The shutdown at the University of Venda (Univen) continues even as the university announces academic activities will resume August 13. For the past week academic activities at the Limpopo-based university have been cancelled as students held protests. The protests were centered around the fact that students had not received their funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme. (NSFAS)
UPDATE: Makumbi Khathutshelo, the secretary-general of the Student Representative Council (SRC) told The Daily Vox that most students had still not received their allowances and that only around 10-15% of students have received them. During a mass meeting held, students decided they would continue striking until the allowances had been paid out. These allowances include NSFAs, Funza Lushaka and other bursaries.
At the University of Limpopo, a student told The Daily Vox a strike has been initiated at the university by the Economic Freedom Fighters’ Student Command (EFFSC) and the South African Students Students Congress (Sasco). The SRC were in consultation with management.
The student who is a member of the SRC said he and several other students had been arrested for contravening an interdict that the management had taken out against students.
In a statement released by the university on Tuesday morning, the University Management said that an engagement took place between the Univen delegation led by the Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jan Clifford and Nsfas CEO Steven Zwane on August 3. The result of that engagement was more than 10 000 students received their allowances.
Takalani Dzaga, the communications director at Univen said that strike has not been called off yet.
“The university management will utilize the next two days to resolve outstanding matters pertaining to the disbursement of NSFAS allowances to deserving students. We are optimistic that all outstanding matters would be resolved within the next two days,” said Dzaga.
The University says academic activities are to resume on Monday August 13. Speaking to The Daily Vox, Dzaga said the university took the decision to reopen the university of Monday because most of the students have received their allowances and there were only minor issues to sort out like transport allowances. Dzaga said the management had met with the students on Tuesday.
Speaking to the Citizen, Gcina Mhlabane, chair of the EFFSC at Univen said the students took to the streets after the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) failed to provide money to students who qualified.
“The majority of these students are from impoverished families. They have passed matric at no-fee schools because their parents had no money. That is why it is difficult for them to afford the exorbitant transport and textbooks,” said Mhlabane.
Phuti Keetsi, national chairperson for the EFF student command told The Citizen that “The department is failing to roll out the free education of former president Jacob Zuma. The only free education existing in SA now is by force.”
A member of the Student Representative Council (SRC) at Univen told The Daily Vox that students have been evicted from the campus by private security. As for the allowances, the student said: “There was a small portion that received allowances late on Sunday. Since then they haven’t received anything up until now,” he said.
He said even though the university management has said the campus will reopen on Monday, the strike has not been called for so he is not sure what will happen on Monday.
Students took the streets led by the Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command (EFFSC) to protests against the failure by Nsfas to provide allowances to students who had qualified.
— UniversityofLimpopo (@ULvarsity) August 6, 2018
Speaking to The Daily Vox, a student from Ul said students from the university have also not received their Nsfas allowances including food and housing allowances. The student said the university had received the money from Nsfas but they said they could not distribute all the money. The students would be meeting on Wednesday to discuss the way forward.
There have been reports of extreme violence used by police against protesting students. The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has condemned the use of force by the police as well as the fact that students were sent home by the university.
Provincial Manager Victor Mavhidula says the SAHRC will be looking into the matter as students have been sent home by the university following protest action, which is a violation of their right to education #UnivenStrike . KM
— CapricornFM News (@CapricornFMNews) August 5, 2018
This is not the first time students at Univen and UL have raised concerns about the delays in NSFAS allowances. In March students shut down the university of Venda. The concerns at the time were around transport and off-campus allowances. At the time off-campus students were granted a R900 per month transport allowance.
In May, Ul student shut down their campus over Nsfas allowance issues as well as insourcing of workers. http://www.thedailyvox.co.za/unilim-students-fight-for-workers-rights-fatima-moosa/
Even though the students were scheduled to receive their Nsfas allowances, the students vowed to continue to their strike as insourcing had not yet been sorted out.
The Daily Vox contacted Nsfas for comment. This story will be updated once comment has been received.
Featured image via Twitter.
Author’s Note: This story has been updated with the latest developments.