Students evicted, and residence list falls short of need

Accommodation tensions are still simmering at the University of Fort Hare. The university issued a list with names of students it could accommodate – scores less than requested by residence officials.

Student squatters were also evicted this week, with 180 students moved out of Elwandle residence in East London, and 20 from Tower House, after being issued with a notice on Wednesday. This was according to SRC residence officer Luvo Ndila.

Yesterday, the university released a list of 211 students to whom it could offer accommodation but Ndila said this number was 139 short of the 350 students needing accommodation – and whose names were on a list submitted to UFH by residence officials.

“The university has told us that there is no other space and they only have space for 211 students,” said Ndila, adding that they had advised students whose names were not on the list to seek private accommodation.

“They must get a lease agreement with their landlord which they will have to take to the residence office,” he said.

University spokesman Khotso Moabi said residence space that was agreed upon by both the SRC and management was procured.

“Students are expected to move in on Friday [yesterday],” he said, confirming that a notice was issued.

“Residences are for legitimate room owners as stipulated in university policies. Students who are supposed to move to the procured building have not been moved out and there was a memo to that effect from the office of the dean of students,” he said.

He said the agreement between the SRC and management was for 211 students and there was a list of those students who were known to the SRC, students and the residence department.

“Naturally, if there are vacant spaces, students who qualify for accommodation will be accommodated,” he said.

On Wednesday, students squatting at Elwandle residence were given until 6pm to vacate the building.

The notice read: “All unregistered students [squatters] occupying space at Elwandle are requested to vacate the building immediately. Should you disobey, you will be removed from the premises by Wednesday, April 11 at 6pm.”

By late yesterday, Ndila said they managed to buy some time for those at Elwandle, who have until today to find alternative accommodation. Those at Tower House were however evicted.

When the Dispatch visited the residence this week, there was a single room that was occupied by at least six students. The room belonged to a senior student.

The students were among those evicted from Glen Eagles residence in February.

The owner of the room said she could not fold her arms and do nothing. “They had nowhere to go. I have to be a big sister and so I gave them my room,” she said.

One of the students sharing the room said she applied for residence accommodation, but did not get it.

“I was admitted to study, but I was not allocated a room,” she said.

The student said she got R250 for groceries from her parents for the whole month. She is a National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) beneficiary, but she would not get her food allowance if she did not have proof of residence.

Down the road, a residence that is currently occupied by students who were removed from Ideal Court after a lease agreement expired, has about 18 empty double rooms.

One student who talked to the Dispatch yesterday said she was not sure whether she was on the list of those who had been allocated accommodation.

“… if not, I do not know where I will stay.”