South African Students Sent to Study in Turkey by Ace Magashule Left Stranded, 2 Awaiting Deportation

South African Students Sent to Study in Turkey by Ace Magashule Left Stranded, 2 Awaiting Deportation

  • A group of South African students who received scholarships to study in Turkey say they have been left stranded
  • Students were awarded the scholarship under the Hlasela Programme that was kicked of by former Free State premier Ace Magashule
  • These students say they have also not been able to renew their permits because they have not received stipends for several months

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ISTANBUL - Four years ago, a group of eager students on their way to pursue their high education were given the opportunity of a lifetime by then Premier of Free State Ace Magashule to further their studies.

Magashule introduced a scholarship programme and under this programme, 17 South African students were given full scholarships to study towards degrees such as Molecular Biology and Genetics, Software Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and so on.

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While the programme has been celebrated for giving students such an incredible opportunity, students have found themselves in a desperate situation since October 2021.

South African Students, Turkey, Ace Magashule, Free State, Premier, Istanbul
Almost 20 students furthering their studies in Turkey have not received their monthly stipends for several months. Image: Mlungisi Louw
Source: Getty Images

Speaking to Briefly News, Nhlanhla Mbanjwa a 27-year-old studying a Mechatronics Engineering degree at the Bhacesehir University in Istanbul, Turkey says they usually receive their stipends on the 25th of every month, however in October 2021 payments were missed.

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Mbanjwa explains that students enquired about their monthly stipends and officials informed them that payments would be made within three days. Almost four months later, students have not received their stipends and received little communication from officials.

"On the 25 of October we didn't receive our stipends and we asked the officials who are responsible and they said the matter will be fixed within three days which didn't happen.

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The same thing happened again that we didn't get our stipends on the 25th of November," said Mbanjwa.

Mbanjwa explains that things have gotten bad to the point that some students have resorted to selling off their possessions just to get a little money to buy themselves essential goods.

Despite struggling with the day-to-day expenses, Mbanjwa says they are currently in Turkey illegally because their permits have expired and that is due to the lack of funds.

Briefly News understands that two students have been taken into the custody of the Turkish authorities because they were found walking around without legal permits.

Mbanjwa says those students have been in custody for at least seven days but fortunately for them, the South African Embassy in Turkey is trying to assist them.

"Last week, two of students were caught by the police and they are waiting to be deported. Even us, we are at risk if the police request our permits. We are also going to sleep in holding cells," Mbanjwa.

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Mbanjwa explains that they are desperate and need help from the Free State province officials. Students say they help each other where they can and some students are fortunate enough to have family members from back home assisting them.

They even try to pull the available resources together to aid each other where they can.

Mbanjwa says he has not asked for help from his family or even informed them about what is happening in Turkey because he is not sure about how they will handle the news.

Briefly News has made contact with officials within the Free State premier's office, however, one official stated she could not comment and all questions should be directed to Mr Sello Pieterson, however, Pieterson had not responded at the time of publication.

Magashule's foundation silent on the issue

These issues about students being left stranded has been raised on several occasions. In September 2021, News24 reported that the Ace Magasule foundation had not responded to the allegations that students had been kicked out of their residents because of non-payment.

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It had been reported at the time that students were forced to sleep in the street and on park benches as a result.

Ace Magashule wants his reputation restored

In other news, Briefly News previously reported that Ace Magashule is determined to fix his tainted reputation over the corruption charges he faces over the asbestos corruption trial he and his comrades are facing.

The charges are in relation to a R255 million contract to remove asbestos roofs in the Free State. Approximately 300 000 roofs which are considered to be very dangerous are still not removed.

Five companies and 10 other individuals are facing nearly 70 charges of corruption, fraud, as well as money laundering

Source: Briefly News

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