On July 25 Wits EFFSC and South Point residents marched to South Point to hand over a memorandum. The memorandum listed a number of demands concerning the grievances of South Point residents and staff. The memorandum was received by Ndumiso Davidson, South Point’s chief executive officer. The march began at 13:15 and started at the Great Hall.
Wits EFFSC and students marched to South Point and proceeded to fill the entrance hall. This was followed by Koketso Poho, Wits EFFSC chairperson, reading out the memorandum. The memorandum listed Wits EFFSC’s different demands in three categories being fees, maintenance and workers. In terms of the fees, some of the demands were that there is no annual increase in rental fees, a 17% decrease in the rental fee for 2-sharing rooms, the key replacement fee reduced from R600 to R120 and that the washing machines become a free service. One of the demands concerning maintenance was the “immediate attendance to all elevators and other maintenance faults in ALL buildings.” Other maintenance demands included Resident-elected Residential Assistants and the installation of surveillance cameras in kitchens, study areas and laundry line areas. Some of the workers demands were the increase in salaries for FDO security guards and maintenance staff as well as “end to the ill-treatment of FDO security guards and maintenance staff”.
While reading out the memorandum, Poho noted that South Point workers were not present out of fear. Poho said that some workers earn R2500 which is under the recommended minimum wage of R4500. However when Davidson spoke to Wits Vuvuzela, he said that some workers get roughly R4300, which is still under the minimum wage, but that it’s being reconsidered. After Davisdon signed the memorandum on behalf of South Point, everyone returned to the Great Hall for a debriefing session. Ahmed Jada, EFFSC member who was there, told Student News Grid that discussions were centred on how the handing over of the memorandum went and how to improve their plan post South Point’s response.
The memorandum was only drafted after last week’s meeting between the Wits EFFSC and South Point students on July 20. The meeting took place at 17:00 in the Umthobo Building on Wits’ east campus. The Wits EFFSC held a meeting with students to discuss their grievances. Poho told Student News Grid that the Wits EFFSC “noted the injustices and exploitative nature of South Point… [as] students have been approaching us since the beginning of the year.” Jada, who also attended the meeting, explained that the issues were divided into three categories. There categories were “Workers issues and salaries, Fees of South Point as well as maintenance and an intermediary between students and management”.
On twitter #SouthPointsFeesSoRidiculous had been the trending hashtag as students have complained about the high costs of staying at South Point. For example the price for key replacement is R600, for guests there is a sleepover fee of R250 and the rental fees increase annually by 10%. In addition to the fees, Poho said that students mentioned some maintenance issues such as lifts not working, electricity cuts, unreliable water supply and not enough security measures in communal areas. Student News Grid asked Warren Makoga, South Point resident, about these issues. Makoga explained that “lift can go several days without working yet my building has 14 floors.” He also mentioned that common areas are only cleaned once a week when in the lease agreement South Point promised to clean these areas daily.
The Wits EFFSC has stated that South Point has until today, July 28 to respond. The question remains as to whether the Wits EFFSC and South Point residents were heard.