The affordable education loan option
Johannesburg - The troubled Walter Sisulu University is financially and technically bankrupt and struggling to pay staff.
That’s according to Higher Education Director-General Gwebinkundla Qonde after his department’s assessment of the situation at the Eastern Cape institution, which announced its indefinite closure on Tuesday due to unrest on some of its campuses.
University administrator Lourens van Staden said this week that the violence made it impossible for management to risk or guarantee the safety and well-being of students.
Police had to fire rubber bullets to disperse protesting students at the Butterworth campus. The protests followed Tuesday’s announcement that the university was closing due to weeks of labour unrest.
Qonde on Thursday said the institution had been in a financial crisis for years.
He said the university’s overdraft facility increased from R147 million to R250m in order to meet its payroll commitments back in March 2011.
The situation was so bad at the institution that the “HR system collapsed, the financial system collapsed and the IT system collapsed”.
Qonde said over 20 staff members had been fired for wrongdoing, and the university’s administrator was also pursuing criminal charges against others.
The department has provided R858m in financial support over and above the normal grant subsidy allocation.
The ANC Youth League said it was “perturbed by the on-going crisis and the recent closure” by the appointed university administrator.
The DA has also sent a letter to higher education and training portfolio committee chairman Motswane Malale, requesting that the university’s woes be placed on the agenda for discussion in Parliament.