A lack of information has led to many students from areas outside Pretoria to remain stranded as they applied late for university, leaving them without accommodation in the city while the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) processes their applications. After being approached by the university’s Students Representative Council (SRC), a local church has decided to house the estimated 265 applicants as they await a response from TUT. Some arrived in the capital with no food and the Apostolic Faith Mission in Soshanguve’s Block B has decided to take on the responsibility of feeding them too. SRC president, Khoisan Sonti, says he saw the need to approach various churches after realising many students would camp outside TUT’s Soshanguve campuses. Luckily they were willing to help.
“Firstly, we had a partnership with a church by the name of Assembly of God which had accommodated for a very long time to a point where we even it was enough and decided to find another church that was more spacious and safe, and then we found Bethesda. I must say, one could run out of words on how to thank these churches – this is the socialism and ubuntuism we are looking for in our society.”
The student council decided to partner with churches to help students not yet registered as the university rules prohibit anyone who hasn’t been formally documented by TUT to be housed on its campuses.
“As the representative body of these students, we are deterred by TUT policies to activate students’ residences. TUT policy says no one should be given a temporary accommodation for as long as he/she is a non-student in TUT. We therefore decided to find accommodation outside the campus to nearest houses and local churches to help these students.”
Some students have taken shelter at the church as they cannot afford rent in the township, despite it being cheap. Busi Dubazana says she hopes the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will pay her fees and accommodation as she couldn’t even afford the daily rent of R20 in one of the houses in the area. “Pastor Ndlovu has really helped us a lot especially if there are things bothering us, we are able to approach him and share our problems with him and he helps us where he can. We don’t starve; he normally buys food for us because he understands our predicament.”
Bethesda Church’s Public Relations officer, Sipho Dludlu, says they believe their efforts will result in students seeing the need to assist others in future.
“We give all these students free accommodation and free food without expecting even a little cent from them because we know they don’t have money to maintain themselves currently. We are busy planting a seed of love within them so they could help others in future who would be in the same shoes as they are currently.”