The Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Buti Manamela, on Thursday urged prospective tertiary students to cooperate with institutions of higher learning in their registration process as thousands were flocking to secure the limited places.
Six people were injured at Capricorn Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college in Polokwane, in the Limpopo province, during a stampede when hopeful applicants rushed through the gate on Thursday morning, and a further two prospective students were struck by a vehicle.
Capricorn TVET college was forced to suspend registration for the 2018 academic year until Monday following the stampede. The situation later calmed down after police and paramedics came on the scene and transported the injured to various healthcare centres.
Manamela met with the principals of all TVET colleges at the Ekurhuleni West TVET College in Germiston, eKhurhuleni, where he was also briefed on the situation at the Polokwane and Seshego Campuses of the Capricorn TVET College in Limpopo.
“We appeal to all prospective students to ensure that they have all the necessary documents to enable the colleges to handle their applications and registration swiftly. I urge all students to follow the procedures for application and registration so that we can resume learning and teaching on Monday,” Manamela said.
“We remain grateful of the outstanding work by our security personnel, the police and the paramedics in the manner in which they managed the situation.”
Manamela said that discussions were currently underway between college management, the city council of Polokwane and the South African Police Services to identify an alternative and more suitable venue for registrations.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has demanded that institutions of higher learning allow walk-in registrations for those who did not meet the deadline for online applications. The party also instructed prospective students to report to these institutions following President Jacob Zuma’s announcement of free higher education last month.
But Manamela reiterated that the online applications remained the primary method for applications at higher education institutions, saying that universities and colleges are encouraged to assist and set up mechanisms in anticipation of any late walk-in applications as a precaution.
Meanwhile, the EFF called for better crowd management by higher education institutions in anticipation of high volume of prospective students.
“We call on all colleges to ensure order on the long lines of education-hungry youths. We call on them to apply basic crowd control mechanisms like barricades, marshals etc,” said the EFF in a statement.
“We admit that it is indeed a problem, but it is problem we must be eternally proud of because instead, we could be dealing with scores of youth dying on the lines of beer halls and drugs. As a matter of fact, many die in our county on the loitering streets of drugs and alcohol abuse.”
The Democratic Alliance put the blame squarely at the EFF’s feet for the stampede at the Capricorn TVET college, saying that the radical party must take responsibility for the injuries of applicants because of its call to “storm” institutions.