Elliotdale college closed as students protest

Students claim their exam papers were lost

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Students marching
Students at King Sabata Dalindyebo college in Elliotdale march on Monday. Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

Students at the King Sabata Dalindyebo college in Elliotdale have been protesting since last week, complaining that they have not been given their exam results from last year. On Tuesday about 200 students clashed with security guards and police at the Ntabozuko campus.

The protest started on Friday when 60 students did not receive some of their final year results. Since then the students have been barred from the campus.

Students said management had not explained why their results had been delayed and they feared their exam papers had been lost. The students are studying educare and human resource management among other things.

They said college principal Gert Smith had not arrived for a planned meeting on Tuesday. Students had refused to listen to other representatives of campus management and had started singing.

“We told them either they call Mr Smith or there will be no meeting because we’ve been talking with them since January with no help,” said student Unathi Mantashe.

She said management had called a security guard who had fired shots in the air, and then police had arrived. Mantashe said she had been pushed and kicked by police and the security guard.

“When I tried to stand up they both pushed me down kicking me, until students came and started shouting at them. One of the students tried to record a video clip of what was happening,” said Mantashe. She said her arm had been injured.

GroundUp saw the clip. It does not show an attack but there are sounds of students screaming, some shouting “Umbethela ntoni?” (“Why are you beating her?”) and scenes of students running.

Mantashe said this was not the first time the college had lost students’ results. In 2014 when she started at the college she didn’t get all her results, she said.

“When we tried to question them, they threatened to suspend us. We decided to let it go,” she said.

Another student, who asked not to be named, said the college had registered her as absent for her exams, yet she had signed the register..

Papama Pakkies said when students questioned management the response was threats.

“Since 2014, when we started here, people were given absent or no mark. When we asked for an explanation, we were told to repeat the subject. Last year we had five boycotts but the management threatened to suspend us and we ended up going back to classes but our grievances were not addressed. We thought things were going to be different this year but students are still getting no marks and it’s not fair because we know we passed those subjects,” said Pakkies.

Smith said marking was done by the Department of Higher Education and Training and not at college level. All colleges in the country had been affected, he said.

The college had sent a team to Pretoria to “assist the department” to release the results. Some had been released and others were “in process”, he said.

A letter had also been sent to the Chief Director for National Examinations to speed up the release of the results.

Smith blamed the strike on the local representative of the United Democratic Movement (UDM).

College management would try to convene a meeting with the local UDM and ANC offices, Smith said.

TOPICS:  Tertiary Education

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