UJ dumps South Point

By Phumi Ramalepe

NSFAS students sign petition for university to reconsider decision.

The University of Johannesburg has rejected South Point’s 2019 accreditation application after the property company failed to fulfil certain requirements by the university’s policy on privately-owned accommodation.

The policy stipulates that, “Rooms should be furnished with lockable closets, single bed steel or wooden frames including mattress/sponge, study desk, chair, bookshelf, study lamp, panel heater and paper bin.”

The policy further states that the kitchen of each ‘Subscribing Service Provider’ should have “a minimum provision of cold storage, 210 litres per five students”.

After the 2019 inspection, the two Braamfontein South Point buildings (Norvic and KSI) previously accredited by U J since 2004 were deemed not to meet the requirements due to the absence of panel heaters and fridges.   

Executive Head of Precinct Development at South Point, Josef Talotta, told Wits Vuvuzela that, “In 2011, [UJ] gazetted new norms and standard criteria (introducing communal refrigerators and panel heaters) for its accreditation partners…we were not accredited for 2019, in spite of previous approvals against the same criteria.”

Last year, South Point “housed approximately 450 students as a UJ-accredited housing provider”, according to Talotta.

Some of those students circulated a petition last week to have UJ reconsider its decision not to accredit South Point. By January 31, the petition had garnered 90 signatures.   

Mpho Stephen, a third-year LLB student who has been staying at South Point for two years said, “I helped distribute the petition because we want a place to stay. We are also trying to tell [UJ] our story. Everybody has a right to be heard,” said Stephen.

UJ students who are funded by NSFAS say they are dismayed by UJ’s decision as they did not have to pay for top-ups and a deposit at South Point before signing their leases.

“I went to J1 (a private accommodation property in Braamfontein) and there is space but…now I have to pay R3 750 for deposit. Imagine the strain I have to put on my parents. I wouldn’t have to pay for deposit at South Point while on NSFAS,” said Mpho Khosa, a third-year Film and Television student at UJ.

South Point is appealing UJ’s decision, according to Talotta.

Third Suicide of First Semester

A Wits student killed himself in his residence room last week Tuesday, apparently due to academic pressure.

Wandile Mashinini, 2nd year BComm marketing, was  found in his room at South Point’s KSI residence. According to a friend, who asked not to be named, his girlfriend became worried when he didn’t respond to her knocking.  She and the building manager then broke through the door and found he had hanged himself .  It is believed that he left a note.

The friend said his Facebook updates had shown he was suicidal. “He said: ‘I will kill myself and die’ and ‘I’m tired of all of this and am sorry to my family’. We thought he was joking.”

She said Mashinini had been struggling academically and reportedly had not met the requirements for two of his courses.

Psychologist Prof Lourens Schlebusch said academic problems were one of the leading causes of suicide among students.

“Family problems, academic-related problems, stress and psychological disorders are some of the reasons young adults commit suicide.”

Another Wits student, Magashnee Stephanie Moonsamy, shot herself in May this year, apparently also due to academic pressure.

Janeske Botes, Moonsamy’s Media studies lecturer, said she did not pass two of her major essays in her second year and was not registered for third year Media Studies.

Schlebusch said: “Individuals contemplating suicide often don’t seek help and appear to be fine.

There were a number of warning signs, which should be taken note of, he said. People with suicidal feelings often showed sad or anxious behaviour, a drop in academic performance as well as changes in eating habits.

Friends described Mashinini  as being full of life, funny and loving. “We have lost a significant part of ourselves. He will be missed,” said his friend.

Wandile will be laid to rest this weekend in his home town of Barbaton, Mpumalanga.

Schlebusch urged students to seek help if they were struggling or considering suicide. At Wits, the Career Counselling and Development Unit (CCDU) offers counselling services to students.

The CCDU is offering a full-day workshop to Wits academic and support staff on July 20 to equip them to identify students in need of psychological or psychiatric intervention.

Published in Vuvuzela 16th Edition 20 July 2012