The 25 interns in Services Seta’s 18-month experiential learnership programme at the Dr JS Moroka District Hospital in Thaba Nchu are caught between a rock and a hard place.This follows failure by Services Seta to pay them stipend since their placement in April last year. The interns were placed through the Olebogeng Barolong Manufacturing Cooperative (OBMC) recruitment entity, which has an agreement with Services Seta for on-the-job experiential learnership training. In terms of the agreement, Service Seta will pay a monthly stipend of R3 000 to each intern as part of the training to gain the much-needed work experience. Approximately R1 637 500 has been allocated to this programme to enable the students to complete their National Diploma (N6). Upon inquiring why Services Seta has not paid the interns, senior manager Duduzile Mwelase told Express the payment was delayed because the recruitment entity started the project without due compliance. Later Mwelase confirmed that the recruitment cooperative did provide the necessary documents, making it compliant. He said the interns would be paid by December last year. Mwelase confirmed the entity’s legitimate contract with Services Seta, stipulating that the stipend per learner is R3 000.Despite claiming that the saga is resolved, Services Seta is yet to pay the interns.The interns voiced their frustrations of waiting in vain for payment. They told Express their appeals to Services Seta have fallen on deaf ears, claiming that they were being sent from pillar to post by the different officials working for Services Seta. Unable to cope with the frustration, six interns have decided to quit the programme. “Non-payment has affected us badly. Most of us are from poor backgrounds. I have lost faith in Services Seta – it has failed us,” said one intern.Responding to questions regarding the debacle of the unpaid stipend, Alice Phirime, co-director of the OBMC, has blamed Services Seta. “We have done all that is necessary. The learner profiles have been uploaded on their system, and bank accounts have been opened, just as Services Seta had advised,” she said.“We are just as frustrated as the learners. We know that the lack of payment from Services Seta puts a lot of strain on the relationship.” At the time of going to print, Services Seta had not given comment.