The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has had some explaining to do as it has been accused of having essentially contributed to a student’s death.
eThekwini TVET College student Yonwaba Manyanya is said to have died, allegedly from hunger and fatigue after spending three days sleeping outside the campus.
This sparked outrage amongst South Africans who demanded that NSFAS and by extension government, be held responsible for Manyanya’s death.
NSFAS denies Manyanya was a registered recipient
Many on social media had claimed NSFAS failed to pay Yonwaba Manyanya all her allowances, which left her destitute. However, according to the scheme, Manyanya had not been registered as a recipient for the current academic year.
“NSFAS is saddened by the untimely passing of Ms Yonwaba Manyanya, a student from eThekwini TVET College. According to our records, Yonwaba was last funded by NSFAS in 2020 and not in 2021,” it said.
“It has been confirmed that this horrific incident is unrelated to NSFAS, but any loss of life is devastating especially of a student. We wish to extend our condolences to her family during this difficult time.”
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS)
The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) has been amongst the latest to react to the tragedy. The federation has acknowledged that while the scheme may not be directly to blame for Manyanya’s death, it isn’t necessarily free them of any responsibility.
“That NSFAS was not funding Yonwaba this academic year, does not absolve it. If anything, this is an indictment on NSFAS and the whole fees-grant model which has been preferred by the ‘communist’ minister, policy makers and treasury,” SAFTU’s Zwelenzima Vavi said.
“NSFAS is supposed to support the working class youth whose household annual income is less than R350 000. That it did not fund Yonwaba in the first place is not absolution but a dent. How else should Yonwabo, who relied on her poor parents and her now unemployment brother, have raised money for tuition and living expenses?”
Saftu secretary-general Zwelenzima Vavi