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Social Justice Walk raises funds for student debt

Professor Thuli Madonsela was among 40 people to take part in Stellenbosch University’s Social Justice Walk initiative to raise funds for student debt. Picture - Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Professor Thuli Madonsela was among 40 people to take part in Stellenbosch University’s Social Justice Walk initiative to raise funds for student debt. Picture - Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Nov 27, 2021

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Stellenbosch University students and local organisations tightened their shoe laces for a fun-walk to raise funds for student debt.

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The Social Justice Walk was part of the Action4Inclusion campaign, launched last year to support students who could not register for the new academic year because of outstanding fees.

The university’s Professor Thuli Madonsela was among 40 people who participated in the 16km walk, which started at the Rhenish Church and finished at Die Werf in Pniel.

Madonsela said every attendee was committed to eliminating student debt and promoting the spirit of common purpose.

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“We are raising money through this walk in two ways. One is direct and the other is indirect. Every one who is in this walk has paid R540, unless they are students.

“The second way is through publicising the #Action4inclusion campaign to get people who are not here with us to know that this is a quest that they, too, can and should contribute towards,” said Madonsela.

Madonsela said the social justice ambassadors have a committee that determines who benefits from the money raised.

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Attendees were given a stone and a little spekboom branch to walk with in their hands. With the stone they had to choose a special spot along the route and put it down as “a symbol of pain, hurt and humiliation our people have endured in the past”. The spekboom branch was given to participants as a symbol of ‘hope and inspiration’.

Bulelani Mekile, a student at the University of the Western Cape, said because of historical debt he is unable to get his Bachelor of Arts degree.

“I finished the course, but the university kept my certificate. So what happens is that for your debt to be paid at UWC, you need to sign a document (acknowledgement of debt) that will tie you to pay the money before you get your certificate,” said Mekile.

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Sikelela Ngxowa, a final-year student in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, said the walk was a thoughtful way to assist students in need.

“This walk is an important movement because there are a lot of students that are in debt, and they do not have funding or a trust fund from their families,” he said.

Another student, Bulumko Dyani, said he joined the walk as a means of contributing to the cause.

“It is about doing something to make a difference, because it does not help sitting around and not doing anything because at least by walking here we help to support the cause, to help students that are in debt,” he said.

Stellenbosch municipality’s new deputy mayor, Jeremy Fasser, said the walk gave him an opportunity to engage with other stakeholders and to understand issues on the ground.

Chief executive of Visit Stellenbosch Jeanneret Momberg said it was important to assist those in need.

“We partnered with #Action4inclusion to use this walk as a mechanism to raise funds and awareness for social inclusion,” she said.

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