The Wits Junction, the newest student residence in Parktown, has been termed the “Sandton” of Wits by students. With state of the art facilities and fully furnished, self-catering apartments, it is astonishing that Junction apartments and passages are not equipped with any smoke detectors.
Mhumelela Qolohle and Buhle Mquku, 3rd year medical students, often team up in the kitchen. This is their second year at Junction, however they experienced a ‘smokey’ issue last July.
“We use the oven all the time,” Qolohle said, “we were sitting outside while the chips were cooking and all of a sudden the room was steamy and there was smoke everywhere.”
“If there was a smoke detector, it would have stopped almost immediately after picking up the smoke” Mquku said. Feeling helpless and unaware of who to call, they switched the oven off and fanned the smoke away.
Unfortunately for their friend, Lindelwa Thumbathi, 4th year medical student, there was a fire at her apartment two years ago.
“My room was surrounded by my neighbours and a security guard” Thumbathi said. “The security guard could not do much himself and was acting like everyone else”. Thumbathi arrived and unlocked the room door, after the security had broken down her window to disperse the flames with the fire extinguisher.
“The security was helpless,” Thumbathi said, “he did not know what to do or who to call”. This is Thumbathi’s third year at Junction and in all three years she said there have not been practice fire drills.
Some Junction residents were unaware of the absence of smoke detectors in their rooms, while others were upset and thought it irresponsible on behalf of Junction, like 2nd year BA student, Nomhle Mncwango.
Other students highlighted incidents they witnessed of neighbours and nearby friends, like Msimisi Sacolo, 2nd year BCom Accounting student.
The Wits Junction, valued at R490 million, comprises of 700 bachelor units, as well as two-bedroom, three-bedroom and four bedroom units, which can host a maximum of 1 200 students. The cluster manager, accommodation officer, head of security and head of residence life could all not be reached for comment.