University of Limpopo (UL) students embarked on a violent protest on Wednesday, setting alight a security guard house, uprooting the university’s fence and blockading roads that lead to the university.
The students were protesting over the non-payment of their off-campus accommodation allowance.
The disgruntled students claim they have not received the allowance since the start of the 2022 academic year.
A member of the Student Representative Council (SRC) told The Citizen that another issue that fuelled the strike is that they were told by their landlords that the university management is also trying to decrease their off campus allowance.
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No off-campus allowance for nine months
“They want to reduce our allowances because they want to loot our money. Another thing is the whole nine months without accommodation allowance, what do they think we pay our rent with?”
“We end up using our food allowance to pay for the rent, some students end up sleeping with their landlords and caretakers just to have a place to stay,” said the student, who did not want to be named.
There are also students who are still yet to receive their food allowances, while others receive as little as R13 per month.
The student said the university used to pay their food allowances in installments, which led to some of them getting more money than they should have due to administrative errors.
“The management used to give us our [monthly] meal allowance by half of the total amount, so what happened is they ended up over paying us. As a result they have decreased most students’ food allowance.”
Unhappiness with lease agreement
UL’s Registrar Professor Kwena Masha said they received a memorandum of demands from students and their landlords at 7am on Wednesday before the protests ensued in the afternoon.
Masha said they engaged with the students in the evening and hoped for calm and for normal university activities to resume on Thursday.
“The challenge with the accommodation allowance is the NSFAS policy requires the landlord and student to sign a lease agreement, which details how much they are charging for their accommodation so the payment can be made directly to the landlord,” he said.
He said the students are unhappy with this arrangement, as they want the allowances to be paid directly to them.
Some of the landlords agree with the students because they are worried about tax issues.
Following the protest, some students who stay at their own homes have received their transport allowances but the ones for accommodation allowances are yet to get their money.