UJ to pay tuition fees of stampede victim’s son

2012-01-11 14:21

The University of Johannesburg will pay the tuition fees of the man whose mother died there in a stampede.

“Although nothing can replace the 19-year-old prospective student’s mother, UJ has offered to waive tuition for his choice of study at UJ, should he adhere to the programme choice’s admission criteria,” said registrar Prof Marie Muller.

The university community was deeply saddened by the events at its Auckland Park Bunting road campus yesterday, she said.

“Our condolences to her family and friends and our thoughts go to the other applicants who were injured during the course of the morning’s events.”

Gloria Sekwena was killed and at least 20 people were injured – three of them critically – in a stampede at the university’s gates. She had been accompanying her son Kgositsile to see him through the applications process.

All but one of the injured had been discharged from hospitals in Johannesburg today.

The person still in hospital was transferred from Milpark Hospital to 1 Military Hospital in Tshwane and was to be visited by Muller and University vice-chancellor Ihron Rensburg on Wednesday.

They would then visit Sekwena’s family with Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande.

Security authorities had their hands full today monitoring access to the university.

People gathered outside the gates were allowed in only if they had their conditional application documentation.

One angry mother shouted when they would not let her in, saying she had left the paperwork at home.

“I came here since Friday, but could not get in. But now you are also refusing me entry. You are treating us like dogs,” said Colleen Jacobs.

She complained that she would now have to take more time off work to get her son into college.

Prospective student Bafana Gumede was still hoping for a chance to be allowed in, but said he realised he might have to look for something else.

“I will never ever come to the institution again – the congestion, overcrowding here will probably make it impossible for me to enjoy my studies,” he said.

The Pan Africanist Youth Congress called for Nzimande’s resignation today: “We call on the minister to do the honourable thing and resign his position.

“He has proven not once but too many times that he is unable to fulfil his duties.”

The congress predicted that others would die “through police brutality” when students started protesting against financial institutions next month.

The organisation blamed the ANC government for what it called the “shambles” in education, specifically for black children, and said Nzimande was out of touch.

The university closed late applications after the incident yesterday and said it would process only the 17 500 conditional applications it granted last year.

These were based on applications made in 2011 and which were subject to matric results and available space.

There have been 7 000 late applications submitted to the university since Monday.

Last year, it received 85 300 applications for study in 2012. It has 11 000 places for first year undergraduate studies.

Nzimande said the government was considering ending the late application practice and planned to roll out a centralised applications system, already being used in KwaZulu-Natal.

There were also plans to build another two universities in Mpumalanga.

In a statement earlier today, the government called for a full investigation into the incident.

“The improvements in matric pass rates... should be cause for celebration, not tragedy... This is an unfortunate incident which we hope will be fully investigated,” it said.

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