William Cullen and Wartenweiler flooded overnight


FLOOD: Water damage caused part of the ceiling at Wartenweiler library to collapse. Flooding from open taps has closed Wartenweiler William Cullen library. Photo: Provided

FLOOD: Water damage caused part of the ceiling at Wartenweiler library to collapse. Flooding from open taps has closed Wartenweiler and William Cullen library.                                                        Photo: Provided

The Willam Cullen and Wartenweiler libraries were flooded overnight after bathroom taps were left open during the water outage yesterday.

Michele Pickover, the principle curator for the historical papers research archives, said that the staff arrived this morning to flooding on the third basement of the William Cullen library where the archives are kept. Not all the archives were affected but the extensive collection of press cuttings used by researchers was damaged by water.

The collection covers the periods from 1940 to 2000 and captures a lot of the South African history. They have been removed from the original holding area to be dried.

“In the event that they are too badly damaged we will have to try digitise them to make them useful still for researchers,” said Pickover. The Rivonia Trial documents, court papers from the trial of former president Nelson Mandela and others, are safe as they are kept in a separate location.

According to Pickover, the university will be providing dehumidifiers to help lessen the dampness and humidity in the basement. In the long run though the department is looking to move to a new building that will house the archives as the current one is not ideal.

William Cullen library was closed today on the advisement of Property and Infrastructure Management Division as they wanted to inspect the danger of water and electricity to the computers and equipment in the building.

Wartenweiler library was partly closed today. It had two of its floors affected by the flood and kept these blockaded as a safety precaution for the students. They are still in the process of assessing the extent of the damage said Paiki Muswazi, the deputy university librarian.

Both libraries will be open tomorrow.



The hours of darkness spent in study areas

Sleeping students in the 24-hour section of Wartenweiler library at about 4am

Sleeping students in the 24-hour section of Wartenweiler library at about 4am

While the university administration defends its right to renovate its Savernake residence, for millions of rands, students continue sleeping in the libraries as winter rapidly approaches.

The ongoing problem of students sleeping in libraries has not been resolved yet even though the news has recently been in the mainstream media.

Meanwhile the students are playing musical chairs ducking and diving from security.

When Wits Vuvuzela camped out in Wartenweiler library last week till 9pm to see if students can hide out in the library, we found that students can dodge security and sleep under desks and in toilets till the next morning. A security guard, who chose to be anonymous, verified this.

The Wartenweiler library closes at 9pm and only the 24-hour section is open.

Prof Tawana Kupe, Deputy Vice Chancellor for finance and operations said students could not sleep or stay in the library after it has closed because the library is fully alarmed. Kupe said he had not received any reports of wrongdoing in the library.

President of the SRC, Sibulele Mgudlwa, said he had seen students sleeping in Wartenweiler, Commerce, Law and Management (CLM) 24-hour section, CLM FNB, Wits Science Stadium and at CNS. Mgudlwa said, “Everyone is aware of this problem and no one is willing to assist in resolving it”.

SRC seeks to identify people sleeping in libraries and direct them to the assistant Dean of CLM, Pam Townsend and the University Registrar or the Dean of Students, Prem Coopoo.

The SRC said it did not have funds to help students with accommodation.

A 2nd year LLB, Craig Gumbo who has witnessed sleeping students in libraries said, “A white student used to sleep in the printing room every night. He used the same clothes and carried washing powder with him”.

In a media briefing held to address the issue of Savernake, contrasted to the problem of homeless students, among other issues, Adam Habib, incoming Vice Chancellor said, “These two issues need to be addressed separately” and “it is unfortunate to put the two together.”

“We will try our utmost best to identify, intervene and assist these students.”

Kupe said in a newsletter: “In this budget, Wits will spend about R65-million from its own coffers on financial aid and scholarships (up from R59 million in 2012), in addition to administering over R162 million in National Student Financial Aid Scheme funding and other bursaries and scholarships.”

The university administration did not give any concrete ideas about how it would solve the problem of the homeless students.