KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane told students at the Gamalakhe TVET College on Saturday that a Higher Education Representative was going to tend to their grievances. Picture: Theo Jeptha/African News Agency (ANA)
KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane told students at the Gamalakhe TVET College on Saturday that a Higher Education Representative was going to tend to their grievances. Picture: Theo Jeptha/African News Agency (ANA)

Gungubele interrupted by students over poor campus conditions

By Jehran Naidoo Time of article published Nov 13, 2021

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DURBAN - What started out as a vaccine drive to ramp up vaccination numbers in the Port Shepstone area by members of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government and Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele on Saturday, was taken over by students at the Gamalakhe TVET College who opted to air their grievances about conditions at the institution.

KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane and Social Development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza joined Gungubele at the TVET college in urging students to vaccinate in order to protect themselves and their families, but students were having none of it, as issues such as access to water and sanitation and constant power cuts were of greater concern to them.

Both Simelane and Gungubele eased the tensions and asked regional manager Sipho Nzimande from the Department of Higher Education in KZN to listen to their complaints.

“You have changed our programme but we have allowed you to change our programme, because as the student president was speaking we picked up on issues that you want to give to us. So I agreed with the minister that we will give you this opportunity to hear you and provide solutions where we can,” Simelane said.

“Mr Nzimande is responsible for higher education in the province. Now he is the one person over and above myself and the minister who can actually provide you with answers. Remember we are from the health portfolio. If you have issues with your clinic and so on, I am the person for that,” she said.

Nzimande said the department did not receive any of the complaints that students laid bare before the provincial government, but said a meeting would be set up with members of the Student Representative Council and the Department of Higher Education to try to find solutions.

“As a way forward, I would like to suggest that I have enough time to spend here, even after this event, to listen to your grievances. May I suggest that after this I see the SRC, including those expressing concerns on the floor so that we can sit down and try to come up with solutions,” Nzimande said.

Gungubele said the issues raised by students were genuine, as no student should have to focus on issues such as clean toilets, access to water and power cuts while preparing for an exam. He said he did not want to come back to the college and find that the issues had not been dealt with.

Azola Jezile, a student who raised concerns about conditions at the campus, said: “In a period of about two months, there has been no water. During exams there are students that were unable to finish their exams because of load shedding. Please, please, we need generators so that we can continue with our studies. We have got two water pumps at school that do nothing. We need an investigation on that and we need answers.”

When the dust settled, the vaccination programme got back underway, and Simelane warned students about misinformation being spread over social media, and how it affected the country’s vaccination drive.

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Political Bureau

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