DURBAN - South African students funded by the Ace Magashule Foundation and the Tumahole Legacy Foundation have rejected claims they were left stranded in various institutions in Turkey.
Among other students interviewed by the Daily News, a Magashule foundation beneficiary Mbulelo Bhikitsha, an Honours public relations and advertising student at the Medipol University in Turkey, said those who were spreading lies appeared to be running a disinformation campaign aimed at discrediting the suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and the foundations.
“It is pure lies that we were left stranded by Magashule or the foundation itself. No student was left hanging as some articles purported. You will remember that the Covid-19 affected a lot of businesses including those that were funding us, resulting in most of our funders/donors facing financial restrictions.”
Bhikitsha said they were contacted and informed the foundation had been facing serious challenges since the beginning of lockdown and some things had to be cut back.
“Some of us came back because of fear of Covid-19. Those who remained in Turkey had their accommodation paid for and were all taken care of. We don't all go to the same universities; however, nobody slept in the streets, and people were provided accommodation even when there were challenges with funding.
“The reports that students are not attending due to monies owed are false; 80% of students are attending and those that are not back at school was because of late registration, which has since been resolved as arrangements were made with the respective universities to enrol at the beginning of the semester in February.”
Bhikitsha mentioned minor challenges would always be there; however, all the basics were taken care of.
“We commend the foundation for having made sure that all is well. There are no major distractions to our studies or our physical being. There's been a lot of exaggeration that has been made. And we strongly believe that those responsible for spreading lies will be exposed.”
Contacted for comment, secretary of the Tumahole Legacy Foundation, Lindi Molibeli, said it was disappointing to see journalism turn into a political tool used to destroy the organisation.
She said that as an organisation, they were motivated by the objective to give a chance to young promising people who would help build a desirable society.
“With the help of many organisations, funders and donors, we continue bringing hope to young people. It is really important to clarify that the reported R25 million allegedly owed by Magashule is a lie. Magashule is just an ordinary member who, like many of us, contributes to this initiative. We do not appreciate being used as bait by people who are fighting their own political battles.”
Molibeli said the foundation would continue supporting the students and ensure that they receive their stipend accordingly.
Magashule said he had no time for “Mickey Mouse games” trying to discredit his efforts in helping a black child realise his dreams.
“My priority is to continue doing my best to empower ordinary South Africans. Those who have issues with that must visit their nearest psychiatrist.”