GEORGE NEWS - South Cape College students say they have been rather patient with college management ever since they rallied to make their voices heard by protesting.
"Our request was very clear from the beginning; pay all funded NSFAS students their designated amounts respectively," said SRC chairman Olwethu Xawuka on Monday 15 March.
Students at the George campus joined the national shutdown protest called by the South African Union of Students (SAUS) on Monday, with their focus firmly on the local agenda - the lack of NSFAS grant payouts.
Xawuka told George Herald that the college acting principal, Dr Terblanche, issued a circular on 14 March stating that NSFAS has paid a lump sum into the college's bank account for student allowances and that payments would be made to students by the 15th. He also claimed that they were promised that the money would reflect in the students' bank accounts between 18:00 and 20:00 on Monday.
"Unfortunately no student was paid today and thus the legitimacy of the finance department of the college is becoming quite questionable," said Xawuka.
The circular by Terblanche announced "with great relief" that NSFAS disbursed additional funds on Saturday 13 March into the college's bank account for student allowances.
"We are still awaiting the Remittance List (list of NSFAS-funded student names and amounts linked to each individual student) that NSFAS will hopefully issue on Monday, 15 March ... The College Finance staff will commence with processing of payments of allowances into the student bank accounts as from Monday, 15 March 2021 (or as soon as the Remittance List is issued by NSFAS)."
[Actual highlighting in the circular.] The circular stated that allowances would be available on Wednesday at the latest.
He apologised to all affected students, parents and host parents for any inconvenience caused by these delays and committed on behalf of college management and staff to continuously address all outstanding student bursaries with NSFAS. He appealed to the SRC and students to return to classes so that teaching and learning can resume at the latest by Tuesday.
Not municipality's mandate
Based on this, Xawuka said the students felt that the college has failed to provide food and shelter for its registered students. He said landlords have been evicting students since late February and they have brought this to the attention of the college's management but were apparently told the college doesn't have a plan.
"We have even approached the mayor and he confidently told us his office doesn't deal with charity. We find it very disturbing for a public servant to tell public civilians (more especially students) that there is nothing he can do to help. We thought a mayor is the father of the town."
George municipal spokesperson Chantel Edwards-Klose commented on behalf of the mayor's office, confirming that the students did in fact talk to their portfolio councillor for Community Services, Sean Snyman, who represented the mayor as he was otherwise engaged at the time.
"Cllr Snyman referred the students to the provincial Department of Education. He correctly indicated that a municipality has service delivery as its core mandate and for that reason the municipality is unable to assist with matters relating to education."
Department of Higher Education
The students say their fight is not just with the conduct of South Cape TVET College, but also with the Department of Higher Education and Training. "We are products of the working class, our parents cannot afford to pay for tertiary fees, that is the reason why we have applied for NSFAS."
Apart from their internal issues with South Cape TVET College, Xawuka says, they have answered the call from national leadership to shut down all higher learning institutions until the Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, answers the following demands: scrapping of historical debt, free registration, no financial exclusion, no academic exclusion, provision of laptops and data, increased enrollment and increased government budget for higher education.
"We have agreed to join forces and we will not be backing down. No deserving student must be financially and academically excluded. Young people ought to unite for the benefit of a common purpose. No force on this earth has the power to stop an idea whose time has come."
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