Male and female students share showers in overcrowded cockroach-infested residences with broken windows, broken doors, broken beds and inadequate sanitation.
These are the living conditions hundreds of Walter Sisulu University (WSU) students at Zamukulungisa residences in Mthatha experience daily.
This week students complained about the unhygienic and unsafe living conditions, where up to six students share a single room.
Up to 20 students share a single toilet. When the Daily Dispatch visited the residence this week, there was no hot water and students were using wash basins to bathe as some showers were not working.
Corridors were dark as the lights were not working.
Students said they were not getting value for their money.
Each student – whether staying in a single or double room – pays R17000 a year.
While WSU spokeswoman Yonela Tukwayo acknowledged they had problems in residences, she vehemently dismissed that male and female students were sharing showers, saying they did not have co-ed residences.
Earlier this year, students embarked on a class boycott in a desperate plea for better living conditions.
The Dispatch reported that the university management promised to fix residences. However, six months later, the conditions remain the same.
The students said their protests had landed on deaf ears.
Instead they were labelled unruly troublemakers.
SRC president Fezile November said there was a dire need to revamp the whole site.
“The condition of the residence is totally unacceptable and is not conducive for learning,” he said.
“There is a residence called O where male and female students are sharing showers.
“If a male student is taking a shower a female student can see and vice versa. That is just wrong,” he said.
November said conditions in lecture halls were no different.
“There is a dire shortage of furniture inside lecture halls and some have broken windows. Our conditions here are just unacceptable,” he said.
Tukwayo admitted they had a lack of student accommodation, which had led to illegal squatting in residences.
“We manage to do basic maintenance but we acknowledge that we have a maintenance backlog.
“We do have strict rules against squatting because this has an adverse effect on infrastructure and municipal costs that the university incurs. When we do find cases of squatting we deal with those students,” she said.
Specifically asked about male and female students sharing showers, Tukwayo said the only reason that could be happening would be if students were illegally squatting.
“It is not true that male and female students share showers. They do not even share residences. It is impossible that they would share showers,” she said. — firstname.lastname@example.org