Invigilator at Unisa accused of racism

2011-05-24 00:00

AN invigilator at the Pietermaritzburg campus of the University of South Africa (Unisa) has been accused of racist behaviour in deciding which late students will be allowed into the examination hall.

The Witness understands that a substantial number of students have not written their exams, which are currently under way, because they were late. Some students claim to have been denied entry even before their exams were scheduled to start.

The students told The Witness yesterday that candidates are advised to be seated at least 15 minutes before the exam is due to start, in line with the rules printed on the exam timetable.

But the students said they were previously allowed to write exams even when arriving late.

“If they decide to implement the rules differently this year, what process was followed to communicate that to students?” asked Khanyisa Shandu.

Shandu said he was three minutes late for his exam after he was forced to find parking outside the university premises. Another student who arrived before him had travelled from Msinga and was also denied access.

Sibusiso Ngubane said he was allowed to write the same paper, despite being 30 minutes late. However, he claimed, he was denied access to the exam room for a different paper even though he was on time.

Nompumelo Mchunu said she was 15 minutes early for her exam. She claims to have been walking in front of two students of a different race and stopped for water. They were allowed in. She was not, even though she pleaded with the invigilator and pointed out that some students were not yet seated.

The president of the student representative council (SRC) on the campus, Mlondi Mbhense, told The Witness that many students stand to lose government funding because of the invigilator’s decision. He said the people at the greatest disadvantage are those from faraway towns such as Bul­wer, Msinga, Creighton and Ixopo.

Mbhense claims to have witnessed this happening to two students who arrived five minutes before their exam. Although their watches all showed the same time, the invigilator insisted her time was different.

Some students claim to have been told by the invigilator to buy a sick note from a doctor, which would ensure that they write the paper without having to re-register, while others say they witnessed students of other racial groups being allowed in.

Doreen Gough, Unisa’s national spokesperson, said the rules have not changed.

“No rules were implemented differently this year. Students walking in late disrupt the proceedings and it is unfair to other students who have taken their examinations seriously and arrived timeously,” said Gough.

In a written response to the SRC, regional director Magnate Ntombela said the ruling to bar students from the examination hall after the stipulated time was a decision by the council that it cannot alter.

But he added that the university is investigating the allegations.

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