About 700 nursing candidates who cannot afford fees this year at Gauteng colleges will be left out in the cold.
Yesterday, Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) president Simon Hlungwani said they had received complaints from distressed candidates who qualified for the four-year nursing diploma.
Hlungwani said candidates were informed there would be no intake for this year despite their completion of the selection process.
Candidates had applied to various institutions including Ann Latsky, Chris Hani Baragwanath and SG Lourens nursing colleges.
Hlungwani said the union was concerned that this would worsen the existing shortage of nurses.
He said a gap in the training of nurses would impact heavily on previously disadvantaged communities who relied on the public healthcare system.
Lerato Madumo Gova from the Young Nurses Indaba Trade Union said some candidates who went through psychometric tests, interviews and medical screening forfeited other opportunities because they had passed all the requirements for the nurse course and were looking forward to begin studying and training as nurses.
"This is dire to the training of nurses. It is going to impact on students and citizens," she said.
Gova said unions would push to meet with health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa to try and resolve the matter.
A 27-year-old mother of two from Soweto who had applied was distressed by the turn of events. "I'm stressed. I can't even sleep at night."
The woman showed Sowetan SMSes she received.
"Please come for collection of a provisional acceptance letter for nursing course at Chris Hani Baragwanath Nursing College at 08h00 on 21 December 2017," the SMS stated.
This was followed by another message informing her not to fetch the document.
"There are new developments regarding 2018 student intake. Please do not report at Bara Nursing College tomorrow until further notice."
Another disappointed candidate said she abandoned her job hunt after she passed the interviews last year.
The 22-year-old said: "They are telling us a lot of stories. I'm devastated. I don't even know what to think."
Spokesman at the provincial department Lesemang Matuka said they would continue to fund second, third and fourth year students. He said colleges would only admit first-year students with external bursaries or those who can afford to pay the fees themselves.
"At this juncture we cannot afford R57-million required to fund first year students."
He said 700 candidates were affected.
By Zoë Mahopo, South Africa
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