Durban — Frustrated Durban University of Technology (DUT) students allegedly shut down campuses over unpaid allowances by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) on Thursday.
The DUT Student Representative Committee (SRC) will be part of the DUT Executive Management and Senex meeting, on Friday that will explore ways to deal with the current issues. Once a way forward has been established, the DUT community will be updated using official communication platforms such as the DUT website.
The academic programme at DUT has not been suspended.
Students allegedly set alight tyres and threw them across Steve Biko Road. The road was also strewn with bricks and domestic refuse. DUT SRC chairperson Siyanda Mpotshana said the protest will continue until students are paid. He said at the beginning of this week students were supposed to receive their allowances through the new NSFAS payment system, eZaga, but it never happened.
Mpotshana added that unpaid allowances were not the only issue that they were protesting over. Among other issues were students being chased away after being defunded because of eZaga, unconducive residences, and problems with wi-fi on campuses, including libraries.
“Today we made a decision that we can’t allow operations on campus to continue while students are hungry. No one can excel academically while they are hungry. That is what led to this protest. We will continue to close down all four Durban campuses until all our issues are heard and students are paid their allowances,” said Mpotshana.
Mpotshana added: “Only to be paid R3s and R4s instead of R1 650. Some received R650, even those who were fortunate enough to receive the full amount. They cannot spend their money on shops for food, because these cards are declining while the balance is available,” said Mpotshana.
According to Mpotshana, they have been trying to engage with DUT authorities, but all their issues were ignored. Last month they had a meeting with DUT authorities and sent a memorandum which was received by DUT Dean of Students Dr Clement Moreku.
“The response we received does not clarify issues on the memorandum that we have submitted. We have been blue ticked. No one is attending to our issues. We are frustrated,” said Mpotshana.
He said the protest was peaceful, and no one was arrested. Police were on the scene to calm the situation.
DUT spokesperson Alan Khan said the DUT SRC was not part of the mass action that took place on Thursday. Neither have they suspended classes. Khan said some classes were disrupted by the protesters. Khan said as the official representative for students, the SRC has been engaging with DUT management and working around the clock to find solutions to the current issues relating to the eZaga payment system.
“Unfortunately the system is not managed by DUT, but the university has raised all concerns raised by students with NSFAS and awaits its feedback. The university engages with the SRC timeously to provide updates and find solutions to student issues,” Khan said.
Khan added that the university can confirm that only the issue of eZaga was brought to its attention as the primary cause of the mass action by the alleged students.
The SRC was, however, not part of this mass action. DUT is only aware of a memorandum that was issued on Wednesday, July 19, to the dean of students where the SRC was present as well.
eThekwini Fire divisional commander Sifiso Mtshali said they had to wait for the protest to phase out before extinguishing the fire and clearing the debris from the road. Mtshali said there were no injuries or damages to property reported on the scene.
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