17 Students suspended after questioning NSFAS allowance payout amounts

Seventeen students at King Sabata Dalindyebo College's Ntabozuko campus in Xhorha have been suspended for misconduct after alleging that they were not receiving the correct amount of allowances. 

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Protests about unpaid NSFAS allocations brought classes at King Sabata Dalindyebo College's Ntabozuko campus in Xhorha to a halt in late July. Majority of the suspensions of students relate to allegations of assault, bullying and intimidation of teachers and fellow peers. 

Suspensions signed by principal JT Ngcobo, came into effect October 5 and 6 2020. 

These students alleged that not all the funds deposited to their institution by the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) in January could be accounted for. 

NSFAS-supported students were supposed to receive stipends averaging R2900 a month but some students say they only received R290 a month. 

 “As candidate representatives for students, we have tried to communicate with management, but they told us they do not have any cash at KSD, that the money is at NSFAS and that we should approach them.” a suspended student told DispatchedLive in anonymity. 

When checking the "My NSFAS" portal, where students view their tuition fees and other information the student leader said that the year 2020 does not reflect and that they contacted the bursary officer who said that they were querying it too. 

Another student said: “It’s painful being suspended for fighting for my rights, and especially so when there is no coherent response to account for why we have been receiving these amounts.”

The lack of funds received especially during the period of lockdown, which saw many people left without sufficient food and shelter, negatively affected the mental health of a lot of students. A suspended student Nomampondo Ngongongo, had a letter from her doctor stating that she has clinical depression as a consequence of the allowance not being paid. She says she only attended the student meetings and never spoke at them, yet she was suspended. 

The students wrote to the UDM in parliament to assist them, which in turn has queried the matter with principal Ngcobo. 

In response to the UDM MP Yongama Zigebe, principal Ngcobo stated in a letter that some students had been paid in September. 

Ngcobo said on September 28, 54 students received a "living allowance" of R290. 

The principal sent a delegation to NSFAS on October 1. 

Ngcobo addressed questions around the R36m paid by NSFAS to the institution, the letter said that NSFAS deposited money to the college regularly for tuition fees, hostel accommodation and student allowances. He said the money was used by the college to pay student allowances  “as and when we receive remittances from NSFAS”, and credit student accounts for class fees. 

Students hostel accounts, for those who were residing in the facilities, were also credited. 

Ngcobo’s letter said that, to date, they had paid R24.1m in student allowances for 2020.

“I would estimate we have about R36m now on the whole NSFAS account. This is a moving target because we pay allowances and credit the students’ accounts for tuition on a weekly basis once we receive remittances, as explained above.” the letter stated. 

Principal Ngcobo, the NSFAS spokesperson Phatisa Ntlonze and Higher eductation & training spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi are yet to respond to further queries sent by DispatchLive.

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