Stampede: UJ rapped
Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande yesterday introduced a centralised system to deal with late applications for tertiary education in an attempt to prevent stampedes similar to the one that claimed the life of an applicant's mother outside the University of Johannesburg earlier this year.
Nzimande said his department had since April been running a campaign offering matric pupils career guidance and urging them to apply for admission to tertiary educational institutions early .
In January, Gloria Sekwena, 47, was killed in a stampede after queuing for hours outside the University of Johannesburg, where she had gone to submit a late application on behalf of her son. The death pushed Nzimande into acting.
He said yesterday that part of the first phase of the new central applications system, the "clearing house", would be implemented this year .
"The initial phase has been developed to ensure that applications are better-managed and that the number of walk-ins [is] decreased," he said.
Nzimande said that the implementation of the clearing house would be supported by an already established career advice call centre run by the SA Qualifications Authority.
"The main purpose of the clearing house will be to support and guide the 2012 matric learners who want to be admitted [to] institutions of higher learning in 2013 but have not yet been accepted anywhere.
"It will assist Grade 12 learners who fulfil the minimum requirements for bachelor, diploma or certificate studies but have not applied to an institution.
"The clearing house is also targeting learners who were not successful during the application period this year, and those who will only start looking for admission after receiving their final Grade 12 results," he said.
The department will not be able to implement the system in its entirety until next year.
A day after the stampede, Professor Ihron Rensburg, UJ's vice-chancellor, announced that an independent inquiry would be commissioned to investigate.
The inquiry, headed by retired Constitutional Court judge Yvonne Mokgoro, presented its report in May. Rensburg sent it to Nzimande over a week ago.
On UJ's website, Rensburg said that, according to the report, the university had failed to comply with safety standards.
The report also blamed the university's decision to close its Canary Road entrance and said diverting matriculants to the Bunting Road campus's Annet Road entrance "caused a dangerous situation, given the very large numbers of people queuing at the entrance".
It recommended that the university appoint an events safety manager.
Rensburg, who was not available for comment yesterday, did not say if anyone would be held liable. He said "no 'walk-in' late applications would be allowed in 2013".