DUT STUDENTS WAKING UP IN SLUMS
By: Nasiphi Mvunyiswa
Most of Durban University of Technology’s students that the university could not accommodate in its residences have out of desperation resorted to staying in slums in and around the Durban CBD.
There are over a thousand students every year that DUT cannot accommodate and some of these students have resorted to living in cheap slums. Affordable flats are found on St Georges Street, the City Market and a few others around Berea.
St Georges Street is said to be one of the highest crime hotspots in the city. It has more than four bars. While this place is well-known for affordable accommodation for students, it is equally well-known for having the worst living conditions.
Cost and Management Accounting student, Skholiwe Chamu, has tried his best to get accommodation at DUT but failed. Chamu said that he spent a couple of days in a queue for accommodation and at one stage slept at the DUT Fred Crookes Sports Centre. “After so many days in a queue, I finally went through. They said I didn’t apply, while I did apply,” said Chamu. He currently lives in a male hostel. “It’s a very bad place for a student. There is too much noise here I can’t even study. It’s just not cool, tomorrow I’m writing a test and I can’t even study. I must wait till I get to school to study,” added Chamu.
Rooms in these flats generally have more than four double beds and some with numerous bunkers. The flats found in The Market, Berea Road and other cheap buildings offer nothing better. However, students have no choice hence they live in these unhygienic conditions because they cannot afford the better and expensive flats.
Another student that desperately needed accommodation is Sethabile Khumalo. Khumalo now lives with her friend’s family of eight in a three-roomed house.
“There’s no space to study and I’m badly affected because I have to do house work instead of studying and money for transport is killing me. I can’t afford sometimes and have to borrow,” said Khumalo.
What makes Khumalo’s situation even worse is that financial aid has not paid for her registration and fees. “I decided to call NSFAS (National Financial Aid Scheme) and they told me I’m part of the students who are not funded for due to the exhaustion of funds,” stated Khumalo. She said that it’s unfair that they’re faced with these challenges.
“It’s sad that the challenge we face is to get education and yet they tell us education is the key. It’s not right, something must be done and fast, for our future generation,” concluded Khumalo.
DUT’s Senior Director of Corporate Affairs, Alan Khan, said that they are aware of the huge demand for student accommodation. Unfortunately, that demand surpasses the number of beds in residences that they have available.
“At the University’s Durban Centre alone, where the total capacity of beds is 4886, DUT receives over 5300 applications for resident applications,” said Khan.
“About six years ago, the DUT Council made a decision that the university accommodate not more than 25% of its total student population,” added Khan. He concluded that the university is constructing two new blocks of student residences which will accommodate 800 students. These new blocks are to be ready by early 2015.
Students that do not live in residences are still in the dark about when they will receive their meal allowance. Financial aid has told them to wait for SMSs to inform them.