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Thuli Madonsela to climb Table Mountain to help students struggling to pay university fees

21 November 2020 - 11:00 By unathi nkanjeni
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela is to raise funds for students struggling to pay fees.
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela is to raise funds for students struggling to pay fees.
Image: Gallo Images/Darren Stewart

Former public protector Thuli Madonsela will raise funds for students struggling to pay their way through university by climbing Table Mountain this weekend.

Madonsela and Stellenbosch University student representative council (SRC) chairperson Xola Njengele will lead the climb up Table Mountain on Sunday.

The initiative is to raise funds for students from working-class and middle income households.

Madonsela and Njengele will also be leading a walkathon on November 28 in Pniel, just outside Stellenbosch.

The two events form part of the #Action4Inclusion Campaign, a student funding initiative established earlier this year by Madonsela, who is the law trust chairperson in social justice and a law professor at the university.

According to Madonsela, the initiative is to help ensure that no student is left behind due to their financial circumstances. All funds raised will go towards paying of debt for the students.

“Student debt is a global impediment to access to higher education for many students, with some forced to abandon their studies when they are about to complete their degrees,” said Madonsela.

“The problem primarily affects students from the so-called missing middle and students from poor working-class backgrounds that have fallen off the national student financial aid scheme (NSFAS) criteria, often for reasons beyond their control.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown us a curveball this year, but with the relaxed restrictions, we are now ready to embark on our planned activities — of course with the necessary safety precautions in place.”

Last month, NSFAS defunded 5,000 students for the 2020 academic year after financial information obtained from the SA Revenue Service revealed that they misrepresented their family incomes.  

The revenue service revealed that the students' total household family income was above the R350,000 threshold.

Defending the decision, higher education minister Blade Nzimande said the government would not tolerate corruption from students.

“The fact is that the NSFAS discovered there are students who lied about their family income. We must nail them, just as the Zondo commission is nailing people, just like the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] and just like the Hawks,” he said.

Those who wish to participate in the climbing of Table Mountain with Madonsela can purchase a ticket at R54 per person.

Tickets for the Walkathon cost R150 per person and can be purchased on the day of the event or funds can be deposited into the #ActionforInclusion account.