Pietermaritzburg college campuses shut down

Students evicted after NSFAS fails to pay accommodation fees

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Photo of protesters
Students bang on the gates of the central campus offices of Umgungundlovu Tvet College in Pietermaritzburg, demanding that principal Ntombi Ntshangase come out and address them. Photo: Nompendulo Ngubane

“We want our money!” students demanded at Msunduzi campus of Umgungundlovu TVET College in Pietermaritzburg. Last week, students barricaded Burger Street with rocks and burning tyres, demanding that the college pay their accommodation fees from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). The issue has lead to the closure of all the Pietermaritzburg campuses. On Monday morning, students marched to the central administrative offices.

About 30 students said they have been evicted from Ikhaya boarding house on Friday. They said the college had not paid the landlord their accommodation fees since last year. The students come from Msinga, Nquthu, Ixopo, Richmond and Umkhambathini.

“We don’t have any place to go,” said a business student. “On Monday we were evicted and taken to some dodgy hostel. There were no beds. We slept on the floor. The landlord said he cannot accommodate us anymore. The college has not paid him since last year.”

“I’m from Msinga and it’s far [145km]. Since last week we have been having problems. The college management does not care … Instead the principal, Ntombi Ntshangase, is running away from us … We are stranded and we have no place to stay,” said the student.

President of the student representative council, Cleo Ntombela, told GroundUp they had met with the college management on Tuesday and Thursday. “It transpired at the meeting that they used the money for tuition fees in 2017,” said Ntombela.

But Ntshangase said it was not true that the money was paid and used by the college. She said, “All campuses were paid late. We know that there are some students without accommodation. It’s not the college’s fault for the delay. We are waiting for NSFAS to approve their bursaries. Once their bursaries have been approved, students will be paid. We are not to blame. They will have to wait for the approval.”

Ntombela said, “Students were told to wait … [But] they have been evicted from the boarding house. As we speak they are stranded. They have no one here. How long are they expected to wait?”

A student from Ixopo, who had been evicted from Ikhaya, said college management were supposed to have a meeting with the landlord. “They have not met with him. We have been evicted. We came here to study. They are not helping us. Where do we go from here? We have no relatives. Our homes are far from here. What do we tell our parents at home?”

“They [management] don’t care about our education. We need this money to pay for our accommodation. Currently, we are not studying. This is our future,” said the student.

Protesting students have vowed not to leave the administrative offices until they are answered.

GroundUp has tried since last week to get comment from NSFAS. Emails, messages and phone calls have gone unanswered.

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TOPICS:  Tertiary Education

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