As a result of the two-month delay, some students used the book allowance to buy groceries. 

On April 8, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) paid students funded by the scheme their living allowances for February and March. Many Wits students have now been able to buy groceries, toiletries and books after receiving R3 000 to cover the two months.

In an April 5 statement, the scheme said that it had budget constraints as it was waiting for the national treasury to allocate its annual budget for 2022. Wits Vuvuzela reached out to Nsfas spokesperson Kagisho Mamabolo for the scheme’s point of view, but after a number of phone calls and emails over several days, he had not responded at the time of publishing.

According to three second-year Nsfas-funded students, they only received a book allowance of R5 200 at the end of March. The students, all from single-parent households in Soweto, said they depended solely on Nsfas to buy groceries and textbooks. *Bheki Magubane from Diepkloof, who lives at Yale Village during term, is studying towards a bachelor of science. He said “It has been tough surviving with [a] book allowance. I didn’t buy some books having to sacrifice.”

SRC treasurer Ontswikisa Masindi, who deals with Nsfas appeals and allowances, blamed the Wits administrative office. “Funds were allocated to getting the graduation list ready. No-one was focusing on getting the allowances ready.”

Because of this delay, the SRC had to send students to the Wits Citizenship and Community Outreach, to receive food packages.

Wits students queue to receive lunch from the WCCO. Photo: Malaika Ditabo

Masindi said that the absence of a Nsfas head office in Gauteng has worsened matters over the years, and that the communication gap between tertiary institutions, students and Nsfas had made processes such as applying for funding and appeals, difficult.

Wits Nsfas supervisor Portia Simelane told Wits Vuvuzela she was not authorised to comment. Central office manager Charlene Timmerman, who is authorised, was on leave.

*Not his real name


FEATURED IMAGE: Lunch served to students by volunteers at WCCO. Photo: Malaika Ditabo