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Students sue govt over study loan about-turn

Business

Sekete Lesaoana

Eight postgraduate students are suing the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) to renew their contracts to study in South Africa.

According to the aggrieved students, the government through NMDS, seems to be going back on its 2021 decision to allow past sponsees to obtain further study loans despite not repaying the requisite 50 percent of their outstanding study loans.   

“We want NMDS to renew our contracts and allow us to proceed with the second year of study,” one of the students Lemohang Mateyisi, said in an affidavit.

“The NMDS is resisting to renew our loan bursary agreements, yet we have fulfilled all the conditions that satisfy the criteria for the renewal,” Mateyisi added.

He told the court that he is a fully registered student of the Stellenbosch University of South Africa, “enrolled in Masters of Industrial Engineering in Data Science.”

He said the duration of the programme is three years.

The NMDS, according to the students’ lawyer Kelebone Monate, says Masters programmes should be completed in one academic year. It is, therefore, allegedly refusing to pay for the second and third years of study.

The other seven students are Napo Molahlehi, Nthabiseng Lekaota, Montšeng Ramafikeng, Masupha Motseki, Karabo Senyane, Hlompho Ramorakane, and Tšooana Mosebi.

In his affidavit, Mateyisi says the government of Lesotho, through a cabinet decision, took a position that to achieve inclusive growth, studying opportunities should be opened to every hardworking Mosotho national to study abroad, come to work in Lesotho after completion of their studies.

He says the decision was during the leadership of Dr Moeketsi Majoro, now former prime minister. Majoro became prime minister in May 2020 and left office in October last year.

As a result of the cabinet resolution, they fully registered and enrolled as students of different Universities in South Africa in 2022.

“They have passed their 1st year’s academic studies and there are administrative hiccups when their loans bursary contracts are supposed to be renewed for this academic year,” their lawyer, monate, said.

They want the court to order that the implementation of the decision not to renew their loan bursary agreements be postponed pending a determination of the policy of the new government led by prime minister Ntsokoane Sam Matekane.

They also want the court to review and set aside the NMDS’s decision not to renew the contracts. The decision not to renew their contracts should be declared a breach of contract, they said.

They further want an order directing the NMDS to “make payment of tuition fees and or transmit the funds in respect of liabilities for which payment is due to the affected universities according to the loan bursary agreement.”

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