Students stopped classes at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN)’s Pietermaritzburg campus on Monday.
They say they have not received their National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) allowance for food and accommodation.
Student Representative Council (SRC) member Xola Mehlomakhulu said they could not allow classes to continue while others were being negatively affected by Nsfas. He said it was pertinent that everyone feel the way other students have been made to feel.
“We can’t allow others to study while others are suffering. No one can attend classes on an empty stomach,” he said.
Mahlomakhulu also said some post-graduate students were being excluded from the fund and were thus unable to further their studies.
He said students were squatting with other students while others had no place to stay.
This is what inspired SRC members to take protest action last Thursday and the subsequent shutting down of lecture classes on Monday.
Students who were not part of the protest raised some concerns.
“I’m from Imbali Unit 2. I take four taxis a day. Since Thursday, I’ve been coming to campus for nothing,” said one student who asked not to be named.
“My concern is that tests are resuming next week. What is going to happen? These students don’t want anyone to study. We are starting to feel the pinch,” said the student.
When GroundUp visited the campus, police were visible along Golf Road. Some students were sitting outside the campus. They watched as the police chased a group of protesters. Teargas was used to disperse the protesters.
A student who is part of the group that is disrupting lectures said he had not received his allowance. “I’m currently living with a friend in the township. I survive on cheap bread. I don’t have the money for food and accommodation.”
University spokesperson Normah Zondo said, “The university management is engaging with student leadership to resolve matters. Protesters are urged to allow time for discussions to take place, and desist from causing further disruption.”
GroundUp has got no response Nsfas, despite phoning, emailing and texting.