Mandela university accused of discrimination

PORT ELIZABETH, SOUTH AFRICA (AFP) - A South African university named after Nelson Mandela has been accused of discrimination after it denied three students admission because they are blind.

The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth turned down the trio's applications saying it did not have "adequate facilities to cater for them".

"At this stage, NMMU does not provide access to students who are completely blind because the institution does not have the necessary resources to assist them," spokeswoman Roslyn Baartjies told AFP late Thursday.

Human rights activists have taken the matter up with the National Council for the Blind, which will visit the university next week for talks on the issue.

Meanwhile the students turned away by the school expressed dismay at the decision.

"My long-held dream of attending NMMU has been shattered," said Avukile Jeke, 21. "My dream was to study in the Eastern Cape and work here so I can develop my province." "What hurts most is that I was not turned away because I didn't make the grade, but because of something I did not choose for myself." Jeke, together with Lubabalo Sapepa, 21, and Yanelisa Ginida, 19, applied for a spot at the university in July.

When they went a month later to write an aptitude test, they were told it was not possible.

Their classmate, Ncebakazi Siziba, 22, who is partially blind, was admitted.

"I am pained that my friends and classmates cannot be accepted. We were together in the whole application process," Siziba said.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.