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Fort Hare students to be accommodated elsewhere after East London residence accident

By Yolanda Palezweni - Jul 19, 2017
Fort Hare students to be accommodated elsewhere after East London residence accident

The University of Fort Hare in East London has agreed to provide alternative accommodation after the ceiling in a privately-owned residence, Union Arcade, reportedly collapsed on a student last week Thursday. The institution will also amend its accreditation policy for privately-owned student residences.

The latest development follows a visit by the Democratic Alliance (DA) Member of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training, and Democratic Alliance Student Organisation (DASO) Constancy leader, Hlomela Bucwa, to the Union Arcade - she also later met with the institution Vice Chancellor, Professor Sakhela Buhlungu.

Bucwa said that Professor Buhlungu admitted that the institution should have addressed the student accommodation crisis last year.

“As the Democratic Alliance, we believe that the safety and well-being of students remains a priority and that every student deserve an affordable accommodation conducive for both living and learning,” said Bucwa.

She added that institution failing to have its own accommodation has subjected the students to being exploited by some unscrupulous East London-based landlords.

“I am shocked that three students lived in one small room that should at most accommodate two students and they were paying up to R27 200 a year each,” she added.

Speaking to RNEWS, one of the students living in Union Arcade, Buhle Maqabuka, said that students have been living in bad conditions for a year now without management paying any attention.

“We are living in hell here, the building is collapsing and our lives are in danger and every day we have to bath in cold water yet we pay more than R20 000 a year,” said Maqabuka.

Bucwa and DASO Constituency leaders had a closed meeting with the building's management and Fort Hare representatives.

She later told RNEWS that the management promised that by the end of August ,all the students will be vacated to another residence that will cater for 400 students.

According to Bucwa, management said that the 30 students that were affected by the ceiling that collapsed were moved to local hotels.

“Lack of accommodation has become a barrier to the success of many students whose dreams have been denied,” said Bucwa.

She said  that it is time that the African National Congress (ANC) government invest in the future of the country and prioritise education providing adequate funding to the institutions of higher learning to ensure that no student is left behind. 

Bucwa further added that the institution must be invited to meet with the Portfolio Committee on High Education and Training to outline its challenges.

“Private ownership is a problem and it has something to do with profit making, hence commercialised ownership of accommodation has to be something that should be looked into by our institutions of higher learning,” she said.