Students from UKZN and Tvet College hold protests

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Tvet uMgungundlovu students say they are willing and committed to staging their sleep-in protest at the Tvet uMgungundlovu main campus on Burger Street, Pietermaritzburg, for as long as it takes for their demands to be met PHOTO: Moeketsi Mamane
Tvet uMgungundlovu students say they are willing and committed to staging their sleep-in protest at the Tvet uMgungundlovu main campus on Burger Street, Pietermaritzburg, for as long as it takes for their demands to be met PHOTO: Moeketsi Mamane

Close to 100 students gathered on the University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg’s main campus from 6 am on Wednesay to deliver a memorandum.

The students are protesting against the university’s push for online registration and learning and other grievances due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile Tvet uMgungundlovu students also continued with protest action on Wednesday.

They say they are committed to staging their sleep-in protest at the Tvet uMgungundlovu main campus on Burger Street for as long as it takes for their demands to be met.

They occupied the entrance of the campus for a third day in a row on Wednesday over transport and accommodation funding issues with the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas).

UKZN Pietermaritzburg campus representative secretary, Asomeleze Mgcwaba told The Witness students were against online registration and learning methods in particular as it was clearly evident this system could not work.

Students called for the university to open its doors and go back to “normal” as the campus had been operating before Covid-19.

Students also called for the suspension of all academic activities until their demands are met.

“The university is dragging its feet and we the student leaders have had to pick up their slack and try to do their jobs. We are tired of the runaround we have been given and are demanding that our memorandum, which we delivered to the university director, be enforced,” said Mgcwaba.

“Last year so many of our students were turned away even though they were financially cleared, due to the online registration process, and this year is no different. We are tired of this futile system and demand we be met with to discuss a better way forward,” said Mgcwaba.

He added that most students attending UKZN for the first time do not have access to internet as they come from lower ranking quintile schools.

Students called for the suspension of all academic activities until all students are registered and for higher education minister, Blade Nzimande, to address all the issues in their memorandum.

The Witness was refused entry to the campus by security but police could be seen patrolling the campus to ensure that the protest was peaceful as the students filled the main campus lawn.

Meanwhile the Tvet uMgungundlovu students vowed the carry on sleeping outside the campus grounds until their grievances are resolved.

Coordinator of the South African Student Congress (Sasco) uMgungundlovu region,Kwanele Mkhize, told The Witness students are without accommodation since being kicked out of the homes they occupied as they were unable to pay for rent due to no funding from Nsfas.

“We have nowhere to go since we have been kicked out by our landlords over payment issues that have been caused by Nsfas who have not paid some of our students for over a year now,” said Mkhize.

“Our transport money has also not been paid to us leaving many of our students who are currently engaged in trimester exams without transport to write these exams,” said Mkhize.

Since the sleep-in protest began, Mkhize says they have not received communication from the campus or Nsfas.

Students say they hungry and tired after braving the elements for three days now but are intent on not giving up until their allowances have been granted to all.

“Some of our students have received funding however that is a minority compared to the majority of people who are still without these allowances.”

“No matter how long we have to do this, we are committed to making this as peaceful as can be,” said Mkhize.

Mkhize said the students had been receiving some support from members of the public in the form of food and drinks since Monday.

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