The South African Students Congress (SASCO) in Gauteng is disappointed that after more than 440 days and 62 weeks later we are still faced with a student accommodation crisis in Gauteng province. This is despite the commitment made by the “people’s movement”, the African National Congress (ANC) in Gauteng on the 22nd of January 2016 where the ANC in Gauteng publicly committed itself to eradicating the crisis surrounding student accommodation in the province. Scores of homeless students are scattered across Gauteng province and our situation has come to be a norm in various campuses in Gauteng with the pleas for assistance from students falling on deaf ears of the political leadership of the province. The ANC has on several occasions raised our hopes in resolving this crisis through their commitments to assist students but now it is evident that these failed commitments are nothing but an attempt to avoid the shutdown of institutions of higher learning in Gauteng without addressing the challenges faced by students in the province.

The ANC in Gauteng committed itself through its government to revamp all unused municipal & provincial buildings into safe residences. Further, the ANC committed themselves to a process of building student villages across Gauteng province which the ANC committed would be interlinked with all modes of public transport. It is quite disappointing that students in Gauteng are today faced with sleeping in libraries, lecture halls, computer labs and squatting with peers all to ensure that they have a roof over their heads. Whilst the political leadership is changing hotels and government houses on a daily basis, students in the province wake up not knowing where they will sleep the following day. Today, 440 days since the ANC’s commitment to students in Gauteng province, students are homeless-having not received any update on the promise made by the ANC, no building revamped, no student housed and students continue living in squalor.

In Gauteng, students are, amongst the highest population which is found in the province. Gauteng alone is home to over 100 campuses of institutions of Higher learning.  It should be important that the ANC begins to take the plight of students seriously. A situation of students being treated as sub-human, second rate and immaterial will not be tolerated. Students deserve and will be treated with the respect which is afforded to every South African.

The life of Comrade Solomon Mahlangu teaches us never to deter at the face of difficulty, as we remember his contribution to the political freedom we enjoy today. We recommit ourselves as students to the total transformation of the higher education sector, we remain undeterred even when we as students bath in public toilets, sell our bodies for meals and study beneath street lights in Gauteng. We are here today with no “People’s education” which Solomon Mahlangu laid down his life for.

We will continue engaging all relevant stakeholders in finding solutions to the accommodation crisis faced by students in the province.  We call on all students with no accommodation in Gauteng to occupy all Community Halls, ANC Regional & Provincial offices to house them as they wait for a permanent solution to this accommodation crisis. We call on the department of Community Safety and progressive mayors in Gauteng province to ensure that law enforcement officers are deployed to community halls and public sites which are occupied by students to ensure that our students are safe and they sleep in peace without being harassed or disturbed by criminal elements and private securities. We have faith in the MEC of Community Safety to do the right thing as a mother in ensuring that students are not vulnerable to sugar daddies nor do they resort to prostitution or to committing crimes hence we plead with her to ensure that areas which house our students are guarded until a solution is brought forward. In the interim we would hope that the so called “people’s movement”, the ANC would provide sleeping materials to students who do not own them.

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