A semester without stipends has resulted in a student sleeping in the labs. 

A group of 42 Drama for Life (DfL) department and Wits School of Arts (WSOA) students say they have not been paid their monthly stipends for the entire first semester.

The students, who are on a Culture, Art, Tourism, Hospitality, and Sport Sector Education and Training Authority (Cathsseta) bursary and internship say that they have been unable to pay rent, transport and monthly expenses.

BA Honours in Music Composition and Jazz student, Nhlanhla Ngqaqu, told Wits Vuvuzela that the students on Cathsseta’s Work Integrated Learning Programme (WIL) were told by DfL in May that the reason for the delayed payment was the resignation of a DfL administrator.

Zanele Siko, a masters student in drama therapy, told Wits Vuvuzela that she had not received any official communication from Cathsseta since signing her contract.

“We started asking DfL about our stipends of R3 000 per month in March as some of us weren’t working and needed the money to pay rent. Some of us didn’t have accommodation. I resorted to sleeping in the WSOA postgraduate labs as the money wasn’t coming in and I had no other means to pay rent,” Siko said.

She told Wits Vuvuzela that the students on the internship had to complete 40 hours per month in order to receive their stipends and sign a register that had to be submitted to DfL.

She said that she had submitted all her registers for the worked hours yet only the white students had been paid their money by Cathsseta at the beginning of this semester.

However, skills liaison officer for Cathsseta, Thabi Dlamini, told Wits Vuvuzela that they had honoured their obligations to all five of their bursary students, black and white.

She said DfL applies for a grant and when they receive the grant, they are supposed to use that money to pay the student stipends and claim back the money from Cathsseta.

“DfL had not submitted monthly registers of students and proof of learners’ stipends to Cathsseta for the past six months in order to claim their payments from us. It started accumulating each month because they were not paying the learners,” Dlamini said.

“We paid the missing amount of R27 000 per student in June for the five students.”

Siko told Wits Vuvuzela the students had not received this money.

“I have only received two payments this semester and the rest is still missing. I don’t know when or how I will receive the missing amount.”

Wits Vuvuzela contacted DfL for their side of the story but was told that the lack of payment of students’ stipends had been taken to the Wits Legal Office to be resolved, and no further comment would be made.

Buhle Zuma, the Wits University senior communications officer, said, “The matter was brought to the attention of the Legal Office of the university.
Even though the university is not a party to the contractual arrangements between the Cathsseta and the individual students, the Legal Office is attempting to facilitate the resolution of the matter.”

FEATURED IMAGE: Drama for life at Wits University.   Photo: Onke Ngcuka