Ricochet News

Walter Sisulu University interns say stipend bungle has made life tough for them

By Yolanda Palezweni - Jul 5, 2017
Walter Sisulu University interns say stipend bungle has made life tough for them

More than 100 disgruntled Walter Sisulu University students have lodged a complaint at the Department of Labour against their former university after they did not receive their internship stipends for more than three months.

The graduates - from the Marketing, Finance, Nursing and Finance faculties at the Walter Sisulu University, claim that university was funded to the tune of R4 million by the BANKSETA GRADUATE  programme for it to place them at workplaces relevant to their qualifications for a period of between 6 and 12 months.

According to one of the graduates, who spoke to RNEWS on condition of anonymity, they been working for more than three months and never received their promised stipends.

“We started the internship programme on March this year, and we’ve been promised that we’ll receive R3 500 every month, but we’ve never received anything,” she said.

She added that, after not receiving the stipends for almost three months, they contacted BANKSETA and were told to deal with the institution as the matter is no longer in their hands.

“We contacted BANKSETA and they told us to contact our university and we did that. Until now, we haven’t received a straight answer from the institution of when are we actually going to receive our stipends,” she said.

She added that they went to the university's Human Resource department at the main campus in Berlin and were told that they will receive their payments in June.

“We went to the finance officer on Monday and we were told that they finished capturing our documents two weeks ago,” she said.

However, she said that when they went to the payroll office, they were told that they never received their documents and that if they are not captured before the 7th of July, they won’t get paid in July.

The graduates told RNEWS that while the institution has been stalling with their payments, they have been struggling to survive daily while on their internships.

“Ever since we started with the internships with no income, we’ve been struggling with transport, rent and buying groceries. We keep on borrowing every month so that we can survive and complete the internships,” she said. 

“We’ve done everything that they asked us to do and submitted every document that they required. We don’t understand why we are not receiving our stipends."

According to her, some students have had to make the difficult choice of dropping out of the programme altogether as they could not fund themselves.

“We know that internships are a good opportunity for us to gain valuable workplace skills and experience, but without the promised stipends to sustain ourselves , it is just too much,” she said.

“I have no parents and I’ve been struggling. I had hoped that this internship would be an opportunity to get my career going, but now I just don’t know what to do."

She said that the interns are currently working at various organisations including at the East London IDZ, Cecilia Makhiwane Hospital, Correction Services in East London, Department of Labour Mthatha, at other organisations in Mthatha, in Queenstown, Port Elizabeth and King WilliamsTown.

RNEWS contacted Walter Sisulu University spokesperson, Yonela Tukwayo, who said that she had no knowledge of the matter.

Tukwayo said that she will investigate and do follow up with the institution's director.