy cooked meals every day because I cannot afford to buy monthly groceries.”  He says the other reason he will not risk buying groceries is that he is afraid his flatmates would steal it.

Ndlovu says most motorists respect him for the service he offers because he makes sure that their cars and portable possessions like phones and laptops are always safe. He claims that despite the help of the police cameras erected all over Braamfontein, he also fights with trouble-makers at his post.  However, he says there are motorists who -treat badly him by yelling insults at him for no reason and leav without paying.

Patrick’s work is also acknowledged and appreciated by other security officers in the vicinity. Lesley Mathonsi, a security officer contracted by the University of the Witwatersrand, says; “Patrick is doing a good job as university’s clients hardly complain about him.”  Mathonsi says Ndlovu is reliable and trustworthy because he is always there from 8am to 5pm.

Ndlovu says if he could raise enough money, he would catch the first bus home. He says; ‘’I have been suffering for more than 10 years in the streets of Jo’burg’’.

Patrick came to Johannesburg in 2000 after a divorce from his wife in Mount Frere in the Eastern Cape.  Later in the same year, he was contracted with by City Parks as a general worker. After few months of working there,  he and his colleagues embarked on an illegal strike. They were all found guilty and dismissed during the disciplinary hearings.

With no luck of finding another job, he started guarding cars on the streets of Braamfontein in  2002.