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‘Mining authority failing students’

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The director of IFU, Yvette Francis, accused the MQA of failing to pay stipends to 216 students who are currently receiving training as artisans at the Namaqualand college.

OWED: An urgent court application by IFU Training Institute and students from the Northern Cape Rural Training TVET College in Okiep, relating to the release of R3.3 million owed to the parties by the Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA), was heard by the Northern Cape High Court yesterday.

JUDGMENT in an urgent court application on whether the sheriff of the court should release funds amounting to R3.3 million to a training company will be heard in the Northern Cape High Court today.

This follows after a Johannesburg-based company, IFU Training Institute, and the Northern Cape Rural Training TVET College in Okiep brought an urgent application against the Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA) for failure of payment.

The director of IFU, Yvette Francis, accused the MQA of failing to pay stipends to 216 students who are currently receiving training as artisans at the Namaqualand college.

Francis said that IFU was awarded a contract in 2016 to train the artisans in the Northern Cape in a joint venture with the Rural Training TVET college.

She said that an order granted by the court on June 13, 2018 interdicted the release of funds held by the sheriff of the court.

“The MQA owes us more than R3.3 million. These funds were paid to the sheriff, however, an interdict was granted which stopped the money being paid to us. The money is currently with the sheriff. We also, as part of the application, included the sheriff as the second respondent in the matter,” she said.

In the application, Francis stated that the failure to receive the money had a negative impact on the students, who were awaiting payment in order to pay for basic needs.

“The harm that will flow is harm to indigent learners who are the subject of training programmes conducted by IFU, in terms of a contract with the MQA, who are not receiving their monthly stipends. This is a familiar pattern of non-payment from the MQA, which we will demonstrate.

“In addition to that, IFU also faces financial ruin through MQA’s failure to make payment to it. At present, IFU makes no profit from its agreement with the MQA, they simply invoice the MQA on a cost-only basis, recovering disbursements expended on the training of students only,” the application read.

The representative of the students, Jacques Nzima, said that the students are the hardest hit by the matter.

“The students are supposed to receive a stipend of R3 570. The stipends are to pay for their accommodation and travel expenses as well as other needs. Many are from surrounding areas and have not been able to pay rent and that has made things turn sour between them and their landlord. This matter has put a lot of strain on the students,” said Nzima.

He added that some of the students are due to complete their training in three months’ time.

“More than 60% of the students will complete their training in September this year. There are mines opening in the area and there are great employment opportunities for the students once they are done. Some students are concerned that the training programme might come to a halt before completion due to the lack of funds. This will result in them not obtaining their qualifications and securing employment at the mines,” he said.

The judgment in the matter will be heard today.