Government concerned about violent protests at SA universities, says Ramaphosa

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CAPE TOWN, February 7 – President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday that the government was concerned about developments that have erupted on some campuses of tertiary institutions this week, especially reports of violence and intimidation.

This comes amid a turbulent week at various universities across the country after students embarked on a protest demanding housing and that institutions register those with debt, culminating with the shooting dead of a student at the Durban University of Technology.

“Of particular concern is the tragic death of Mlungisi Madonsela, a student at the Durban University of Technology. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and call on law enforcement agencies to thoroughly investigate the incident,” Ramaphosa said.

“We call on student representatives and university authorities to work together to find solutions to the challenges that students are facing.”

During his state of the Nation Address, Ramaphosa said that the government would build capacity within the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) to help it deliver on its mandate.

Last year, the government introduced free higher education for qualifying first-year students whose family incomes are less than R350,000 a year.

“Thanks to this initiative, links have been re-established with all institutions, and institution heads and student leaders have played a critical role in communicating with students. The scheme is being phased in over a five year period until all undergraduate students who qualify in terms of the criteria can benefit,” Ramaphosa said.

“Stabilising the business processes of the Nsfas will also be a priority in the coming year so that it is properly capacitated to carry out its critical role in supporting eligible students,” the President said.

– African News Agency (ANA)