As investigations into what caused the fire that destroyed Nyika Hostel at The Polytechnic last week continue, the college says it needs K146 million to support students affected by the incident.
A statement published yesterday says the institution’s management intends to reopen the college on January 6, but needs the money to support the immediate needs of the 268 affected students such as accommodation, beddings, clothing, transport and learning materials.
Reads the statement in part: “The management of The Polytechnic is, therefore, appealing to well-wishers [individuals, families, business community/private sector, the diplomatic community, NGOs, religious community and the public to assist the students in any way possible.”
In an interview yesterday, The Polytechnic acting registrar Yamikani Chilinde confirmed that the institution, a constituent college of the University of Malawi, intends to re-open early next month but needs well-wishers’ support.
Commenting on the cause of fire, she said investigations are still underway but refused to disclose the institutions undertaking the inquest.
Last week, police indicated that they were probing the cause of fire that rendered the whole hostel, which was accommodating 268 students, inhabitable.
When contacted yesterday, Southern Region Police spokesperson Ramsey Mushani said police have not yet established the cause of the fire, insisting “investigations are underway”.
However, some Polytechnic students and a security guard, who claimed to have witnessed the start of the inferno, claimed that tear gas canisters police officers fired in the hostel’s rooms and hit the ceiling, causing the fire.
The fire, which damaged property and left over 126 students stranded, started on Wednesday afternoon following running battles between First Year students and the police, who fired tear gas to disperse them.
Students, mainly from Chichiri hostels, were protesting against what they called “the rise in cases of attacks and theft of property belonging to First Year students”.
The college’s decision to re-open on January 6 follows pressure from final year students.