UJ to pay tuition fees of stampede victim's son

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) says it will pay the tuition fees of the man whose mother was crushed to death in a rush on the gates of its Bunting Road campus on Tuesday morning.

“Although nothing can replace the 19-year-old prospective student’s mother, UJ has offered to waive tuition for his choice of study at UJ, should he adhere to the programme choice’s admission criteria,” said registrar Marie Muller.

The university community was deeply saddened by the events at its Auckland Park Bunting Road campus on Tuesday, she said.

“Our condolences to her family and friends and our thoughts go to the other applicants who were injured during the course of the morning’s events.”

Twenty injured
Gloria Sekwena was killed and at least 20 people were injured—three of them critically—in a stampede at the university’s gates on Tuesday. She had been accompanying her son Kgositsile to see him through the applications process.

All but one of the injured had been discharged from hospitals in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

The person still in hospital was transferred from Milpark Hospital to 1 Military Hospital in Tshwane and was expected to be visited by Muller and University vice chancellor Ihron Rensburg on Wednesday.

They would then visit Sekwena’s family with Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande.

Security authorities had their hands full on Wednesday monitoring access to the university.

‘Treated like dogs’
People gathered outside the gates were allowed in only if they had their conditional application documentation.

When they would not let her in, one angry mother shouted that she had left the paperwork at home.

“I came here since Friday, but could not get in. But now you are also refusing me entry.
You are treating us like dogs,” said Colleen Jacobs.

She complained that she would now have to take more time off work to get her son into college.

Prospective student Bafana Gumede was still hoping for a chance to be allowed in, but said he realised he might have to look for something else.

“I will never ever come to the institution again—the congestion, overcrowding here will probably make it impossible for me to enjoy my studies,” he said.

Blade must be sheathed
The Pan Africanist Youth Congress called for Nzimande’s resignation on Wednesday.

“We call on the minister to do the honourable thing and resign his position,” Payco said in a statement.

“He has proven not once but too many times that he is unable to fulfil his duties.”

Payco predicted that others would die “through police brutality” when students started protesting against financial institutions next month.

The organisation blamed the ANC government for what it called the “shambles” in education, specifically for black children, and said Nzimande was out of touch.

The university closed late applications after the incident on Tuesday and said it would process only the 17 500 conditional applications it granted last year.

These were based on applications made in 2011 and which were subject to matric results and available space.

Late applications
There have been 7 000 late applications submitted to the university since Monday.

Last year, it received 85 300 applications for study in 2012. It has 11 000 places for first year undergraduate studies.

Nzimande said the government was considering ending the late application practice and planned to roll out a centralised applications system, already being used in KwaZulu-Natal.

There were also plans to build another two universities in Mpumalanga.

In a statement earlier on Wednesday, the government called for a full investigation into the incident.

“The improvements in matric pass rates ... should be cause for celebration, not tragedy ... This is an unfortunate incident which we hope will be fully investigated,” it said.—Sapa