While most citizens relied on the department of justice and constitutional development for protection of their rights, students under the department’s learnership programme felt it was an “injustice” that they had not received their promised stipend in months.
Being unemployed with only a matric certificate to their names, the students said they had hope for a better future when they enrolled in a 12-month paralegal learnership with the department.
The learnership, based at the department’s Pretoria offices, included a monthly stipend of R4000 and an accredited certificate at the end of the programme.
But two out of the five students left the programme yesterday without receiving their two-month outstanding stipend. They two also did not receive the training to receive their certificates. The young hopefuls, who wished to remain anonymous, said they were instead left unemployed and in debt.
Speaking to The Citizen, the students said they joined the learnership programme in June last year under the department and Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority (Sasseta), but did not receive their stipend for the first two months.
“It was only in the third month that we started receiving our pay. But they did not pay out the outstanding amount. Then in March this year, they stopped paying us again and now the programme has come to an end.
“When we enquired about our pay, they told us the person responsible for approving our stipends at Sasseta was suspended. This is an injustice,” said one of the students.
The students further stated that they only completed two of the six prescribed modules at the department’s Justice College, as they were told the college was restructuring its study guide and was short of lecturers.
“Now we have left and we might not get the money due to us. We might not even get a chance to get our certificates as the programme is finished.”
Justice department spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga told The Citizen that Sasseta was still in the process of paying the students, and that arrangements were made for the two to be accommodated at the Justice College.
“The learners will be informed timeously on when the classes are to start at Justice College.”
On other students having outstanding stipends due to them, Mhaga said: “Before payment is made, documents must be submitted to the Sasseta Administrator. In this case, the department submitted the documents to the old administrator, unaware that Sasseta appointed a new administrator. However, the matter is being addressed.”
Sasseta’s Marketing Manager Isabel Bowden said they would investigate the matter and respond on Monday.