Buildings at the University of Limpopo, in South Africa, were set alight by angry students outraged by months of delay in accommodation allowance. Students have been struggling to pay rent and some have even been evicted by their landlords.
Protesting students say it has been nine months without allowance and their landlords are either throwing them out, or threatening to evict them. They shared that it has been a difficult year for them because they are unable to study peacefully as they are always worried that the landlords will kick them out of their rooms. Students have decided not to write their exams until the university pays their allowances. They highlighted that some students end up doing illegal things to be able to pay rents.
Johannes Selepe, a spokesperson for the University, said the university executive management received a memorandum of demands at 11am on Wednesday from the students and landlords. The demands were in regards to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) accommodation allowances. Selepe said the university had not paid the allowances because the students and landlords had not concluded their lease agreements. The NSFAS policy states that there will be no accommodation allowance if there is no signed lease agreement.
University Property Damaged
The university is pleading with the students and landlords to complete the agreement in order to facilitate the speedy resolution of the matter. The police and university security also pleaded with the protesters to avoid destruction of property, but to no avail. The university's gates were damaged, part of the perimeter fence was brought down, and fires affected a small area of the garages next to Gate No. 2.
Brig Motlafela Mojapelo, Limpopo police spokesman, said the police were called to the area after students started protesting in the afternoon. Initially, the protest was peaceful but took a violent turn when clashes broke out between the students and security guards. Infrastructure at the university's Mankweng campus was damaged as the situation turned volatile. Video clips on social media show parts of the university's buildings were torched.
Selepe said the management continues to engage with the protesters. He added that the university is committed to assisting and advanced allowances as far as its cash flow allows. The spokesperson said they are liaising with NSFAS to promptly process allowances for concluded and verified cases.