It's not nice to borrow money for food - Maties student

2015-11-17 14:50
Stellenbosch University protesters. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

Stellenbosch University protesters. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

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Cape Town - The reality of going hungry and the shame of borrowing money off friends hit home for some students at the Stellenbosch University, as cleaners and cooks have downed tools since Monday.

Students on Tuesday told of fear and anxiety as groups of workers stormed into the various residences, disrupting their studies and basically shutting down the library and student centre.

A second-year bachelor of commerce industrial psychology student returned empty-handed from the Neelsie student centre on Tuesday morning after it was closed down when striking workers lit fires outside the building.

He had gone there after borrowing money to buy food, because the meals on which he depended at the residence had been cancelled.

Bursary pays for res meals

Raised by a single mom after his father had died, the student said his mother could only afford to give him "R300 at the most" for living expenses. He depended on his National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) bursary for the balance.

The bursary also pays for his meals, but only if he ate at the residence.

"Now I don't have that option, because the service has been shut down because of the strike. It is not nice to borrow money from friends for food, but I also know I can't ask my mom for money," he said.

"All I have is my studies. Now that is also a maybe. The library was closed; about two weeks ago protesters stormed into the lecture hall and tore up study notes. They gained access by triggering the fire alarm, so the doors opened automatically."

The noisy disruptions also meant students have run out of places to study.

"I was very scared on Monday when the workers stormed our residence. First we heard the vuvuzelas; next singing people stormed inside and shouted abuse at us. Why are they targeting us when there is absolutely nothing we can do to help them?" the student said.

On Tuesday a student was allegedly attacked after trying to extinguish a fire started before the JH Marius statue on Rooi Plein in front of the student centre.

Four people were reportedly also arrested for arson after various fires were started around campus.

Exams won’t be affected

University spokesperson Martin Viljoen said they called in police assistance on Tuesday as the protests turned violent.

"The protesters are outsourced workers, so we are still not 100% sure of their demands."

He confirmed they had to close down certain buildings for safety reasons, but said the exams would not be affected.

"But we realise it is very difficult for students to study under these circumstances, because there is lots of noise and distractions. The university will monitor the situation and see where we can assist students, also with regards to the food situation," Viljoen said.

Read more on:    stellenbosch university  |  cape town  |  labour  |  education  |  university fees

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