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City students on ‘forced’ hunger strike

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Students claim the have to beg for food and share whatever they manage to forage, amongst themselves. They further alleged they do not have textbooks and cannot write exams on an empty stomach

Protesting students at Phatsimang College. Picture: Soraya Crowie

STUDENTS at the Phatsimang campus in the city have vowed to boycott classes and tests because they believe they have been forced to embark on a hunger strike due to the non-payment of their food allowances and study fees.

Students burnt tyres at the gates to the college on Friday morning to protest against the outstanding National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) fees that were allocated towards funding their study fees, accommodation and basic living expenses.

South African Students Congress (Sasco) and student representative, Cynthia Theys, said the monthly stipend of R700 that was allocated for food had also not been paid for the past three months.

“We have to beg for food and share whatever we manage to forage, amongst ourselves. We do not have textbooks and we cannot write exams on an empty stomach. There will be no class attendance until the money is paid.”

A student media liaison officer stated that meetings were held with NSFAS on Friday in order to facilitate payment.

“We need the funds to financially support the students. It is a countrywide problem. There was an undertaking that the funds would be paid over this week. Students are applying directly to NSFAS for funding which makes it difficult for us to check compliance.”