When Mlungisi Manyanya could not reach his sister after calling her for six consecutive days, little did he know that her lifeless body had been discovered four days prior to that.
“We only got to know through Facebook that she had been found dead. Her pictures were being circulated by her friends who were studying with her at the college expressing their condolences. It was the most hurtful thing ever,” lamented Manyanya.
The 26-year-old Yonwabo Manyanya, who was studying towards a diploma in electrical and infrastructure construction at ethekwini TVET College, is alleged to have died of hunger and fatigue after spending three days sleeping outside the campus.
The student was apparently evicted from her accommodation because she could no longer pay rent owed. This after state entity NSFAS delays in paying out her funding.
Manyanya said it had been an uphill battle to get answers and circumstances that led to the tragic death of his sibling.
“The only information we have so far is through student leaders and friends. I lost my job last year and prior to that I was able to pay for her rent and groceries whenever there were problems with college funding. I had no idea that the situation was so dire, otherwise I would have encouraged her to come back home,” he added.
Student leader Mthobisi Magudulela said there were many students at the TVET college who had been evicted from their dwellings and had resorted to camping outside the campus hoping for assistance.
“The tragic death of Yonwabo highlights the neglect and harsh realities faced by poor students at ethekwini college. Her death should not go unpunished. NSFAS, together with the management of the college, must be held to account. For weeks now students have been sleeping outside the campus and some are squatting with friends because landlords have evicted them for non-payment.”
He said the student leadership has received reports of students committing suicide because of the anxiety arising from financial exclusion.
Provincial police spokeswoman Captain Nqobile Gwala said police had opened an inquest to probe the death of the student.
Ethekwini TVET College declined to comment.