Wits University Masters students who were promised bursaries by the Department of Arts and Culture, say payment delays have had a serious impact on their lives and studies, with some left destitute, Eyewitness News reported Monday.
It’s understood that 19 students have been waiting for funds from the Department, which confirmed in August it would be covering their accommodation, tuition, meals and books.
In a letter to Wits dated 20 August, the Arts and Culture Department’s Reinette Stander confirmed that funding would be processed for the students.
However, not a cent has been paid since with the Department blaming Wits, saying the university had not submitted all the required documents.
Wits has denied this. University spokesperson Buhle Zuma said: “Wits has complied with all the requirements from the department. We are confident that this process will be completed soon.”
But amid the claims and counter-claims, the affected students are in dire situation.
At least one of them was forced to sleep at Johannesburg’s Park Station, while others sought shelter at laboratories and lecture halls, Eyewitness News reported.
Others are relying on handouts from good Samaritans to survive.
“I’m unable to get my food and textbook allowance. My fees are high,” one student said.
“That money needs to be paid…,” said another, “…if the department doesn’t pay the money, then we won’t graduate next year, we won’t get our certificates next year.”
A student from the Eastern Cape told the radio station, that he’s had to rely on food handouts from fellow students.
“A friend of mine got me lunch. If someone from the residence is lazy to go and collect their meal, they’ll give me their meal.”
This final year student said having lost both his parents, he was totally reliant on the funds from the Department of Arts and Culture.
“I’m surviving by the grace of God. I don’t have parents, I’ms squatting with a friend from Newtown because I came from Richards Bay knowing that the department would provide me with money for accommodation, tuition fee and meals. It’s November and I haven’t received that yet.