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By Cornelia Le Roux

Digital Deputy News Editor

Eastern Cape elections 2024: WSU students might ‘lose’ their vote – Here’s why

Thousands of WSU students face the possibility of missing out on their first-time voting experience tomorrow.

Walter Sisulu University (WSU) students, most of them first-time voters, might be denied their opportunity to cast their ballot come Wednesday.

This if the decision to evict students from campus by the university’s management remains in place.

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The closure of both the Nelson Mandela Drive (NMD) and Zamukulungisa sites of the Mthatha campus follows a communique issued by vice-chancellor Professor Rushiella Songca on Monday night.

Eviction notice for WSU student residences

All students in university and private residences were given until 10am on Tuesday to vacate the campus premises with teaching and learning activities transitioning to online platforms.

The Student Representative Council (SRC) and all political structures at the Mthatha campus were also suspended until further notice.

WSU students wounded on N2 during taxi shutdown

The vice-chancellor accused students of joining the violent taxi shutdown which brought the capital of the OR Tambo District Municipality to a standstill.

According to Songca, the vice-chancellor said the university’s management had received reports indicating nine WSU students were wounded on the N2 during Monday’s shutdown.

The university stated that its decision to close the campus and transition to online learning was to address the situation.

ALSO READ: Eastern Cape elections 2024: What is happening so far on the ground?

WSU eviction ahead of election day

The eviction of the WSU students ahead of election day has been slammed by the South African Students’ Congress (SASCO).

In a statement, SASCO demands that the eviction notice be lifted as the university is a voting station with thousands of students registered to vote there.

“This communique serves to address the unjust actions of the management to evict students for fighting for their constitutional rights. We demand that the eviction is lifted, especially because it’s national elections today and WSU is a voting station.

“Many of our students have registered to vote there and are now being deprived of their right to participate in national elections.”

‘Working tirelessly’

It further said in the statement that it was working “tirelessly with the upper structure, the ANC and legal team deployed by the ANC to challenge the outcomes of that eviction letter”.

The Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) leadership has organised a hall to accommodate all students who had difficulties going home.

ALSO READ: Eastern Cape warns ‘fearmongers’ threatening shutdown during elections

‘Deprived of an opportunity to vote’

SASCO’s stance on the eviction notice was echoed by student leader Mkhululi Gqalindawo.

“Most students registered here on campus, and unfortunately there are some students who have gone home. Most of the students here were going to be first-time voters, but, unfortunately, they have been deprived of an opportunity to vote,” he told Daily Dispatch.

Peaceful protest gone wrong?

An SRC member, who asked not to be named, denied that they were part of the taxi strike.

“Our protest has nothing to do with the taxi operators,” an SRC member, who asked not to be named, told the news publication.

“We have been having peaceful marches around campus since Thursday, but today [Monday] students blocked the road.

“That still has nothing to do with the taxi operators.”

According to her, a memorandum highlighting how students’ lives are in danger due to the systemic failure of transport, was submitted to the university management on 20 May.

Students are forced to walk or hitchhike as taxi operators in Mthatha stopped landlords from transporting students living off-campus to the Nelson Mandela Drive and Zamukulungisa sites.

“Some have been robbed of their belongings, like cellphones and laptops,” the student claimed.

NOW READ: WATCH: Volatile Eastern Cape taxi protest suspended

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