Lethiwe Makhanya
Journalist
4 minute read
14 Apr 2021
06:38

Update | Stranded Msunduzi TVET students sleep at campus gates

Lethiwe Makhanya

Msunduzi TVET students were left stranded on Monday night and had to sleep outside the campus gates after their landlords kicked them out for failing to pay rent since the beginning of the year.

Msunduzi TVET students were left stranded on Monday night and had to sleep outside the campus gates after their landlords kicked them out for failing to pay rent since the beginning of the year.

Over 40 students — some from as far as Mpangeni, Eastern Cape and Newcastle — said that they could not pay their landlords because they have not received their allowances from National Student Financial Aid System (NSFAS).

The group only had five mattresses between them and the food they had was donated by people who felt sorry for them. They said they have nowhere to stay, sleep or even bath because they do not have any money.

Lungani Dlamini said they decided to sleep outside the campus and had hoped that the college’s management was going to allow them inside to use the lecture rooms since they explained their situation, but that did not happen. “Our landlords are tired now because we are not paying them and they also have bills to pay like water and electricity.

“As male students we had to take turns in guarding the female students who were sleeping because we knew it was not safe. Even today (yesterday) we don’t know where we are going to sleep.”
Lungani Dlamini, affected student

“NSFAS has not paid us. When we ask them why they say that our applications were submitted late by the college and that is why we have not been paid,” said Dlamini.

He said spending the night outside the campus was a horrible experience.

“As male students we had to take turns in guarding the female students who were sleeping because we knew it was not safe. Even today (yesterday) we don’t know where we are going to sleep,” he said.

Student Representative Council (SRC) president at Msunduzi campus, Sthembile Kunene, told The Witness that normally the students got their allowances shortly after they start their academic year but that did not happen this year.

“This is so painful to see students sleep on the streets because they want education. We were told that the students could not be allowed to spend the night inside the campus. The students didn’t even have the sponges to sleep on.”
SRC president at Msunduzi campus, Sthembile Kunene

She said after students were kicked out by the landlords the SRC tried to speak to the campus management to explain their situation and ask for them to be allowed to sleep inside the campus but management refused.

“This is so painful to see students sleep on the streets because they want education. We were told that the students could not be allowed to spend the night inside the campus. The students didn’t even have the sponges to sleep on,” she said.

When The Witness visited the campus on Tuesday morning, other students were still sleeping and other were singing and chanting protest songs. They vowed to close the campus until their demands were met and they have a place to stay.

“Now there is nothing that we can do. We can not go to the landlords and promise them that we are going to pay.”
College principal, Ntombi Ntshangase

College principal, Ntombi Ntshangase, said she is aware of the situation and felt sorry for the students but the management’s hands were tied as there was nothing they could do to help.

“We understand that their problem is that NSFAS has not paid them. The problem that we have is that the system has changed now, NSFAS communicates directly with students and the money gets deposited direct to student’s (bank) account, whereas before the money was being deposited to the college.”

“That made things easier for us because if NSFAS was late with payments we were able to take money from the college account and pay the landlords and deduct it once NSFAS has made payments.”

Ntshangase said the college now only assisted students with applications but after that everything was between a student and NSFAS.

“Now there is nothing that we can do. We can not go to the landlords and promise them that we are going to pay.

“We could not allow them to sleep there because there are no blankets and bathrooms for them to bath.”
Ntombi Ntshangase

“We can not use the college money because we will never get it back because NSFAS is now paying students direct,” she said.

Ntshangase confirmed that the students asked to them to sleep in the campus hall but the request was refused.

“We could not allow them to sleep there because there are no blankets and bathrooms for them to bath.

Ntshangase said the lectures were continuing as normal on other campuses around Pietermaritzburg.

NSFAS did not respond to questions sent to them.