Embattled Mpumalanga NSFAS students are hungry and homeless

Students of the Ehlanzeni TVET college are forced to sleep at the Acornhoek Police Station, 13 March 2019. Image: Lowvelder

Students of the Ehlanzeni TVET college are forced to sleep at the Acornhoek Police Station, 13 March 2019. Image: Lowvelder

TVET students slept on the floor at the Campus’s admin block and the library on Monday evening.

Students from Mapulaneng TVET Campus were kicked out of their private residential areas by landlords who demanded their rent.

Mpumalanga News learnt that the students spent Sunday evening at the Acornhoek Police Station, where they slept on benches and floors.

NSFAS students sleeping in a police cell. Image: Lowvelder

“We ran for shelter to the police station for safety purposes and we were allowed to sleep there on Sunday,” they said.

Students slept on the floor at the Campus’s admin block and the library on Monday evening.

ALSO READ: NSFAS says assessments for 2019 applications completed

“We understand that this is a problem created by NSFAS, who transferred money to the college, and the college has not paid us. We have no accommodation, no food and haven’t taken a bath,” they said.

Image: Mpumalanga News

Tuesday night also saw one of the campus’ vehicles sprayed with white paint by the angry students. Some of the students pay rent ranging between R800 and R1,500 around Acornhoek. Some of them have not paid rent since January.

Lowvelder has reported on students that have been protesting over the past few months at the University of Mpumalanga, TVET colleges, and TUT.

Last Tuesday, students protested outside the TUT Mbombela campuses.

“Students are being evicted because NSFAS has not paid. The off-campus residences are not getting meal allowances due to the new circular six released by the department of higher education and training (DHET),” said one protester. Another mentioned that there were differences in amounts that first- and third-year NFSAS students had received, and a lack of accommodation.

Last week, a protest occurred in Waterval Boven because a young female student was allegedly raped. Many of her peers believed it would not have happened if she had received her grant to provide her with safe accommodation.

Another student from the Waterval Boven TVET College stated that they were asked to put in claim forms for their needs.

“We have not received any money for months. All they are covering is our college fees.”

Ehlanzeni TVET College marketing and communication spokesperson Mxolisi Nzimande stated that NSFAS had still not paid all the money due to the college for 2018 as NSFAS had serious challenges.

“NSFAS now has a new executive administrator and it seems as if it is going much better this year. We receive better communication and support and had received our first advance payment which was paid to students on February 15.”

He said the majority of their students qualified for a bursary, which meant almost 6,159 would qualify for a bursary if their household income was not more than
R350,000 per annum.

He stated that NSFAS was a non-refundable bursary and allowance. As long as the student remained at the college and attended 80% of their classes, they would get their allowances. If they failed, then they would not get a bursary and allowance the next year.

Mbombela accommodation providers for TUT College students told Lowvelder they had not received payment for the past three months. They also stated that the college paid them R3,000 per month per student. Out of this, they have to provide security, Wi-Fi, accommodation, and even toilet paper for the students. “We also are expected to give the college 3% for each child.”

Students sleep on the floor of the Mapulaneng TVET Campus. Image: Mpumalanga News

Last year, institutions used a service provider called FUNDI for students at TUT. FUNDI’s manager Jacques Nuus explained that their organisation would provide cards for books, accommodation and for transport. “We would then charge the shops or accommodation places on our list 3% to be on our list for the students to use.”

The money was allocated specifically for these things, and students could not use it for anything else.

“If you look at students, some will not be responsible with their money. This might lead to problems for them. Our card system forces them to be disciplined.”

TUT spokesperson Willa de Ruyter failed to comment at the time of going to press.

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