Students complain about 'deplorable' living conditions at Nelson Mandela University

2018-07-06 11:13

Student leaders at Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth have spoken out against what they call "deplorable" living conditions.

They are among nearly 600 students living at the Premier Student Accommodation (PSA) residence, GroundUp reported. Students say the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) pays a monthly fee of R2 750 per student.

Students say they have to share five stoves and a single washing sink in the kitchen. There are a few fridges, but they don’t always work. The Wi-Fi connection is poor and the shuttle service is unreliable, they said.

Student leader Sihle Moya moved into the residence in January. He said they were excited when management told them that there would be unlimited Wi-Fi, warm bathing water, a huge dining room and "other things that make student life easier".

Moya said, less than a month later, students started complaining because these promises were not fulfilled.

Nelson Mandela University students complained abou
Nelson Mandela University students complained about poor living conditions at the Premier Student Accommodation residence in Port Elizabeth. (Joseph Chirume/GroundUp)

"We had a meeting on February 26 about Wi-Fi services being unavailable on the second and third floors. Our bath water was cold and there were only two working stoves. There was one rusty microwave that was not working properly. We were also charged R50 for laundry."

He said many students also complained that they were forced to throw food away after the fridges stopped working. They also had issues with accessing the front gate and some rooms.

Students worried

"NSFAS money was being deducted from our accounts to replace lost [access] cards. We demanded pin codes instead of cards. There was also money deducted from each student if there were any damages, like a broken window," he said.

University spokesperson Zandile Mbabela told GroundUp that most of the problems raised by the students would be addressed.

"Three students raised these issues with the previous director of student housing and the current director. Attempts were made to remedy the situation at a meeting, but some of the affected students did not confirm their availability. This was shortly before recess and will be picked up again when they return."

Mbabela said students would no longer be charged fees for laundry. She said students had also been given the option to use the university’s canteen to alleviate the problem with cooking facilities at the residence.

More vehicles had been added to the shuttle service to accommodate the increased demand for transport between campuses and off-campus accommodation sites.

But the student leaders told GroundUp that "several emails were sent to university management, which were never responded to".

The students are worried they won’t have a place to sleep when they return to university at the end of July.

Read more on:    nmu  |  nsfas  |  port elizabeth  |  education  |  university fees

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