Johannesburg - The Democratic Alliance (DA) has blamed the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) for the stampede at the Capricorn Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college in Polokwane, Limpopo province, saying that the radical party must take responsibility for the injuries of applicants.
This comes after Capricorn TVET college was forced to suspend registration for the 2018 academic year until Monday following a stampede on Thursday morning as thousands of prospective students rushed to secure their places.
Six were injured when hopeful applicants rushed through the gate, and a further two prospective students were struck by a vehicle. The situation later calmed down after police and paramedics came on the scene and transported the injured to various healthcare centres.
The EFF has demanded that institutions of higher learning allow walk-in registrations for those who did not meet the deadline for online applications. The party also instructed prospective students to report to these institutions following President Jacob Zuma's announcement of free higher education last month.
Andricus van der Westhuizen, DA spokesperson on higher education and training, said that this incident highlighted how irresponsible the call by the EFF to "storm" institutions was as some institutions avoid walk-in registrations in order to prevent harm coming to any applicants and accepted students.
"The call illustrates the party's willingness to selfishly exploit the hopes of a desperate youth, simply to further their own political goals. The responsibility for these injuries lies squarely at the EFF's door," Van der Westhuizen said in a statement.
"We urge institutions to take action to ensure the safety of students, and to suspend walk-in applications if necessary. Ultimately, this situation has arisen because of the Department of Higher Education and Training’s (DHET) continued failure to provide clarity of policy after the President's populist December announcement."
Van der Westhuizen said that institutions of higher learning – most notably TVETs – as well as students and parents were still largely in the dark as to what and how new policies were to be implemented this year.
He said that while the DA believed all deserving students should be able to further their studies, the party would urge them to refrain from participating in activities that contravene the policies of higher learning institutions and that put other prospective students at risk.
African News Agency/ANA