Angry FS students burn vehicles, buildings

Some of the vehicles torched by students at the Maluti TVET College in Bethlehem, Free State over the weekend. PHOTO: FACEBOOK

Frustrations over poor infrastructure and alleged corruption and mismanagement have led to violent protests at Maluti TVET College in the Free State, which resulted in R15 million worth of damages.
After seven weeks of no learning and teaching at Maluti TVET campuses, enraged students torched five vehicles and offices at the Bethlehem campus over the weekend.
Police spokesperson Sergeant Mmako Mophiring said yesterday that students had been gathering at the main campus every morning to protest, adding that officers were still monitoring the campus.
“Students threw petrol bombs at the vehicles and the building. Three sedan vehicles were torched along with two minibuses and office buildings. When police arrived, the culprits had fled,” he said.
Mophiring said they were investigating cases of malicious damage to property and public violence.
“A case has been opened and no arrests have been made so far.”
Maluti TVET student representative council (SRC) president, Tshidiso Nhlapo, said students were demanding that the principal step down, after several corruption accusations and the mismanagement of college funds.
“The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) allocated R22 000 for accommodation and R9000 for trans – port to students but this money still hasn’t been allocated to all students,” Nhlapo said.
He also emphasised the poor infrastructure of Sefikeng campus, despite it being built last year.
“We asked management to call the construction company to fix the building, but the principal told us that it wasn’t our concern.
“We have many issues here and we’ve continuously asked for the principal to step down because he has failed to do his duties.”
Nhlapo said it had been 11 weeks of no learning and teaching at Sefikeng and students were told that institutions were closed until further notice.
“Last week, the SRC had a meeting with management and we submitted a memorandum with a list of demands that needed to be addressed, along with addressing the removal of the principal,” he said. “We are still waiting for a response from them.”
The college management said they would soon be meeting the higher education and training department to find answers to students’ demands.
“We are aware that the students are protesting for a number of issues such as NSFAS bursaries, academic challenges, health and safety issues, and the removal of the principal.”
Management also said the violent protest had affected teaching because eight offices and vehicles, all belonging to the college, had been damaged.
“Students are currently not attending. Staff and non-striking students are still traumatised but no physical injuries were reported,” they said.
Maluti TVET was investigating options on how to recover losses. – Sanele Gumada/The Citizen