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Wednesday, 11 January 2012 14:17

Calls for probe into UJ stampede

The government has called for a "full investigation" into the death of a woman during a stampede at the University of Johannesburg.
“This is an unfortunate incident which we hope will be fully investigated," government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi said on Tuesday night. Manyi sent his condolences to the affected families.

The Times newspaper on Wednesday identified the woman who was killed when crowds forced their way onto the campus as Gloria Sekwena, 47, the mother of prospective student Kgositsile Sekwena.

She was described as a loving and dedicated mother who had high hopes for her eldest son.

After the incident, Nzimande told journalists that crowds descending on universities for late applications was a nationwide problem every year, but that UJ seemed to attract a lot more people.

The Beeld reported on Wednesday that the Democratic Alliance had criticised Nzimande, accusing him of saying last year that the long queues outside UJ were a "wonderful problem."

Nzimande said on Tuesday that the department was hoping to have centralised registration in place by next year and would provide more information at schools on the applications process.

"Government calls on candidates to take the necessary, timeous steps to secure entry to tertiary institutions and calls on such institutions to take measures to make these processes as smooth and efficient as possible for candidates," said Manyi.

The higher education department was considering halting last-minute university applications after a woman was killed in a stampede at the University of Johannesburg on Tuesday, Minister Blade Nzimande said.

The University of Johannesburg is one of few universities countrywide that accepts last-minute applications from prospective students who achieved unexpected university entrance passes.

The university's vice chancellor, Ihron Rensburg, said the volume of applications for the current academic year was 85 000, much higher than the 67 000 of last year.

He said 99% of this year's applicants were seeking admission for undergraduate studies.

"We are the only university that offers diploma courses at undergraduate level. Our undergraduate entry requirements make many high school graduates apply to this institution because of the high chances of being admitted," said Rensburg.

Nzimande expressed concern that prospective students did not have enough information on the application process and that Further Education and Training colleges were good alternatives for study.

He said some prospective students did not know what they wanted to study and this "clogged" queues because of "on the spot counselling".

The department hoped to roll out a centralised admissions process, currently being piloted in KwaZulu-Natal, to avoid incidents such as Tuesday's, said Nzimande.

Darul Ihsan Media Desk

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