18 February 2019
The Umlazi campus of the Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) was closed after protesting students shut down the campus on Monday morning.
Students blockaded the gates to demand fee concessions, a reversal of a fee increment, and that the library and clinic stay open 24-hours a day.
According to KwaZulu-Natal’s police spokesperson, Captain Nqobile Gwala, six students have been arrested for public violence.
“No classes will resume until we are heard. We cannot allow for students to attend classes when they are hungry, with no accommodation or books,” said Cyril Gwala, MUT SRC president.
Student Nomfundo Shabalala, 19, said, “It has been five weeks since MUT has opened. I depend solely on the allowance from NSFAS because my parents cannot afford to provide for my studies. I have no food and no books for the year, yet I am expected to show up in class. It is not fair. Today we’re here to send a loud message so that they can take our concerns seriously.”
Senior Director of Marketing and Communications for MUT, Mbali Mkhize, said the university management was shocked by the protest but was willing to listen to the students. Friday was the last day to register, but Mbali said this will be extended for students who have not received NSFAS payments.
“The university’s records show that 7,022 students have been paid their allowances and learning material. Only 46 students had wrong account [details] and their issue is being resolved. The SRC has indicated that there are more payments still outstanding. Executive management has requested the SRC to produce the evidence which they claim to have,” said Mkhize.
Thembelihle Hlabisa, 19, a third-year student in Public Administration, said, “We are a family of 16 at home and we all depend on my grandmother’s pension money to survive. I was able to lend a helping hand from the [NSFAS] allowance I receive monthly. It’s not only myself that suffers but a whole chain of people who are depending on government.”
“Many students here come from poverty stricken households who often have no families to assist them. In fact they even use this money to help out at home. Until these issues are resolved there will be no classes,” said Hlabisa.