Thursday, 11 March 2021

Cape Town: In the aftermath of the passing of bystander, Mthokozisi Ntumba, during a student protest on Wednesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa says government will not abandon its students.

He said this when he addressed the National House of Traditional Leaders in Parliament on Thursday.

“We will not abandon our students. We will fund their education because it is their right.

“They have a right to education and our government, as much as we are facing enormous difficulties and challenges, will continue to find solutions because funding education is an investment,” he said.

The President said this not long after Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, announced that Cabinet had agreed funding should be reprioritised from the department’s budget in order to ensure that all deserving NSFAS-qualifying students are able to receive funding support for the 2021 academic year.

The President, in his address, extended his deepest condolences to Ntumba’s family.

Ntumba was reportedly on his way from receiving medical attention when he was allegedly caught in the crossfire as police were dispersing protestors near WITS University in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

The President said the circumstances that led to Ntumba’s death must be thoroughly investigated and the law must take its course.

The President said in as much as government is faced with enormous challenges and difficulties, education is a top priority for government.

“When the Minister of Higher Education, Dr Blade Nzimande, came to me and informed me that we are facing a huge problem in that the funding that we have for NSFAS is not going to be sufficient to fund the new intakes and also to extend those who are already in the system and there was a huge gap that ran into billions and I said to him – Minister, we have to find a solution.

“The process of addressing this was then commenced and there was good interaction between Higher Education and [National] Treasury.”

The President said fortunately the matter was properly discussed by Cabinet yesterday and the relevant decision was taken.