Due to the pandemic travel restrictions announced by the President on 15 March, the agenda had to be adjusted as some stakeholders could not attend the meeting. The Minister wrote to the Committee requesting that the University of Zululand be excused due to sensitive negotiations taking place that were already at an advanced stage. Sefako Makgatho University could not attend the meeting as the Vice Chancellor had travelled abroad to the UK and had to quarantine for 14 days when he arrived in the country. Unfortunately, the Committee invitation did not include the Council, which was an oversight. The University of Fort Hare informed the Committee that it had received a directive from the Department Deputy Director-General instructing it not to come to Parliament. The Committee took a resolution to seek answers from the Department why that directive was issued. The Administrator of the University of Fort Hare issued a letter giving reasons why he could not attend the meeting. The Committee was displeased with this disregard.
The Cape Peninsula University of Technology was invited to give a briefing on the student protest which led to its shutdown. CPUT management reported on registration and enrolment statistics; the teaching and learning programme; disbursement of NSFAS allowances; outstanding allowances; and the impact of the student protest. The CPUT student leadership present had conflicting views on the state of affairs from the beginning of student protest to its eventual shutdown and was not pleased present. The student leadership spoke about corruption particularly with tenders; the lack of student accommodation with some students sleeping in the student centre and the university library; and the private security guards on campus that were assaulting students
As for the NSFAS allowances, 10 008 students have been paid their allowances totalling R80 190 400. There were still 3 985 students that needed to receive a total of R32 677 000 in allowances but cannot be paid due to various banking issues. The transport allowance had not been paid to non-resident students as the process of private boarding accommodation and housing placement was still ongoing. This allowance will be backdated and paid with the April allowance upon confirmation of the accommodation status of the student. R65 000 000 will be paid to students in April for monthly living allowances and backdated transport allowances.
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) commented on its interaction with the CPUT student leadership who had visited the NSFAS office in Wynberg to seek answers on why allowances were not paid for some students. NSFAS explained that it had made the payments it was required to make. It was CPUT that did not pay the allowances due to challenges with verification of banking details.
The CPUT student community issued a memorandum with a number of demands. These included the resignation of the Vice Chancellor due to allegations that he was engaging in an unprofessional relationship with a junior staff member. The students also demanded that the Dean of Student Affairs resign due to the allegation that she was dismissed from her previous employment at Wits University for gross misconduct and incapacity.
The Dean of Student Affairs told the Committee this was not true and she had received a letter from the Wits University thanking her for outstanding service. She would attend to the defamation of character at a later stage.
The Committee took a resolution that the CPUT Council should be given time to peruse the memorandum and respond to it. The Committee would then engage the Council based on its response to the memorandum.
Members asked what consensus between students and management was needed to reopen the university. They asked about the memorandum demands; the 4 by 4 Task Team; vandalism of university property; timelines for resolving the 1 256 NSFAS appeals; expediting the conclusion of the 880 manual NSFAS applications; the 1 004 students yet to have their private accommodation assessed; if the SRC was represented in the university management committees; ascertaining the individuals responsible for the torching of buildings and destroying infrastructure; reasons for suspensions; consequence management for those vandalizing university property; and if evidence has been submitted for the SRC allegations.
The Chairperson noted apologies from the Minister and Deputy Minister. He then gave reasons for the absence of the three invited universities:
University of Zululand
On 15 March, the President had announced domestic travel and other restrictions and those restrictions have affected the parliamentary programme. The skills colloquium would not take place tomorrow due to the final plenary session at 10am. These restrictions have also affected the universities that were invited to attend the meeting today. On the University of Zululand, the Chairperson had received a letter from the Minister requesting some space to conclude his discussions with the university management and stakeholders. Negotiations are at an advanced and sensitive stage. He feared that if UniZulu was present, it might take the process back to the initial stage. Therefore the Committee will meet the UniZulu management at a later stage to honour the wishes of the Minister.
Sefako Makgatho University (SMU)
The Committee invited Sefako Makgatho University but the Vice Chancellor was in isolation for 14 days after a visit to the United Kingdom. When the secretary issued the invitation, he forgot to extend the invitation to the Council of the University.
University of Fort Hare (UFH)
Although UFH management confirmed that it would be attending, yesterday the Committee received a call from the Vice Chancellor saying that management had received a directive from the Deputy Director-General of University Education, saying that management must not travel to Parliament. The Chairperson was perplexed and attempted to get hold of the Minister but they had not managed to engage to ascertain why Dr Dianne Parker cancelled the university's attendance.
Management was willing to give a briefing and had sent the presentation. Management and Council cancelled the flight tickets of the SRC without talking to them. The SRC discovered at the airport that their tickets had been cancelled. Unfortunately, the Committee could not engage with the SRC without management. If management cancelled the SRC tickets without communicating with the SRC, it is a revelation of the depth of challenges there.
The Chairperson said that Prof Loyiso Nongxa, Administrator of the University, sent a letter "full of rubbish" and he was not pleased with the actions of the Administrator. The letter had been distributed to the Members. It is clear that there are a lot of challenges at UFH and perhaps the Committee could discuss the way forward regarding the University of Fort Hare.
Mr B Nodada (DA) requested that the Committee postpone instead of cancel the skills colloquium of the 18 March. It is an important colloquium. Secondly, it is a concern that the Ministry is not present. The concerns at the University of Fort Hare needed the Ministry present. He accepted SMU and UniZulu for not being present.
He had a problem with the behavior of the Administrator of Fort Hare who consistently showed signs of arrogance. The Committee needed to deal with that arrogance. He was appointed by the Minister and the Committee needs to resolve this matter swiftly – and perhaps reach a decision to replace the Administrator.
There is a need for direct political intervention by the Minister at the University of Fort Hare because the Administrator is so detached. The Committee needs to make a recommendation to the Minister on whether it is wise to have an Administrator that is so detached from the university and consistently shows signs of arrogance.
Mr T Letsie (ANC) said the UFH Administrator wrote a long letter to the Committee quoting the law when the university has just lost a court case on student housing at the university. The tone of the letter spews arrogance; informing Members that his term of office is coming to an end and therefore he wants to concentrate on issues taking place at the university. This is happening for the third time in three months now. Perhaps he needs to be reminded about executing his duties effectively.
He accepted the UniZulu intervention by the Minister but the reason its management was invited was due to the lack of intervention by the Ministry to begin with. Now he was uncertain whether to accept the explanation provided by the Minister.
As for SMU, he understood the reasons provided by its management. Perhaps, when SMU eventually comes to Parliament, the Committee could send some of the items that Members would like included in the presentation. In fact, written questions could be sent to SMU management and Council and written responses provided.
Ms N Mkhatshwa (ANC) said that the Committee needed to have a very stern discussion with the Department officials that gave a directive to the university management not to come to Parliament. Clearly, there is a misalignment in the understanding of the role of Parliament and that of the Department. The work may still continue through the technological platform.
The Chairperson said that Dr Diane Parker owes the Committee an explanation why she cancelled University of Fort Hare from attending this meeting. This will be formally requested of the Director General and Dr Parker within the next seven days because it is completely out of order. The Committee agreed with the Department that its officials must be present when the Committee engages with the institutions. That attitude will not be tolerated by the Committee.
The Chairperson said the Committee will respond with contempt to the letter of Prof Loyiso Nongxa as the letter is very contemptuous. It is basically giving us a middle finger. Universities are public institutions, and the Administrator is appointed as Council – playing an oversight role. Universities are led by Council and here we are with a man who does not understand his role. The Committee will write to him but the Minister must also be engaged on this as this behavior undermines Parliament. The role of Parliament must be respected.
The Chairperson said that CPUT was not originally on the programme. However, due to what happened at CPUT last week, the Committee extended it an invitation to get a sense of the matter while it is still fresh.
Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) Vice Chancellor briefing
Prof Chris Nhlapo, Vice Chancellor at CPUT, said that he had appeared before the Committee in 2017 to deal with a number of challenges that were vexing the institutions. These challenges seem to be coming back again and they have nothing to do with constitutionally-inclined student protests but with corruption.
The university is at 91% of completing its registrations. This means that there are still ongoing registrations at the university. The institution is sitting at 91.51% of its target for enrolments.
Prof Nhlapo explained the process of disbursement of allowances to NSFAS qualifying students. The university receives a NSFAS Funded Report and then prepares the Registration Template. After which the university requests NSFAS to validate the registration template and generate a New Bursary Agreement (NBA). CPUT then receives a remittance and disbursement report from NSFAS (with payments made in tranches) and CPUT reconciles this.
As for new NSFAS allowances, 10 008 students have been paid their allowances totalling R80 190 400. There were still 3 985 students that needed to receive a total of R32 677 000 in allowances but cannot be paid due to various banking issues. The transport allowance had not been paid to non-resident students as the process of private boarding accommodation and housing placement was still ongoing. This allowance will be backdated and paid with the April allowance upon confirmation of the accommodation status of the student. R65 000 000 will be paid to students in April for monthly living allowances and backdated transport allowances.
As for returning students, NSFAS has confirmed the funding of 6 786 returning students, and of these students there are 2 248 students with outstanding matters that are delaying their funding. 1 256 students still have NSFAS appeals in process. NSFAS has extended the closing date to 20 March 2020. We are busy assessing these appeals to prepare them for the Appeal Committee to recommend for 2020 funding decisions. In response to the students that have not received their allowances, the university, amongst other measures, has:
- Sent SMSes and e-mails to students on a weekly basis on bank rejections
- Explored the option of a dedicated/customised card and discussed with students (not agreed on due to banking card cost to host).
Prof Nhlapo spoke on the stoning and torching of infrastructure by students during the protest. Private cars parked on campus were stoned and destroyed and learning and teaching buildings were torched and vandalized by students. On 13 March, a decision was taken to bring the recess period forward after consultation with the Council Executive Committee.
CPUT Student Representative Council briefing
Mr Sikhulume Mpetsheni, Central SRC President at CPUT, reported on the NSFAS payments to date. There was an upfront payment of R155.9 million for 2020 and by 31 January 2020 CPUT received an upfront payment of R126.8 million. On 28 February 2020, another payment of R29.1 million was made to CPUT by NSFAS. He commented on corruption and noted:
- R32 million of NSFAS money for beneficiaries went missing
- Malicious tender process of cafeterias
- Militarization of campus (through corruption).
- Majority of students without their NSFAS allowance to date
- Monopoly of one transport company (HG Buses)
- Vitus Schola Protection Services relations with Prof Moll.
He said that SRC leaders are currently served with suspensions and intimidation by security guards and victimization on campus was prevalent. Students were chased on campus and being asked for student cards.
National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) briefing
Dr Randall Carolissen, NSFAS Administrator, said that when there are differences in the reconciliation of the disbursements, NSFAS usually invites the management of the institution and the SRC. The Vice Chancellor was called and informed that with the differences in the reconciliation of the disbursements, student protest and unrest might erupt.
NSFAS was approached by the CPUT students and the allegation was that NSFAS did not pay the institution. We showed them that we did pay the institution, as per the numbers presented by the Vice Chancellor. On the day the SRC was at NSFAS Western Cape office, there was also a conference with the Deputy Minister and these questions were raised. The Administrator reassured even the media that monies were paid to the institution. NSFAS never alluded or suggested that monies were "gone" or had been stolen.
The student appeal process is within the domain of CPUT. NSFAS receives the data from CPUT and CPUT said that the data would be sent on 20 March. That will be processed and those students will receive funding if the appeals are successful. NSFAS is trying to expedite that process to ensure that the money is paid.
When Dr Carolissen met with the Minister, concessions were made about accommodation and for rural and township-based institutions the national norms and standards may not be applicable. The institutions were given the responsibility to develop their own institution-based norms and standards taking cognizance of the local conditions but they must be conducive to academic success.
The Chairperson said that he was concerned about the transport allowance. R65 million will be paid to students as the April monthly living allowance with the backdated transport allowance. It is now April and no allowances have been paid. 1 986 students have a failed bank verification process. This is quite a big number so what is being done to help the students. It is one thing to identify the problem but there is no effort from management to help the students. There must be dedicated resources to assist in ensuring that the allowances were received.
There is R32 million outstanding to be paid to students. This is significant amount. Does that not concern management in view of the problems that already existed at CPUT? Surely this must be a cause for concern.
The memorandum submitted by student leadership outlines a number of accusations, amongst these is the Dean of Students was said to be fired from Wits University for gross misconduct and incapacity. He asked if that was the case. The Committee will give Council an opportunity to meet and discuss the student memorandum and then respond to the Committee.
Ms J Mananiso (ANC) commented on the lack of remorse by student leadership. Every time there is a discussion with students and management, it is always about the allowance but never about the quality of education. Students have been failed on this.
She said to the student leaders that they fail to provide leadership. For most matters that happen at institutions, the student leadership is consulted. As for those that damaged the property of the institution, what punitive action is going to be taken? Access cards need to be prioritized because it is difficult to track individuals that have caused damage or violence on campus.
Ms D Sibiya (ANC) asked for details about the missing results and missing beneficiaries. Between 27 January and 3 March, all the demands were met so why was CPUT shut down and the students burned buildings?
Mr P Keetse (EFF) asked about the applications by new students for 2020. Secondly, he asked about the suspension of student leaders. As for students sleeping in the library and student centre, what mechanism was used to arrive at the conclusion that the students sleeping there were primarily those that were failing and excluded? It is not only at CPUT where this crisis exists. It needs to be acknowledged that it is a crisis.
Universities must be encouraged to insource their own support services such as security, transport or shuttles and cleaning. Are there any intentions of insourcing those services and ensuring that these were provided directly by the university as opposed to outsourcing? The danger this creates is that management will mess up the psychology of student leaders by approaching them with information on tenders that other management staff are benefiting from. Some people would do that because they are not benefiting or 'eating'. The genuine issues become diluted. This is not about ‘eating’ and often management uses student leadership to fight personal battles amongst management. Student centres must be primarily owned by the university, in fact, it should be owned by the SRC.
As for NSFAS, Dr Carolissen should provide a reason to Members why he must be kept as the Administrator. The current challenges at NSFAS existed even during the tenure of Mr Nxasana. All the concerns ventilated by Members over and over again to the Department and NSFAS cannot be repeated.
The Chairperson said that NSFAS will be briefing Members on its Annual Performance Plan in the second week of next term in April. The NSFAS Administrator can be asked questions about CPUT. All other NSFAS matters can be ventilated that week.
Mr Nodada advised that the student memorandum the Committee received should be responded to by the Council before Members interrogate it. Members should only interrogate the report's response to that memorandum. He felt that this was an extremely poor engagement or someone was lying as management is saying there is a 4 by 4 forum but the SRC is saying there is no engagement with student leadership. It is irritating to sit here listening to institutions exposing their poor communication with the student community.
He asked the management about the delays in the transport allowances. He wanted to know about the timeline for resolving the 1 256 appeals by students to re-register. When will the decisions be made and responded to about the 880 manual NSFAS applications as this has been a problem across the sector? What is the possibility in getting them processed quickly and what are the delays with these applications? The 1 004 students that are yet to be assessed and verified for private accommodation, who was tasked with that? Members would appreciate timelines on when these will done. Is there an MOU in place?
The students dispute there are spaces for engagement, but every single institution has a management committee. Is the SRC represented on the management committee? Does the SRC attend those meetings referred to as 4 by 4 meetings.
The Vice Chancellor should have attached the demands and the management responses. Members would have appreciated that information in order to interrogate it.
Mr Nodada addressed the SRC as the student leadership and said students complain about the standard and lack of student accommodation but it is disappointing to hear that students are responsible for the destruction of buildings and university infrastructure. This type of action de-legitimizes the students’ struggles and he condemned this behavior. It cannot be that students are going to claim to be innocent and ignore their role as stakeholders in the institution. There is a role that students must play and the SRC must condemn this behavior. It must assist in putting an end to this behavior.
He asked management about the security measures to ascertain which individuals were responsible for the torching of buildings and destroying the university’s infrastructure. These actions cost the state more money rather than maintaining existing buildings. What consequence management measures have been put in place? As for the suspended student leaders, has due process been followed in the suspension of those leaders?
Lastly, has the SRC submitted evidence about the corruption allegations to management and Council? What is needed for the student leadership and the management to resolve the issues?
Mr Letsie agreed that Members will not defend students that go around burning and stoning university infrastructure. He suggested that a thorough analysis needs to be conducted to ascertain the deep root causes. Perhaps, in the process of conducting the analysis, lifestyle audits of the officials should be considered.
On the L&T Food truck that was flipped, he asked what the truck was doing at CPUT as he was not privy to the fact that the tender was awarded to L&T Food.
Mr Letsie said R32 million was still outstanding and that should be generating serious interest. He asked how much interest and said some of that interest should benefit the students by reducing student debt. If this is not done, people will continue seeing the same challenges every year. The money made from the interest must be put to use.
He asked for a breakdown of the security company that has been brought on to campuses – Members would appreciate details of the procurement process followed for appointing the security company and how much was spent. These institutions are very effective in appointing security companies but not so effective in capturing the correct details of students to avoid delays in allowance payments. A thorough forensic audit/investigation needs to be conducted.
Ms Mkhatshwa cautioned the CPUT delegation not to personalize the Committee's oversight work. Stakeholders must be very clear when making allegations. It is important to ensure that the allegations are encompassed by evidence. The student memorandum has serious allegations. These allegations must be investigated and cases opened with the South African Police Service.
She misheard and asked what was processed in batches of 500 at a time. Management has outlined a number of interventions in curbing the lack of allowance payments, but is student leadership part of the management meetings when discussing NSFAS matters? When is day zero anticipated?
Students need to take up a bigger role in calling out people in management and even calling out other students that perpetuate violence on campus including gender-based violence.
She commended the student leadership for the peaceful protest at Parliament the previous week. The students handled themselves in a proper manner. She was happy about that.
The Chairperson said that Members would appreciate details on when the shutdown will come to an end. The Committee should be informed on the details for the solutions and timelines to reopen the university. Ultimately, the responsibility is on management to do that.
The Chairperson said that the Vice Chancellor kept mentioning corruption but no clear details were provided. Members would like to understand some of those in their entirety.
CPUT management team response
A CPUT management team member replied that the allowances disbursed to students to date is 10 008 students. The R65 million in April is for the monthly allowance disbursements to those students plus the 3 985 students that had incorrect banking details. Currently the team is verifying those banking details so they can be included in the April batch.
About the unpaid travel allowances, management had engaged with the SRC on this matter. The challenge was that at the time of disbursing the previous monthly allowance, the team could not determine which students were eligible for travel allowance. So it was suggested that the travel allowance payment will be back-dated in April.
The university also has to pay accredited private accommodation bodies. As for non-accredited accommodation, the Minister had requested that universities develop and monitor this to avoid residence shortages. The 2020 guidelines stated that students would not receive rental allowance for non-accredited accommodation. However, in January there was a meeting that took the resolution to allow students to move into non-accredited private accommodation but with the provision of a lease agreement. The 1 004 students are the ones in private accommodation that have to be processed and this was happening before the student protest took place.
The 500 per batch is in relation to when communicating with students. We can send only a batch of 500 emails at a time. The first monthly allowance was paid to over 7192 students.
The identity numbers and banking details of the students were currently being verified and updated. By April, the students will be paid.
The Chairperson asked what has been done to ensure that students received the information and that their banking details were being verified.
Vice Chancellor response
Prof Nhlapho replied that they are continually sending information to students via SMSes and emails to ensure that students are informed. Unfortunately the situation on campus has not allowed further contact with students but it is being prioritized. There is a team that is verifying students. Those that cannot be verified, further means will be taken to reach those students.
Management launched awareness-raising campaigns on the importance of ensuring that banking details were correct and accurate. Management will now ensure that the campaign is ramped up and will consult with student leadership tomorrow at 10am. So far there has been a positive reception and the engagements are constant and ongoing.
Management was presented with 13 demands which were responded to within 24 hours. Even though those demands were presented to Parliament, the Chairperson of Council does not have a copy of those demands which is now the official memorandum. It was also not presented to the Secretary of Council.
The Chairperson replied that the memorandum will be provided to the Chairperson and Secretary of Council.
Prof Nhlapho replied that the appointment of the Dean of Students was done through the relevant process. The Vice Chancellor was part of that process and the panel that appointed the Dean of Students.
Prof Nhlapho replied that all the student suspensions involved gender-based violence (GBV).
The Chairperson asked for the details of the suspensions to avoid venturing into generalities.
The Vice Chancellor confirmed that the information will be provided to the Committee. As for the students that were sleeping in the library, he has a list of 29 students and the reason they could not be assisted is because these students had never passed any of their subjects since 2016. Only one student passed one subject since 2017. A list of all these students and the details could be furnished to the Committee as well.
On the insourcing of services, he confirmed that the university insourced the services of cleaners and security on campus. The only issue raised in the memorandum was about the monopoly of HG Travel Bus Company. This company went through the normal tender process and its term is coming to an end. There will be due process followed to obtain another service provider.
The Chairperson asked about the conditions necessary for reopening the campus. What would it take for management and student representatives to arrive at consensus to ensure that the CPUT was reopened?
Prof Nhlapho replied that the aim is to reopen on the 6 April. There will be engagement tomorrow and all stakeholders will continue to engage to find amicable solutions.
Acting Dean of Engineering Studies response
Prof Mellet Moll, Acting Dean: Engineering Studies, said that the announcement about the closure made it clear that the closure was for the April holiday period and we are planning to realign the academic programme for the lost time. We have lost about nine days. Our readiness for online education has been improved for certain parts of the curriculum.
The restoration of law and order needed to be realized and that has actually happened. The planning of the programme of the university will now take into account the Covid-19 pandemic because that has implications for the reopening timeline. The Committee can rest assured that engagements to this effect will be held with all stakeholders. Management wishes to stick to the timeline but at this time it is unclear due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The complexities of reopening are now widened with the coronavirus but management and stakeholders are yet to discuss how it will be managed by the university.
The Management and SRC Committee meets four times a year and Prof Moll chairs the committee. In the first meeting, the new SRC met with management for the first time. At that meeting we discussed the student demands. As a result of the demands raised by the students in that meeting, it was suggested that the 4 by 4 Task Team should be created. The concept of the 4 by 4 Task Team is to deal with concerns in real time and it comprises four management senior members and four SRC senior members. We have a rolling agenda of closing out matters as they arise and we have a WhatsApp group that encourages constant communication. The SRC is also the eyes and ears of the Committee and reports back on any concerns that arise in real time. After the first meeting on the initial set of student demands, a second set of demands came up and around that time when the Committee was scheduling to meet, the protest had started.
The Chairperson asked why the students were protesting when there is a platform to engage.
Prof Moll replied that perhaps there was disconnect between the SRC and the student community where the student community felt that they were not represented in the discussions that took place in the 4 by 4 committee meetings.
Prof Moll replied that there are six food truck operators across different campuses and L&T Food is one of them. This is a temporary measure for us to get to a point where we can have a permanent cafeteria service provider. That tender was sent out and L&T Food was one of the service providers that applied but that process was not concluded as yet. Management can provide all the relevant details pertaining to the claims that L&T Food was awarded the tender under-handedly.
Dean of Student Affairs response
Ms Prem Coopoo, Dean of Student Affairs at CPUT, said that the sentiments in the memorandum is highly defamatory. The memorandum alleges that she was fired from Wits University for misconduct and gross incompetence. She advised vehemently that this was not true and she will deal with the defamation of character appropriately. She told the Committee that she had received a letter from Wits University thanking her for her outstanding performance and service.
Prof Rishi Balkaran, CPUT Deputy Vice Chancellor, replied that CPUT receives around 54 000 applications for first time entering students. He said that it is unethical to ask the Madam Dean such a question about allegations of gross misconduct. It should not be asked pat-off.
The Chairperson said that frankly it is not the Deputy Vice Chancellor’s part to tell Parliament how to conduct its business. It is the responsibility of the MPs to ask questions of management. He owed Members an apology for saying that Members were being unethical for asking questions. Students raised the issue and it is a matter of factual dispute. Members are allowed to ask questions about what has been raised by the students.
Ms Nonele Ganyile, SRC Secretary General, stated categorically that management has lied to the Committee that those who were suspended were suspended for gender-based violence (GBV) cases. Some of them were suspended for #FeesMustFall and others were suspended for the recent protest.
We have made it clear to management that we do not want private security guards on campus. Every time when the private security guards are there on campus, there is torching of vehicles and stoning of buildings. Some of the cars that were torched were close to the control building of the private security company. Those areas on campus are highly guarded by those security guards. It would be risky for any student to torch cars or burn buildings in the area where those private security guards are based. Once these private security guards became visible on campus, things became worse. There is also no proof that students stoned cars or torched buildings.
In our meetings, we always stress non-violence. As for students cards, there is no system for monitoring who comes in and out of the university. We asked management to activate a biometric system so that people who come in and out of the campuses are monitored. Secondly, at CPUT students must pay for their student cards. We have requested that student cards should be made free for students. These private security guards intimidate us and even show us guns.
Ms Ganyile said that the 4 by 4 Task Team meeting mentioned earlier is ineffective and it is not taking us anywhere as students. Resolutions taken in that committee were not implemented. We have voiced out our concerns and nothing was done by the 4 by 4 Committee. This is not working for us. We also raised the HG shuttles since 2016, as students are not happy with the services of HG shuttles and management is very much aware of this.
Ms Ganyile said that the Vice Chancellor speaks as if we have the best registration system. In actual fact we have to queue in long lines to explain our situation to the financial aid office every year. Students even sleep outside without any facilities to be hygienic. Management is aware of all the student concerns even with accommodation.
The Chairperson asked the SRC to provide a list of all suspended students and the reasons for suspension.
Mr Sipho Mokoena, former CPUT Central SRC President, said that the SRC is a statutory-recognized structure and for management to engage with it is not a favor but an obligation. Student structures are not consulted on issues of governance. Student leadership has to deal with extreme levels of arrogance from management in meetings. There is deliberate suppression of student leadership which is why protests erupt. Whenever there are student protests, the university management tends to act as if they are innocent. In the letter of response, the Vice Chancellor did not even touch on the matters that have been raised by the students.
No details were provided by management when the memorandum was issued by students. The figures provided on students who have been paid allowances are not consistent with those given to student leadership. Management pulls out all stops when it receives pressure from a higher authority.
There is no coordination amongst the departments in CPUT. Students that come from other provinces have to come to the university physically to submit proof of registration to the residence office. The students have been protesting since 2016 about the same issues. Students are appealing their rejected NSFAS applications who have passed.
After having consecutive protests on campus, a Commission of Inquiry was commissioned to investigate the impasse between management and students amongst other issues. Until today, the report has not been released. How do we move forward if the report has not been released? Management removed student leadership from the CPUT tender committee. Why?
The Chairperson interjected and thanked the student for the input. Management and student leadership are not talking to each other. The 4 by 4 platform is a good one and it must work.
Mr Mokoena continued that the nature in which the university operates is in bad faith, by virtue of us sitting here we are provisionally suspended at CPUT. This is why we do not report certain incidents as we fear for our lives and for suspensions. In 2009, the Moerane Commission Report findings were: “Executive Management sought to expel students, to remove them from campus, without any lawful basis therefore”. The Commission stated: “The university, with the knowledge of executive management imposed sanctions on 17 SRC members without a hearing and any lawful basis, thereafter suspensions were lifted by the judicial officer on an individual basis without any considered justification”. It also stated: “The Vice Chancellor expelled students from the university without students being afforded an opportunity of being heard and without any basis in law; this step was not corrected by either the judicial officer or legal services.” These same issues have been occurring since 2009.
He read out point two of the memorandum of demands: “We demand an immediate resignation of the Vice Chancellor, the Dean of Students, Mr Peter Du Plessis, and Prof Moll”. Our issue with the VC is his abuse of power. Last year in October there were allegations that the Vice Chancellor was having an unprofessional relationship with a junior staff member. The evidence can be provided to the Committee. All of this information will be divulged to the Committee once it is safe to do so.
Mr Mokoena continued that the Yekiso Commission was the result of a resolution adopted on 3 October 2017, and the commencement of its work was 1 March 2018. The Report of that Commission has not been submitted to the students. Yet everyone is seated here listening to the Vice Chancellor providing NSFAS statistics, the very same statistics that the student leadership had already sought from NSFAS when it met with the Administrator at its Wynberg office. It must be highlighted that we are not just here for allowances, the tenders remain very prevalent and he addressed this matter to students during the protest. The student leadership humbly requests the Portfolio Committee and the Council to conduct a thorough investigation of the tendering process at CPUT on who are the shareholders and executive members of Pro Events Security and Vetus Schola. At the beginning of the protest, this company was the first one to arrive at CPUT. Within two days of their arrival, Pro Events Security was removed from the campus and Vetus Schola was present. The student leadership wants to know what happened to the Pro Events Security contract and the amount of money charged by Vetus Schola compared to Pro Events Security. As student leadership, we have hosted student events on campus and we know that Pro Events charges R46 000 for both security and fencing for one night. In 2017 after the protest, the Vice Chancellor claimed in the media that CPUT spent R13 million on security which would be Vetus Schola.
The Chairperson indicated that Members have heard the students’ frustration and one gets a sense of what is happening versus what has been done by management. He suggested a follow up engagement as the issues were not sufficiently dealt with today. Members need to get the response from Council on the student memorandum and engage with Council on that.
It appears that management has responded to the memorandum but the Council needs to pronounce itself as issues are happening at the university that need the attention of the Council. The Committee expected additional information from both the students and management, particularly on the suspensions.
On the 4 by 4 Committee, it looks like the decisions made at that platform are not followed up. He questioned why the Vice Chancellor was not part of that structure. He requested that the Vice Chancellor be part of the 4 by 4 structure. Most of the problems could be resolved by that structure. He requested the Yekiso Commission reports but Council must also peruse those reports and furnish a response to those reports.
The Chairperson asked why students were being pepper-sprayed on campus.
Ms Coopoo replied that the incident referred to by the SRC Secretary General occurred on the weekend when the students were being unruly and did ignored security guard requests for the student cards. The students were said to be drunk and rude towards the security guards.
The Chairperson said that is not acceptable, the security guards should utilize other means but not pepper spray students. The one concern that keeps coming up is the militarization on campus. However, there is also an argument by management that students are destroying property. The student leadership says that it condemns that behavior but it is happening. These institutions should not be militarized in the manner they are currently being militarized.
Mr Mokoena appealed to the Chairperson to request management to furnish both versions of the Yekiso Commission Report. Judge Yekiso concluded the matter and issued a final report which the Council was not happy about because it felt that it did not get an opportunity to respond. So then a second version was concocted. We request that both versions be provided to the Committee by Council. Lastly, the student leadership has been asked by management to attend a meeting at an undisclosed location tomorrow. He wanted to put it on record that in light of the events that have occurred, we might not be able to do so.
Prof Nhlapo said that all requested information as well as the two Commission Reports would be provided.
The meeting was adjourned.
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