Protests Over NSFAS Allowances Costs University Millions

University of Mpumalanga is now assessing the damage following a student rampage over NSFAS funding. Students destroyed university property which will cost the University millions of rands. The University has also had their examinations affected.

University of Mpumalanga is now assessing the damage following a student rampage over NSFAS funding. Students destroyed university property including state of the art equipment at the hospitality department, a security vehicle and the guardhouse.

Students also caused damage to hotels set up by the University for hospitality students and even resorted to stealing meats, damaging doors and stealing beverages and other goods. The stolen goods alone amounts to R60 000 and the University continues to look at what else was done.

The Dean of Students held a meeting with student and campus representatives where they assessed what has happened and looked at the negatives.

We had a common understanding that as long as the protests continue, these other criminal elements that we have started seeing emerging will continue but if it stops and the operations of the University returns to normality, things will be better for all of us.

- Dean of Students, Dr Paul Maminza

He also made it clear that living and meal allowances can only be paid if they are back at campus and operations are back to normal, which has happened. 

The damage is said to cost the University millions of rand as the University was also under construction. Construction has had to be halted due to the protests which resulted in construction losses and more money lost.

"Students started becoming violent and we saw a lot of criminal elements emerging out of this," said Maminza. He continued to say that students are destroying things which have nothing to do with the accommodation allowances issue students are protesting against.

Students were protesting against the NSFAS decision to not pay for private accommodation. The protests went that far that the University even had to put a pause on exams.

Protests at the University started on 1 December just as exams were set to begin and they were scheduled until 15 December.

"We were supposed to start with exams from 1 December until 15 December for this phase 1 of exams. Phase 2 happens in January from the 5th until the 29th of January," explained the Dean of students. However, due to students not being able to write, he hopes students will continue with their exams.

On Wednesday, the protests were called off by the University's SRC. Even with the protests being called off, some students were still not continuing with their exams. 

Discussions are set to take place on what to do about exam days lost.

Due to the extension of the academic year, students want NSFAS to fund accommodation for students living off-campus during December and January as NSFAS only pays between February and November.

In November, Higher Education Minister, Blade Nzimande, announced that UMP plans to complete their academic year in January. However, this might now be further delayed due to these disruptions. 



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