Statement on student protests – 7 March 2024

Academic and operational activities at Sol Plaatje University (SPU) were disrupted this morning, Thursday, 7 March 2024, by students who are demanding payment of NSFAS allowances and that the University addresses concerns about conditions in accredited off-campus accommodation.

NSFAS approached the higher education sector earlier this year to assist in the payment of allowances for February and March 2024, while they are resolving the issues around the service providers who were previously responsible for these payments. This has become a challenge because the information on the NSFAS portal is different from the list of funded students provided by NSFAS to higher education institutions.  Some students are therefore expecting payment of allowances when they may in fact not qualify to receive the funding.

At Sol Plaatje University over 2500 students who qualify for NSFAS funding have been paid through our Finance Division to date.  Those students who have not yet received their allowances were either defunded by NSFAS, so they do not qualify for the allowance; or their details had to be vetted for payment by the University because they are either first year students or first-time recipients of NSFAS funding.  Several students have also submitted incorrect banking details and have been notified via email to rectify this via the SPU Finance Division. 

The University Executive met with the SRC at 09:00 to discuss these matters and reached the following mutual agreement:

  1. The payment of allowances to all qualifying students, whose information is correct or has been updated, will be made by close of business tomorrow, 8 March 2024.
  2. The SRC and the Dean of Students will meet to resolve matters related to conditions in accredited off-campus accommodation.
  3. The Dean of Students will work with the SRC to create a mechanism whereby the SRC can engage landlords, of accredited off-campus accommodation, on behalf of students.
  4. The SRC will work with the University Management to assist defunded students, in the short term, through the Student Social Relief Fund, provision of meals on campus and access to food parcels.

The University respects the right of individuals to peaceful protest as enshrined in our constitution.  But the University will not tolerate protest that infringes on the rights of others, is violent, is disruptive to its academic, operational and construction activities, and which contravene the Student Code of Conduct.  Actions which fall outside of peaceful protest will be dealt with through the disciplinary processes of the University.

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