GEORGE NEWS & VIDEO - Students of the TVET South Cape College George Campus had Georgians on tenterhooks over the past three days as their initially peaceful protest heated up, leading to the barricading of Courtenay Street, a main artery in George, and clashes with police during which stun grenades were used.
The students were angry and frustrated about not receiving their NSFAS bursary grants and, more specifically, about not getting proper communication from the campus administration.
Yesterday a student was run over by a frustrated driver who drove on through the throng despite being asked by traffic officials to stop and turn around. This was the second instance of a student being injured during the protest.
A female student was injured on Tuesday when the police used stun grenades at the campus to disperse the rowdy crowd.
Student representatives of the campus SRC told George Herald yesterday, Wednesday 19 February, that this type of action seems to be the only way to get the attention of the campus head. They were dumping rubbish in Courtenay Street.
Fezile Tapu, a student representative, said the protest has been going on for seven days, if the weekend were included. "We've had enough of explanations that are untrue from the campus head. We need our money to pay rent, buy food and get to campus."
Zintle Manjani, the spokesperson for the student council of representatives (SRC), said the situation could have been prevented if the college would only speak to them and provide "real answers" with regards to their bursary money.
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Manjani and SRC chair, Apelele Tshoko, have been trying to get answers from the college head, Elsie Potgieter. They spent almost the whole of Monday at the head office in Mitchell Street waiting for good news.
"They asked us for a list of students who have not yet been paid and those who were. We were told that about 1 012 students were already paid," Manjani told George Herald.
The representatives have been trying to keep students calm by keeping them updated as information became available. Students' frustration however got the better of them on both Tuesday and Wednesday.
Potgieter said they were provided with a list of 330 names of students who still have to be paid. "The status of the bursaries was checked, and of the 330 enquiries, 205 applications were still being processed or were not yet approved, 33 were approved by 12 February and paid on 13 February (the cut-off date), 11 were rejected because of incorrect banking details, 67 applications were approved after cut-off date and will be part of the next payout, and 25 students registered at the college must still apply for bursaries."
She urgently requested students to return to classes until the NSFAS process is completed. Potgieter said that bursaries approved after cut-off date will be paid with the second payment.
She stressed that the college does not receive the approved list of students from NSFAS at the same time as the students receive their confirmation SMSes. It should also be noted that only approved bursaries will be paid, and that students who fail to get 80% attendance rate will not receive their allowances.
TVET college students who are upset about not receiving their NSFAS allowances in time, have been protesting at campuses across the Southern Cape throughout this week.
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Southern Cape police spokesperson, Captain Malcolm Pojie, denied rumours that a police officer lost his service firearm in the commotion on Tuesday, and that police officials were seen desperately looking for the lost weapon.
"These are just allegations that have been made. As far as my knowledge goes, all the members' firearms are intact and all the firearms are accounted for at this stage," said Pojie.