Students angry over balcony collapse

By: Bongani Fuzile and Sino Majangaza

University of Fort Hare students, who stay at a privately owned residence in Quigney, are counting their lucky stars after a balcony collapsed last week.

The balcony on the second floor of the Gleneagles flats cracked where the floor slab joins the building and was seen dangling precariously, held together only by pieces of metal.

The students said the balcony, was a favourite hangout spot.

“Luckily there were no students around when it happened,” said a student who wanted to remain anonymous.

University spokesman Khotso Moabi did not respond to an e-mail, phone call and SMS.

Students, who asked not to be named citing fear of victimisation yesterday, said the building was not up to standard and was not fit for human habitation.

They also complained that they were not getting value for their money.

They lamented the fact that it was unacceptable that very little is being done to sort out this problem.

“The situation is bad. The owner of this building is doing so little to maintain it and yet we pay large of amounts of money to stay here” the student said.

“We do not feel safe here. Our lives are in danger.”

The building is owned and managed by Pulse Property Group. The company’s director, Mtheza Buya yesterday said they had taken an advice from their engineers to close each balcony in the building.

“We immediately attended to the case as early as 2am on Thursday. We’ve done an investigation to determine the cause of the collapse and to investigate potential danger to the occupants. The position of reinforcing which was not correctly placed is the main cause of the collapse,” said Buya.

The students called on the management of the university to do routine checks on all privately-owned buildings that accommodated students.

“There has been a lot of incidents of buildings that are not in good condition and students are forced to stay there.

“It cannot be acceptable that we find ourselves living under these conditions,” said another student.

Students said the building was damp and bad for their health and damaged their linen and clothes.

Buya countered saying: “The students fail to open windows when they bath and when their heaters are on and that leads to mould on the wall. We do routine checks of the buildings ,” said Buya.

University of Fort Hare East London campus SRC residence officer Luvo Ndila said affected students were evacuated immediately.

“Those who were directly affected are temporarily accommodated at Windsor Cabanas,” Ndila said.

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