Students protest over NSFAS

2018-02-14 06:00
Police monitor Langalibalele Street to make sure that the road is not blocked by the protesting students.PHOTO: lethiwe makhanya

Police monitor Langalibalele Street to make sure that the road is not blocked by the protesting students.PHOTO: lethiwe makhanya

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UNISA students have given the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) up until today to settle their academic fees for this year.

This is after NSFAS failed to arrive at a meeting with students at Unisa Pietermaritzburg campus last week Wednesday. Students then took to the streets in the form of a protest and brought Langalibalele Street to a standstill, barricading the road with dust bins and crates which they set alight. The students vowed that they will continue with the protest until NSFAS pays them.

However, South African Students Congress (Sasco) deputy secretary in KwaZulu-Natal Khetha Mthethwa, told Maritzburg Fever on Monday that NSFAS and Unisa have reached an agreement that all students who are registered with NSFAS will be allowed to register at the university even though NSFAS has not paid them as yet. “Even though this agreement has been reached, we are still not happy. We are very worried about the first-year students who are not even registered yet with Unisa. What will happen to them, because Unisa is still dealing with the old students? We are giving them [NSFAS] until Wednesday [today] to pay the students or else we will shut down all the campus again,” he said. Mthethwa said their protest last week was to pass the message to NSFAS and Unisa management.

“Enough is enough. We want to send a message to police officers to tell them to come and join us one day because it is their children who we are fighting for as well.

“They must not just come and shoot at us. They must first listen to our case. We know that the only time that our government or institution will take us seriously is when we strike,” he said.

During the protest last week, students complained that they have already received assignments that are due at the beginning of March and they do not have money to buy books. Pearl Ngcobo said she needs the money so that she can finish her work in time. “I need to buy the study material but how am I supposed to do that if they are not paying us? We want answers. What happened to the free education that we were promised?” she said.

Regional spokesperson for the university, Jo Cossavella, has not responded to Maritzburg Fever’s inquiry.

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