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Suicide Blamed On NSFAS For Failure To Pay Fees

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Suicide Blamed On NSFAS For Failure To Pay Fees

Suicide Blamed On NSFAS For Failure To Pay Fees. Scores of students across the country’s universities have been left stranded due to the National Student Financial Scheme (NSFAS) failure to pay their tuition fees.

Tragic End Due to Unpaid Fees

The Sunday Independent can reveal that two would-be academics have tragically taken their own lives because they couldn’t make a living after qualifying. In both heartbreaking cases, NSFAS had not settled their fees for years following the completion of their studies, leaving them unable to obtain their certificates from their respective universities.

Legal Battles and Withheld Certificates

Former University of Fort Hare graduates previously threatened legal action against Higher Education Minister and Training Minister, Dr. Blade Nzimande, over unpaid fees. This resulted in the institution withholding their qualifications. Nine students, armed with Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degrees, found themselves in this plight, prompting them to demand payment from Nzimande and NSFAS to avoid legal consequences for breach of contract.

Nationwide Consequences

Universities nationwide have been forced to withhold student certificates due to NSFAS’s failure to fulfill their contractual obligations. Despite attempts to seek clarification, NSFAS did not respond to inquiries made by the Sunday Independent.

Student Voices: Desperation and Despair

Last week, Ndumiso Mguni, a student from the Durban University of Technology, reached out, expressing his frustration and disillusionment. He highlighted the dire situation faced by many graduates who are unable to obtain their certificates due to unpaid tuition fees, echoing a sentiment shared by numerous others across colleges and universities.

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Tragic Loss: Zakhele Khumalo Story

Zakhele Khumalo’s recent suicide serves as a poignant reminder of the human cost of NSFAS’s failures. His uncle, Samuel Khumalo, confirmed the tragedy, expressing deep sorrow and frustration with the government’s inability to provide adequate support. Zakhele’s untimely death underscores the urgency of addressing the systemic issues within NSFAS.

Investigation and Recovery Efforts

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has launched a probe into NSFAS, managing to recoup over R700 million in unpaid fees. This includes R688.2 million in unallocated funds. Furthermore, the SIU has signed acknowledgement of debt agreements totaling R49.7 million with Motheo Technical Vocational Education and Training College in the Free State. The investigation revealed poor control systems and reconciliation processes within NSFAS, leading to the accumulation of unallocated funds.

NSFAS Response and Future Outlook

NSFAS has refuted claims made by the South African Union of Students (SAUS) regarding its impending collapse. The institution asserts that it is undergoing realignment and modernization efforts to meet the needs of the more than 1 million students it serves. This follows accusations from SAUS that NSFAS was on the verge of collapse after failing to pay over 70,000 students their monthly allowances since May of the previous year, following a switch to a direct payment system.

Conclusion

The tragic loss of lives and the widespread impact on students’ futures underscore the urgency of addressing the systemic failures within NSFAS. As students continue to face uncertainty and hardship, it is imperative for authorities to take swift and decisive action to ensure that no more lives are lost and that students receive the support they need to pursue their academic aspirations without hindrance.

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