Lebo Mamooe* a Minning Engineering student shares his story on his battle to get funding.
My name is Lebo Mamooe*. I am studying Mining Engineering and I am in my second year.
I’ve always been passionate about mining and I always knew I wanted to be a Witsie so I worked hard and got accepted last year. What I didn’t know is what a financial strain it would be to follow my dreams.
Last year I only did a few courses and I managed to raise money for registration. My sister took out a loan so I managed to pay my registration fee but still I didn’t have money for my fees.
So I first went to the School of Mining Engineering and they said they would be able to help me out for some of the about R20 000 I owed. I got around R8 000 for them to contribute to my overall fees.
The year was now drawing to an end and the university was expecting me to pay back the money but I couldn’t raise the money for it.
I went to the SRC to find some kind of solution but that’s when the #FeeMustFall protest action started.
This brought some hope for people like me. The feeling that we didn’t have to fight the system alone, and I wasn’t the only one going through the struggle. We as the students were all standing together for a cause against a system that I had been in a losing battle against all year long.
But as much as the protesting was happening I still had exams and outstanding fees to pay and at the time I couldn’t find anyone to talk to. Anyone to help me.
So I waited until this year. When I came back I didn’t know what to do. I knew I had the outstanding amount and again I didn’t have the money to pay it back.
This year when I came to campus I was told just so I could register I must go to the fees office and sign the AOD [acknowledgement of debt] document. I didn’t really know what it was or what it was about I was just told that “Ok you want to register and you have outstanding fees, you need to sign this form and go register.” So I did.
I am now aware that by March 31 I must have paid back the money that is due, oddly I found out from a friend of mine who is in the same situation. Since mid-February I have been trying to raise funds to pay back the registration fee and last year’s fees.
Luckily I was selected from a group of students I have managed to secure funding from an individual sponsor for this year but I live in White City, Soweto so my sister had to provide me with money to travel to and from school every day.
Despite all of this the burden of my outstanding debt still hangs over my head.
*Names have been changed
**As told to Thembisile Dzonzi