University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) students at San Sabil residence on Hospital Road, South Beach, Durban, burnt their mattresses on Thursday night. The residence accommodates about 200 students that attend Howard College.
According to Student Representative Council (SRC) President Mkhanyisi Myende students are unhappy with conditions at the residence. “The lifts are not working. They have been giving the students a problem since last year and this year they are not working at all. The residence has eleven floors. The lifts’ problem makes it hard for students who stay on the upper floors because they have to use the stairs every time they leave or enter the residence,” said Myende.
“The beds that the students are using … the bases are made of steel; the mattresses are very old. This makes it very uncomfortable and unbearable for students to sleep,” said Myende. He said refrigerators were unreliable and the students’ food sometimes went rotten. He said the cupboards and wardrobes are very small and also very old. Students are also unhappy with the Wifi.
He said the SRC did not condone the damaging of furniture, but it seemed this was the only language the university understood. “About two weeks ago, students from a neighbouring residence, Bedford Hall, burnt several beds after seeing that the university was not attending to their complaint. Soon after the damaging of beds, the complaint was attended to. So San Sabil residence students saw it necessary that they do the same,” said Myende. “On several occasions, we have been raising these issues with them but they have been turning a blind eye.”
Acting Executive Director for Corporate Relations at the university, Normah Zondo, said, “A plan of action has been agreed to with respect to critical housing challenges, which is currently being implemented. The lift has been commissioned for repairs and the lift service provider specialist is currently busy with fault identification.”
KZN police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said, “We can confirm that last night [Thursday] at 10:30pm, a group of students blockaded hospital road with bins and mattresses. The police managed to disperse the crowd. No case or injuries were reported.”