NMU student accommodation issues in spotlight

Four students arrive at NMU as many unfunded students worry about where they are going to stay
UNIVERSITY PROTESTS: Four students arrive at NMU as many unfunded students worry about where they are going to stay

An Instagram post has revealed that a female Nelson Mandela University student who could not find accommodation last week was allegedly forced to have sex with another student just to have a bed to sleep in.

The student posted the message anonymously on the Madibaz Confessions Instagram page, which is not run by the university.

EFF student council branch convener Yiva Makrwede said it was unfortunate that some students were forced into such situations.

Makrwede said only a few women were brave enough to speak out about such incidents.

“We are not pleased that students have to [allegedly] sell their bodies because they do not have accommodation, but this is not new at NMU.

“It has been happening for years,” Makrwede alleged.

“It is good the students are brave enough to address these issues.

“The university [allegedly] does not take these matters seriously in making sure the question of safety is addressed.

“You cannot expect students to be stranded at night.

“The university needs to take the fall for all these incidents that are happening to the students.”

In the post, the student said: “I had no accommodation this week and no-one was willing to assist me, even [the] SRC, so I ended up sleeping with a guy just for a place to sleep.

“I am honestly so broken.”

The post garnered many reactions, with people offering their sympathy. 

Protest action flared up on the campus last week over unpaid student accommodation, leaving many students from other provinces without a place to stay.

Classes were cancelled for the week, but will resume on Monday.

Makrwede said most students came from all corners of SA and claimed the university did not take their safety into consideration.

“We have not received direct cases but we have heard about this happening.

“We encourage students to report these cases so we can also deal with these chance-takers.”

SA Student Congress regional secretary Lonwabo Siramza said news of what had allegedly happened to the female student was not welcomed.

“We want to know who this person is so she can be comforted and helped.

“We emphasise that people must come forward as we want to keep communication lines open with the university, but we are still proceeding as students will not stop protesting until our needs are met,” Siramza said.

More than 1,000 students, many from other provinces, were forced to sleep in boardrooms or lecture rooms at NMU or end up on the streets.

Every morning, unfunded students who are provided with accommodation have to pack their bags, vacating their accommodation.

These were among the reasons students protested against lectures starting on February 20.

NMU spokesperson Zandile Mbabela said the university had sufficiently accredited accommodation for funded students and their student housing unit always had the means to provide overnight accommodation to students in need.

“Student housing allocates student accommodation using a system where male and female students are housed separately.

“During the week, in trying to deal with the student accommodation issues for unfunded students, some were erroneously given rooms in one of the blocks in the new residences,” Mbabela said.

This error was, however, speedily rectified.

She said it was heartbreaking to hear of such incidents as posted on social media and hoped the student reported the incident for appropriate action to be taken.

“The university has stringent policies and awareness programmes against gender-based violence,” Mbabela said.



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