Picture: African News Agency (ANA)
Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

No smoking allowed at universities, colleges under Covid-19 rules

By Bongani Hans Time of article published Jun 19, 2020

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Durban - Smoking at universities and TVET Colleges will be prohibited for as long as the ban on the sale of cigarettes under the Covid-19 regulations is in place, higher education spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi said on Thursday.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande on Thursday visited the uMgungundlovu TVET College in Pietermaritzburg as part of his nationwide drive to check the state of readiness of institutions of higher learning to comply with the government's regulations to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Mnisi was responding to a question posed to Nzimande by students, about what would happen to students who were caught smoking on the premises of higher education institutions during the lockdown.

“There may be instances where students could be identified. Obviously law enforcement officers will be informed about such violations so that the law can take its course,” said Mnisi.

He reiterated that during the lockdown, the regulations applied firmly.

“This NCC (National Command Council) directive is a directive to all our institutions, and it is going to be part and parcel of what institutions will be doing to ensure that there is compliance,” said Mnisi.

During his visit, Nzimande said the government needed a heightened campaign against smoking and alcohol abuse within broader society.

He said Covid-19 had highlighted the need for individuals to stop smoking.

“It looks like the level of alcohol abuse in our society is also abnormally high,” he said.

“Beyond Covid-19, we may maintain the stringent measures but also accompany this with education.

“We need a huge, huge campaign against these two things (cigarettes and alcohol).

"But, we cannot win this campaign on our own. We will need to forge partnerships with communities,” said Nzimande.

He added that National Student Financial Aid Scheme students would have to wait for laptops as the National Treasury had warned his department not to take short cuts in purchasing them for learning purposes.

“In April (when he addressed the nation) I thought we could acquire these gadgets by waiving some of the standard Treasury requirements for procurement because of the urgency of the situation.

“But the Treasury said to us that it was not advisable that we should waive the normal requirements, and asked us to follow the normal process, but to shorten it,” said Nzimande.

He said that by next month the department would put up an advert that would be followed by a process of determining companies that had the capacity to provide the laptops.

“There will be very strict BEE requirements, which is another thing that we have to ensure,” said Nzimande.

He said there was a concern that some companies might take the department to court with challenges if they were not given the tender to provide the laptops.

He told engineering students that for the time being they would be provided with network data, which he said they could use on their cellphones for study purposes.

The Mercury

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** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or visit  sacoronavirus.co.za 

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