UNISA students in uproar over NSFAS funds

Protesters close roads in Pietermaritzburg

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Photo of protesters
UNISA students blockaded Langalibalele Street in Pietermaritzburg in protest over NSFAS funds on Monday. Protests continued on Tuesday. Photo: Nompendulo Ngubane

On Tuesday, UNISA students continued to protest in Pietermaritzburg. On Monday they blockaded Langalibalele Street with old bins and burning garbage. Monday was the last day for registration for the second semester and students are angry over delayed payments by the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), and a shortage of resources and staff at UNISA (University of South Africa).

Deputy secretary of UNISA’s KwaZulu-Natal SRC, Khetha Mthethwa, said, “We gave them [university] the memorandum two weeks ago … The response we received was to wait … There has been no registration or payments. Other students have not been paid since last year. The university is telling us to wait. We cannot wait any longer now,” said Mthethwa.

“I have no money to buy books,” said Nontobeko Mbonambi. “This university has a lot of issues. As the students we are not happy about almost everything. The management doesn’t care at all. There is a shortage of staff that is degrading the university. We suffer with basic resources inside the campus. It is such a shame. We are prepared to take the protest as far as Pretoria.”

Mthethwa said there are students who have not received their examination results. “We want students registered and given their results. Even if it means being violent to a system that is violent towards us. No administrative or academic duties will happen within the regional offices of UNISA until students’ demands are met. We promise a total shutdown from now on. Students are calling for an extension date of registration and payments to accommodate all affected students,” said Mthethwa.

South African Students Congress (SASCO) member Sihle Khwela said, “Students are prepared to fight for their rights. We can no longer settle for less. Enough is enough.”

Comment had not yet been received from UNISA or NSFAS at the time of publication.

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TOPICS:  Tertiary Education

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