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College administrator blamed for sabotaging maritime skills training

Dr Blade Nzimande Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency(ANA)

Dr Blade Nzimande Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Aug 8, 2021


DURBAN - STUDENTS at a maritime skills development academy have accused the administrator of the troubled Durban Coastal TVET College of “sabotaging” the programme by halting stipend payments to deserving students.

Hundreds of students have been forced to quit while others were still waiting to be paid their stipends for various skills development training fields after their payment was halted.

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Some of the affected students, who are part of the maritime training programme facilitated by Ace Boating Maritime Academy, said they have not been paid despite attending their classes and training as per the contract.

The students alleged that since the arrival of Ndoda Biyela as an administrator in December, they have not been paid a stipend, ranging from R2 500 to R3 500 per month.

Biyela was appointed in November when the college was placed under administration by Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Blade Nzimande.

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This was after a string of corruption allegations within the college and a damning audit report by the auditor general.

The Sunday Tribune previously reported about the maladministration at the college and Biyela’s alleged spending on his private security.

Biyela had been staying and working from umhlanga Protea Hotel since he joined the college, claiming that it was dangerous to work from his office at the college’s campus.

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This was after a senior college official was shot several times on campus in connection with tenders before Biyela’s appointment.

A group of students, who asked not to be named, fearing victimisation, said chances of getting their qualifications were being cut by Biyela.

“We used the stipend for rent and transport to the college. It hurts because we are not part of any politics at play but our future is in jeopardy. The situation has become worse at the college, with no stipend some of us have been forced to quit the programme and search for other jobs,” said one student.

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Qinisela Zulu, chief executive for Ace Boating Maritime Academy, claimed that the occupational qualifications programmes that were funded by the Sectoral Education and Training Authority (Seta) have been dealt a blow at the college since Biyela came on board.

He confirmed that the college had received the funds for the 12-month course but alleged that Biyela blocked the payments without an explanation.

“Various service providers to the college have reported non-payment for services rendered and procurement of teaching and learning necessities such as stationery, study guides, tools, raw materials and machinery (procurement and service) necessary for teaching occupational qualifications and scarce skills,” said Zulu.

Biyela had previously dismissed the claims when approached by the Sunday Tribune.

He alleged that students were not attending classes, therefore, they would not receive their stipend.

Biyela was not available to respond to the Ace Boating Academy allegations this week as his phone rang unanswered. He also did not respond to the questions sent to him.

Sipho Nzimande, regional head of the Department of Higher Education Science and Technology in KZN, said the matter was an internal issue and he was not aware of it.

This was despite the emails and calls made by the parents and students to his office.

“I would not be able to respond to that, it is like asking me how many students are in one class. You can ask managers and the administrator they may be able to respond,” said Nzimande before he cut the call.

Ishmael Mnisi, a spokesperson for the department, did not answer the questions sent to him about the non-payment of students’ stipends, as well as Biyela’s security spending.