A group of 53 medical students from Mpumalanga being funded by the provincial government to study in Russia have vowed not to return to Astrakhan State University, claiming it was like a "sangoma's hut". According to a Sowetan report, the 53 students and their parents marched to the Mpumalanga government last week demanding to be removed from the university and also demanding the removal of a middle man facilitating for students in the province to study in Russia.
The students accused the middleman, known only as "Racus", of telling female students to engage in prostitution to avoid paying too much in taxi fares.
The students, who are in their third year of study, said they have never had practicals, the university has no laboratory and it looked like a dump site.
"First when we went there in 2016 they left us (stranded) at night without enough money. When we told the Racus guy, he told us that female students should wear short skirts to make the taxi drivers lower their prices. There are no functional labs, no English as a medium of instruction," medical student Sibusiso Sikhosana said. "We have written to the department of education in the province but they are not coming to the fore to help. It's like we have been dumped at this university while other students in other universities are studying serious things. We don't want to come here and kill people instead of healing them."
Nothando Mamba is quoted in the report as saying that the taxi driver Racus hired for them from the airport in 2016 told her to come have a "Russian bath". "He told me to go sleep in his house. He showed me a pornographic video and when I refused he threw our bags out of his car and left us on a highway at night," she said. "Our nightmare started there and when we go to the university it was worse because what we came for is not happening."
Mamba's father Elijah said as parents they could not stand by as their children's future was being ruined. "We heard about the ordeal in Russia and tried to talk to the department of education for all these years, but they have not been helping. We cannot have our children going back to that university. We need them to be transferred to a proper university," he is quoted as saying.
The report says the office of premier Refilwe Mtsweni promised that it would look into the matter. "The provincial government will send a fact-finding mission to the university in Russia before any decision can be made," Mtsweni's spokesperson Zibonele Mncwango said.
[link url="https://www.sowetanlive.co.za/news/south-africa/2018-08-30-medical-students-expose-russian-varsity-hell/"]Sowetan report[/link]