1 700 students face eviction

2019-02-15 14:42

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Just over 1 700 Durban University of Technology (DUT) students staying in outsourced residences in the city fear they could soon find themselves out on the streets without a place to sleep.

This if the institution does not pay outsourced service providers, tasked with providing accommodation to students in Scottsville, Pelham and the CBD.

Attention was drawn to this on Thursday by outraged service providers who claimed they have not been paid for January.

The service providers from the Pietermaritzburg-based Young Money Business Forum, claim they are owed an estimated R2 million by DUT.

They charge between R1 800 to R2 200 per bed per month for accommodation.

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) pays a grant into the university’s account for tuition fees and university-managed accommodation, which is then distributed to outsourced accommodation service providers.

NSFAS media liaison officer Phathisa Ntlonze referred an inquiry to DUT.

While they converged at DUT on Thursday to demand answers, the landlords told The Witness that they were not given a definite answer on when the monies would be paid.

They have now threatened to evict students if the monies are not paid by Monday.

“We pay a lot of upfront capital costs. We are paying for rates, water and electricity and the municipality is now threatening to shut down their services. We’re now having to find money to subsidise those payments from other buildings and it’s unfair. It’s a very negative impact,” said one of the service providers, who accommodates 300 students.

The members of the forum said they were supposed to have been paid on the last Thursday of January.

“We’ve got these properties that we’ve given to DUT and if they’re not paying it affects us as small businesses in terms of growth and providing all that is required for the students.

“We are expected to deliver all the services they ask from us, like making sure that there is running water and electricity but we haven’t been paid. We’re halfway into the second month.”

Another service provider said: “Students complain every day … they want this and that. It’s very tough on us. We don’t even submit claims for things that are broken in our properties, but they don’t even honour our contracts.”

The forum members said they had backtracked on wages and bond payments.

“I submitted my invoices on time, but I am not receiving any payment from the institution, and they give no explanation.

“We have approached DUT about this, but we get no joy,” said another service provider.

“I applied for this programme not only for the business but to make a difference. I know what it’s like not to have accommodation. I am disappointed at how I’m being treated by the institution. They are contributing to me becoming bankrupt.”

The service providers also complained that their counterparts in Durban were getting preferential rates for accommodation offered.

Concerned students who spoke to The Witness on Thursday said they were not aware that payments had not been made.

“If we are kicked out then DUT will have to find us alternative accommodation,” one student said.

Another student said she did not blame the institution for late payments as they stayed in cramped living spaces with minimal space to study.

“There are seven of us living in one room, using one bathroom and toilet. If someone is showering, we have to wait to use the toilet and rush for the next person to go, and we all have to leave at the same time for our classes,” said a student from the Nquthu.

DUT spokesperson Alan Khan said the management team in the Midlands campuses had met with some members of the forum on Wednesday.

“The meeting agreed on the way forward and highlighted the critical documentation that must be submitted by these service providers to DUT. Some of the documentation requested is still outstanding as of today, February 14,” Khan said.

He said the university was committed to ensuring that the service providers are timeously assisted, and that the university complies with all financial auditing requirements.

• nokuthula.khanyile@media24.com
Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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