Student protests over unpaid meal grants at the University of Venda (Univen) continues. Yesterday, academic activity was suspended as protests shut down the main campus.

The main campus, located in Thohoyandou, was barricaded with burning rubble. The situation proved to be volatile as police used rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. However, according to media reports this was unsuccessful as students continued to regroup.

According to students they have not received meal grants since the start of the year and now they are demanding payment of their meal allowance. Students have said that because of unpaid meal grants, they have been living like “beggars”.

Takalani Dzaga, Univen spokeperson, told Zoutnet that the university held a meeting with students last week in an attempt to find a solution to the issue. Dzaga said, “We are going to sit down again with the students and we are seeking a speedy resolution to the problem, so that students won’t lose much of their academic work. We will also engage NSFAS and see how they can help our students.”

The majority of students at Univen are poor and come from disadvantaged backgrounds. These students depend on the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for tuition and meal grants. Univen students have expressed their grievances and have indicated that NSFAS has not been ready to listen to their demands.

Written by Jody Davison