Agitation and fury as a result of delayed Nsfas funds have lead to students igniting a protest at the University of Limpopo. Students at the University have been calling for action, but to no avail, prompting the South African Union of Students to step in.
On Wednesday, 14 September, 2022, students attending the University of Limpopo took to the streets to voice their frustration and anger at the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas), as well as the University.
The protests were sparked by the University’s alleged inability to assist its off-campus students in regards to accommodation, as the Nsfas funds meant to cover their living costs were delayed for months.
The students claim they have not received their allowances for months, which has resulted in some of them losing their housing accommodations. They now are demanding the immediate payment of their Nsfas housing allowances for off-campus students.
The protests have lead to the burning of campus buildings, including a security guardhouse and the University’s third entrance.
The students are claiming that they haven’t received their Nsfas allowances for months and have therefore been begging the University to provide some assistance by paying off-campus student accommodation allowances, which still has not been done.
The South African Union of Students (SAUS) has joined forces with the Limpopo students, defending their actions and demands in a statement released on Thursday, the 15th of September, noting with “sheer disgust” at the way these students have been treated.
“We want to, without hashing our words, condemn this criminal and dehumanizing conduct from both the university and Nsfas. We contend this behavior to be a criminal act because it directly leads to violent crimes against students,” reads the statement.
Because the Limpopo students were without funds for several months, for majority of the year, students have not had access to safe and secure student accommodation; many instances have seen some students go without access to accommodation at all.
According to SAUS, many students had been sexually assaulted, mugged and even killed because of their displacement since losing their accommodation due to Nsfas’s delay in funds distribution, calling the situation a human right’s violation.
“This is therefore a direct violation of their most basic human rights, such as the right to shelter, dignity and life itself,” continues the statement.
The blame, SAUS says, should fall on Nsfas, who they feel are directly responsible for the “chaos” and “destruction” that has unfolded.
The Union goes on to state that just because Nsfas has passed off its responsibilities’ to the University’s Vice-Chancellor, does not free the financial aid provider from its obligations and commitments it made to the qualifying students.
The only behaviour SAUS condemns is the destruction of University property, but are still in support of the students making their voices heard.
“The university shunned the endless calls from students to pay out these accommodation allowances, and when the students justifiably took to the streets to effectively demand the protection of their Constitutional rights, they then were met with intimidation, violence and victimization,” says SAUS.
Additionally, the university’s Registrar Prof Kwena Masha stated that they have received a memorandum of demands from the students and responded within an hour, yet despite this, the protests continued and resulted in further property damage to the institution’s third entrance.
SAUS has also called for the removal of the institution’s Vice-Chancellor who they say has “no regard for human life.”
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