Pretoria - Students at the trouble-torn Tshwane North Further Education and Training College in Soshanguve went on the rampage on Wednesday over “unpaid” transport and meal allowances, blockading access roads and making bonfires outside the main gate.
Last year, the students caused hundreds of thousands of rand in damage on the campus when the national student fund delayed paying their tuition fees.
They decided to stay away from classes on their return this week from the Easter break.
“They told us they had transferred the money and we would have it when we came back (from Easter), but it’s not in our accounts,” student representative council chairman Rio Mondlane said.
Lecturers and other college staff did not come in on Wednesday.
They turned away when they realised there were problems on Tuesday.
Mondlane said the students had met management at the central office in Pretoria last Thursday, where they were assured that payments had been made.
“No one has received the money, which means they have no intention of ensuring that we get educated,” he said.
The students claimed to be owed money from the second semester last year, and said class attendance was greatly affected.
“We are owed in the region of R7 500 a student, which means those using public transport are unable to attend regularly,” Mondlane said.
Those who lived on campus attended classes on empty stomachs, he added.
At the main gate one protesting student said they would not be voting in the May 7 national elections because the ANC was not making it worth their while.
The college is earmarked for use as a polling station.
Students vowed on Wednesday they would make sure no one voted there.
“They are failing to ensure that it runs for the cause it is intended for – why must others use it then?” said one.
Students said they could sometimes attend classes twice a week if they “borrowed” money from their parents, but then they would not be able to eat during the day.
The campus has long had problems, with students occasionally running amok and damaging facilities and equipment.
At the end of last year, they damaged windows, doors, computers and other school equipment over the non-payment of tuition fees. They they have often been locked out by the administration.
The student leadership locked residences on Wednesday morning “to protect student property in the absence of security personnel”, Mondlane said.
With security off campus, the student leadership was responsible for students’ property, he said. This was why they had blockaded the road with large stones.
“That will deter anyone trying to gain access for mischievous reasons.”
The administration – expected to come to the campus on Wednesday – could make their way around the obstacles if they wanted the matter resolved, Mondlane said.
Although the college’s administration was unable to provide official comment, one member said the allowances had been paid.
“They have other reasons for making the college ungovernable,” said an official, who refused to give his name.
The Department of Higher Education and Training had not responded to questions by late Wednesday.