The Sizofunda Ngenkani Emergency Fund, launched by the Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) and Wits University late last month has already gone into a deficit of nearly R2 million. This is according to SRC president, Orediretse Masebe.

The Sizofunda Ngenkani Emergency Fund, launched by the Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) and Wits University late last month has already gone into a deficit of nearly R2 million. This is according to SRC president, Orediretse Masebe.

The fund of R10 million was set up after the university redirected funds to bail out returning students who could not register or receive accommodation due to outstanding fees.

Masebe said, “At times we stretched the limits of our agreements with management but from the get go we were always prepared to do so for the sake of students even though the backlash was harsh from the side of the University. We went about two million above budget and we are of the view that this is only the start. Until each and every query received is properly responded to we have not done the job.”

According to Masebe, the SRC did not borrow any money to meet the deficit. “We just kept sending more and more students to the Fees Office and they had to assist them. Even though the fund had apparently been ‘exhausted’, we just kept on assisting students,” Masebe said.

Fees Office Manager, Ismail Soobader said the additional needs of the students were met  through the SRC’s Humanitarian Fund. He added that other students were assisted through the Wits Discretionary fund.

Wits Financial Accounting Senior Manager, Amanda Kort, said that about 400 applicants had received funding for assistance with registration, payment of 50% of historical debt, and assistance to pay the 20% upfront payment for residences.

According to Kort, R7 million of the fund has been used to register students for the 2018 academic year. “The review process is still in progress. Disbursement to students is being made as amounts are approved.” she said.

“The painful thing is that it’s almost impossible to trace who still needs to register, who had already contacted the SRC prior. Students don’t report back on the success of their cases so we keep pushing because it’s too early to have a clear overview of the track record,” he said.

“We received just over a thousand requests and though many cases were multi-dimensional. Remember there are students who had different and sometimes exceptional needs and we had to try and be as flexible as possible,” Masebe added.

Kort told Wits Vuvuzela that “No more funds will be made available by University Council funds than the initial R10m.”

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