No food or fees for students
THIRTY Limpopo student doctors at Wits University in Johannesburg have been left high and dry after the provincial department of health allegedly failed to pay their bursary fees.
The department made a commitment to pay for the students' tuition, accommodation, books and meals. The students claim that all this has not been done.
The students, some of whom are from poverty-stricken families, are unable to buy the things they need while studying at university. Those who reside in self-catering residences are struggling to buy food.
This has come to light as Limpopo hospitals slide into chaos amid shortages of medication and equipment.
The department is one of the five placed under administration by the national government because of financial mismanagement.
Mantsiri Moshoeu, a 21-year-old third-year medical student, accused the department of taking their education for granted by failing to pay for their studies.
"The department of health in Limpopo knows very well that there is a serious shortage of health personnel in the province. They promised to pay for us and must fulfil [their promises]."
He said there were more than 30 students in his faculty, all experiencing similar problems.
Another medical student at Wits, Pat Mothwa, said they had been waiting for their money since January and that they were supposed to sit for their exams soon and were still without textbooks.
"I can't figure out how the department expects us to pass when we do not have textbooks. We really need the money," Mothwa said.
His sentiments were echoed by Cecilia Mogane, who said things were difficult for them as they were forced to study on empty stomachs.
"We are really starving and the department is not doing anything to assist us," Mogane said.
Premesh Shinol, who works in the bursary section of the university, said the section manager Busisiwe Sithole had the correct details about the payment transactions but that they had only received part payment from the department.
Sithole was in a meeting yesterday and would only be available for comment today.
According to Moshoeu, the university has more than 300 students from Limpopo, including those doing nursing, who are in a similar predicament.
He said they had approached the university fearing that they might be evicted if the department did not pay, but were that told it was a matter between the university and the department.
"What concerns us is that should any one of us fail, the department wants a refund," he said.
But, spokesman for the provincial department Phuti Seloba said yesterday that R9-million had been paid to Wits on May 29.
"To our knowledge we do not owe Wits. Any Wits student who has signed a bursary contract with us has been covered in that payment," Seloba said. - email@example.com
- This article was first published in the printed newspaper on 26 July 2012