Hungry students get help

2016-04-27 06:00
TOUGH TALK: The MEC for Social Development, Sisi Ntombela, addresses 58 destitute students, encouraging them to restore their dignity in the midst of pre-valent hunger. From the left are Ntombela, Caswell Sita (first year Political Science student), Seipati Mokoena (second-year BCom Accounting) and Relebohile Mokhoro (businesswoman).  Photo: Teboho Setena

TOUGH TALK: The MEC for Social Development, Sisi Ntombela, addresses 58 destitute students, encouraging them to restore their dignity in the midst of pre-valent hunger. From the left are Ntombela, Caswell Sita (first year Political Science student), Seipati Mokoena (second-year BCom Accounting) and Relebohile Mokhoro (businesswoman). Photo: Teboho Setena

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THE increasing prevalence of hunger amongst university and college students in Bloemfontein and elsewhere in the Free State, has several students resorting to prostitution, drug dealing and alcohol abuse for survival.

The Free State MEC for Social Development, Sisi Ntombela, said findings by her department had made it clear that the practice was common amongst students enrolled and those seeking to enrol at institutions.

She revealed this when donating food hampers to 58 destitute students in Bloemfontein on Friday 15 April.

Ntombela said the food hampers were a temporary measure while a sustainable solution was being sought.

Included were students awaiting approval for applications for bursaries at the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and those that have qualified to receive financial aid.

Others are awaiting payments by certain departments of the Free State government.

Students told Express that funders covered tuition fees and books, but it excluded other expenses such as food and personal items.

In the light of this, successful and unsuccessful students find themselves in a predicament to “scavenge” for food to survive.

The students’ predicament became public through business woman Relebohile Mokhoro who revealed that most students had stayed over during the recent holidays because they had no cash to travel to their respective homes since arrival in January.

She said those who could not afford accommodation and food found refuge with their peers, staying together in groups of four to five, sharing bachelor’s or two-room apartments.

Some of the students are from the Eastern Cape and the North-West.

Ntombela said intervention in the case of the starving students had followed a plea by the premier, Ace Magashule. She said prevalent hunger due to insufficient funding and delay in payments had also increased cohabitation relationships among students, with female students dating senior men.

Ntombela said several students were prone to fall victim to numerous risks as they went days without food.

“You are risking your life, resorting to prostitution, alcohol abuse and dealing in drugs to make quick money. Many of you lose your dignity because you allow this to happen instead of seeking help.

“You left your respective homes, promising to study towards degrees or diplomas. Instead, you do the opposite.

“You must get your qualifications to restore your dignity,” she said. A tough-talking Ntombela strongly warned students that resorting to illegal deals lead to the loss of dignity.

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