The SRC are set to meet with UP management to discuss the ongoing problem of res food prices. The meeting will take place on Tuesday 29 March. On 15 March the SRC laid an official complaint at the offices of the Public Protector and the Competition Commission about high food prices in residence dining halls.
According to the SRC the food prices are “a gross violation of the fundamental human rights.” Katlego Malatji, Secretary General of the SRC, says they are continuing with the struggle inherited from previous Student Representative Councils to make res food affordable. “We have spoken enough; it is time for the revolution,” he quipped.
According to Charl Oberholzer, SRC chairperson, the SRC turned to the Competition Commission because it feels that the commission will be able to put pressure on the university. A source at the Competition Commission told Perdeby that investigations into complaints of this nature usually take one to three years to be completed depending on the circumstances of the complaint.
Neither the Public Protector or the Competition Commission have officially responded to the complaint. In 2006 it cost a student R12 000 annually to eat meals in the dining hall.
This year the price has risen to R25 200 per annum. The most expensive meal costs R38. The SRC accuses Tuks of making a profi t from students. They claim that some items are marked up by as much as 100%.
Mr Peter Martin, head of Tuks Food Services denies that any profi t is made. He says that they only just cover their costs. In a report TuksRes sent to Perdeby, the increase in food prices is blamed on infl ation.
They also maintain that TuksRes is committed to providing food at affordable prices. However, various students think that the food is too expensive. Stephan Maré, a second-year in Kollege, says, “The prices at the items sales are really expensive.”
He also says that it is cheaper to eat breakfast at Spur than at his residence. “Students are paying high prices for food that isn’t of good quality,” added Oberholzer. An emergency meeting with Tuks management was held on Wednesday 16 March, a day after the submission of the complaint, and the SRC agreed that it will withdraw the complaint only if the negotiations with management are successful.
“If we don’t walk out with a solution suitable to everyone, then a mass meeting will be held with all students to discuss what leverage [we can] use,” said Oberholzer. Anzel Steyn, head of residences at the SRC, says that any student can contact her for input, at anzel. email@example.com before their March 29 meeting with management.
Oberholzer said he hoped that the SRC’s steps would resolve this issue once and for all. “We hope this food issue will fi nally be buried,” he says.
Photo: Desré Barnard