Wits’ most luxurious residence has been accused of maladministration after failing to accommodate its returning and international students leaving them homeless.
The Wits Junction House Committee released a statement on Facebook regarding the perceived difficulties of student accommodation, describing them as “serious gross irregularities” blaming poor management for the problem.
The new cluster manager Thokozani Manyange has been accused of mismanagement after a number of students were left without accommodation. “I propose that the new manager of Junction be changed to Esselen residences so that he can gain experience – because Junction is too big,”said Student Representative Council (SRC) president and former Junction House Committee chairperson, Mcebo Dlamini.
Wits Vuvuzela tried to contact Manyange who directed inquiries to the Director of Campus Housing and Life Rob Sharman. While Sharman said he would not comment “on the allegations about staff,” he disputed the contents of the statement suggesting that it was released to serve the interests of certain committee members who were still on the accommodation waiting list.
“It seems one individual person is pushing very hard for his friends to get it”. Certain people have certain interests”, said Sharman.
According to Sharman there were three individuals behind the release of the statement with the application of two of those applicants was eventually successful because they had followed the normal course of waiting list processes, but the third, because he was a non-applicant is still on the waiting list.
Wits Junction House Committee chairperson Ntando Mndawe confirms that they were two returning students on the waiting list who were members of House Committee, but insists that this was not an issue of self-interest “We weren’t saying they should prioritise the two members… management likes to twist things but they said they would be investigating the issue,” said Mndawe.
Sharman explained that there are two different accommodation waiting lists concerning Wits Junction students. The first consists of 234 students who are not at the res but have inquired and requested accommodation. The second is a list of 33 returning students who are “waiting to write supplementary exams, funding issues are unable to pay fees or appealing.”
Although he admits to a “hierarchy” with the student waiting list system but insists that the criterion set out by the university has to be “applied consistently”.
“There is a difficulty, students do not understand the complexity of dealing with tens and thousands of applications where each applicant has different need, different financial and academic circumstances. Every application has to be considered on its merits,” said Sharman.
“It’s (Wits Junction) the cream of Wits… everything is there so poorly managed and that’s the fact,” said Dlamini.
When Wits Vuvuzela visited the office, there were at least 10 students sitting at reception, all waiting to be placed in accommodation. After Wits Vuvuzela asked a student a question about the lack of accommodation, a receptionist told the reporter: “you are a trouble maker”.
The receptionist called another staff member who told Wits Vuvuzela that it “wasn’t proper etiquette” to interview students waiting at Wits Junction. However Sharman blatantly denies that there is an accommodation crisis – but insists that there are still many students seeking accommodation “as it is typical at this time of year.”