Rhodes University: State of Uncleanliness

It is now mid July and I have been frustrated (all year) about the state of uncleanliness at Gavin Reilly Post Graduate Village. I keep complaining but get dismissed by the warden Proffesor Juma. Last week when I complained, instead of addressing the issues raised, I was called in for a meeting. The junior warden Yanela said that it is too late to complain as it is now July. Wow. Despite the fact that I have been complaining all year.


When I moved into Gavin Reilly I was shown a few rooms and I could not live there as they looked like flats in a slum. I finally had to settle when I realised that all the rooms were in a less than acceptable state. I had just driven 12hrs from Johannesburg and it was night time and I was in no state to throw a fuss. Also I had been awarded a scholarship so I did not want to ruffle any feathers. But after much thought, I cannot be held hostage by this scholarship and be made to live like this.


I gave into the filth, used my sleeping bag and the next morning went to get cleaning agents. I spent my 1st day here scrubbing grimy walls and washing my carpets. The grease on my kitchen walls was impossible so I ended up buying gift wrapping paper to make wall paper. This was so that I could cook my food without looking at old, brown grease smeared on my wall. Then there was the oven which had black old grease. The baking tray was so filthy, it was like it had grilled many meals but had never been cleaned. There were thick layers and clumps of old burnt oil which I couldn’t even get clean with all my cleaning agents, including bleach. It was like the stove had been used all year or 2 without ever being cleaned. The inside of the oven was a blackness of dirt. That is where I was expected to cook my food. I complained and they replaced the oven immediately. I had won one small battle.

As for the filthy carpets, in the 1st week they shampooed them…..that was the last time. This is now something I do myself on all 4s with a brush, despite the fact they have machines to shampoo our carpets which get used once a year.


The bigger problem however was the infestation of cockroaches (owing to the state of filth.) Gavin Reilly has such a big cockroach problem I am surprised the staff was pretending not to know this when I raised it. Initially they made me feel like nobody else had the problem until I started speaking to other students. The other students were also equally mortified at the cockroach problem here. I heard stories of groups of cockroaches leisurely walking on walls. One student could even hear them come out and scratch on her walls and bed at night. She went as far as videoing them and sending the video to Juma. My frustrated neighbour knocked on my door 4 days ago in a complete state about the cockroaches. The grown man was close to tears saying the situation was just getting worse.


As usual, I googled every remedy to kill cockroaches, I found my budget being affected as I had to keep buying tea tree oil (not cheap) and have cockroach powder all over my room. But to add insult to injury, I have an asthmatic history so the more I sprayed doom, the sicker I got. My chest would act up from all the chemicals in my room and the constant spraying of this stuff that I KNOW aggravates my asthma. We managed to get our rooms fumigated but in true Rhodes style, they do it once and expect the problem to go away. I do not want to live with cockroaches so I use this fumigation solution frequently, however last time they complained. I’m not sure why because, if they know this space is filthy, then they should know that filth attracts cockroaches.


Now I am dealing with my bathroom walls. I have been complaining about these all year too. Imagine a bathroom wall which has seen thousands of showers from many people without being regularly cleaned. Can you imagine the black grime which gathers in between the tiles? Well, that is where I am expected to wash. When I moved in, the corners of my bath were peeling and it looked really ugly. Nothing you would want to bath in. In fact I only shower here, so that I don’t get to see the walls. The maintenance people came and did a half job and only sealed the bath corners. They failed to scrape all the old grime and dirt off and reseal the walls. In other words, the whiteness of the freshly sealed bath magnified the state of blackness on the walls. And every time I am in there I wonder whose filth I am washing in. I googled this too and found that if I use lemon and vinegar on my walls, it cleans old grime. I showed the housekeeping staff my new walls and gave them the remedy so they could fix other students bathrooms. From what I heard there was a student whose bath was so brown even the staff was complaining. Eeeuww!!!!! But how does the staff and maintenance even allow it to get there? I could not get it clean between the tiles and this issue needs maintenance to come scrape it off. I feel like I have truly done my bit and tried everything, I need to be met half way. I want to enjoy a nice bath in a clean bathroom, is that too much to ask?


When I moved here, I was shocked to learn that we do not at least get housekeeping once a week. This is a shared space it is the university’s responsibility to ensure that the living conditions are acceptable. If there are about 70 units here and we all pay R42 000 a year then I do not understand why they do not cater for housekeeping. They are dealing with students who are here to learn, their focus may not be on housekeeping and as a result we now have a cockroach manifestation problem accumulating from a state of uncleanliness. It is unfair that this issue is not addressed. It is not nice to live in dirt.


I do not want to have meetings with you professor……I want to live in a CLEAN space, WITHOUT COCKROACHES!



Ntsiki Speaks Thanks……

Ntsiki Speaks Thanks……


Sinethi Mpepo for driving me to persue this dream

Zikhona and the Fringe team for supporting me

The whole National Arts PR team (i had no marketing budget…you saved me)

Raymond, Fufu Miya and RMR for sponsoring me with flyers

Leon at Pick n Pay for helping me with putting up posters in town

Perry Mason for the twitter campaign support

Samkela Stamper, Phumzile Macwili and the Kidz Network team what a beautiful journey

Everybody who bought tickets for the Take A Black Gal to theatre campaign…..wow…siyabulela

My director Masi Heshu and sis Nox for stepping in when I needed help

Masi Heshu…..you brought out the best in me

Buti Terror and Bra Jon and the rest of the technical team…u were amazing 2 me

All my twitter friends who RT my promotions and helped me with visibility

The journalists who wrote beautiful reviews

My bestfriends Boni and Lizo for coming in from Jozi to dream with me

My little sister Nomi, for your endless support

And finally thank you to my tenacity and strength and that I never give up…..against all odds …here i stand VICTORIOUS!


Umntu ngumntu ngabantu…..thank you so much for teaching me such a valuable lesson