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By Malibongwe Dayimani

Premium Journalist

AbaThembu king comes to rescue: Dalindyebo feeds hungry students amid Nsfas chaos

Dalindyebo slaughtered an ox and a sheep to feed hungry students at a TVET college in the Eastern Cape

As the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) funding chaos has left thousands of students across the country’s 26 universities and 50 TVET colleges without food, AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo this week slaughtered an ox and a sheep to feed hungry King Sabata Dalindyebo TVET College students, who have not received their funds from Nsfas three months on.

The livestock donation, came days after angry students clashed with Public Order Police for three days last week during violent protests outside the college’s Cicirha campus gates over the funding cuts.

Violent clashes between students and police

At least five of the 200-strong protesting students reportedly suffered injuries.

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The public college was named in honour of Dalindybeo’s father – King Sabata Dalindyebo.

Pictures of the cow being slaughtered infront of excited students at Dalindyebo’s Nkululekweni residence in Mthatha surfaced on social media on Monday.

Queen Nokwanda Dalindyebo confirmed to The Citizen the donation of the livestock but promised the Kingdom would issue a statement at a later stage.

Students accused Nsfas of starving them for three months

The students are entitled to receive R1 500 every month since the beginning of the year to buy food.

However, some told The Citizen of how they were going to lectures on empty stomachs for the past three months.

For years Nsfas has been grappling with a long-standing problem of unreliable and interrupted distribution of funds which often sparked chaotic student protests that brought the higher education system to its knees.

Fed up by this recurring problem, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Professor Blade Nzimande dissolved the Nsfas board last week and appointed Sithembiso Nomvalo as the administrator to turn around the embattled entity.

Minister Nzimande disturbed by the recurring challenges

In a statement, Nzimande said he was aware of, and deeply disturbed by the “recurring” problem of non-payment of student allowances by the Nsfas.

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He said given the magnitude of the problem and its negative impact on the wellbeing of students and the continued functioning of the country’s post school education and training system, he has established a task team to address the crisis.

Nzimande blamed some TVET colleges and universities for causing the delays after “having not complied” with the Nsfas deadline for the submission of student registration data to facilitate the payment of allowances.

“The failure to comply by some TVET Colleges and Universities has contributed to the latest sporadic student protests,” Nzimande added. 

As part of addressing the non-compliance, Nzimande said: “Nsfas has sent its servicing administrators to work with the non-compliant TVET Colleges and Universities to finalise the submission of student registration data and ensure that the outstanding student allowances and tuition is paid in the next payment cycle.”

Students welcomed the dissolving of Nsfas board

On Tuesday, South African Technical Vocational Education and Training Student Association secretary general Wongani Mgwali told The Citizen the association acknowledges and welcomes Nzimande’s disbanding the Nsfas board.

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He added that on Wednesday the association will be meeting with the new Nsfas administrator to address all Nsfas related issues concerning TVET students.

Asked how can Nsfas address the funding distribution challenges, he said: “There is only one solution, and that solution is to use the banks to distribute allowances direct to students. We all have access to the banks, so whenever a student is facing issues, they will just visit any bank,” said Mgwali.

Fintech companies contracted by Nsfas to disburse money to students had been identified as a problem too.  

Mgwali added: “There are serious issues concerning payment of allowances across the country and this is not just a KSD or Eastern Cape matter, however we [are] happy that Nsfas has started to pay students as of 15 April 2024 and we hope that they will continue to pay all outstanding allowances before the end of this week.”

Students accommodated at private properties whose accommodation costs are covered by Nsfas, are also struggling to pay rent and are facing evictions, revealed Mgwali.

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