PRETORIA, Deputy Minister of Higher Education Buti Manamela has urged South African students seeking to enter institutions of higher learning to co-operate in their registration process as tens of thousands of high school graduates flock to secure the limited places at universities, colleges and technical and vocational training institutions.

Six people were injured at the Capricorn Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college in Polokwane in Limpopo Province during a stampede when hopeful applicants rushed through the gate on Thursday morning, and a further two prospective students were struck by a vehicle.

Capricorn TVET college was forced to suspend registration for the 2018 academic year until Monday following the stampede. The situation later calmed down after police and paramedics arrived at the scene and transported the injured to various healthcare centres.

Manamela met with the principals of all TVET colleges at the Ekurhuleni West TVET College in Germiston, near here, and was briefed on the situation at the Polokwane and Seshego Campuses of the Capricorn TVET College in Limpopo.

We appeal to all prospective students to ensure that they have all the necessary documents to enable the colleges to handle their applications and registration swiftly. I urge all students to follow the procedures for application and registration so that we can resume learning and teaching on Monday, Manamela said.

We remain grateful for the outstanding work by our security personnel, the police and the paramedics in the manner in which they managed the situation.

Manamela said discussions were underway between college management, the city council of Polokwane and the South African Police Services to identify an alternative and more suitable venue for registrations.

The opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party has demanded that institutions of higher learning allow walk-in registrations for those who did not meet the deadline for online applications. The party also instructed prospective students to report to these institutions following President Jacob Zuma’s announcement of free higher education last month.

Manamela reiterated that although online applications remained the primary method for applications at institutions higher education, universities and colleges are encouraged to assist and set up mechanisms in anticipation of any late walk-in applications as a precaution.

The leading opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA) put the blame for the stampede at Capricorn TVET college on the EFF, saying that the radical party must take responsibility for the injuries of applicants because of its call to students to storm institutions in making walk-in applications.