Hundreds of people queued in the blazing sun outside the University of Johannesburg on Monday to enquire if they have been accepted to study or if they can change their courses.
The long lines persisted even as the university was handing out flyers stating it was not accepting walk-in students and that other queries could be addressed online.
The university set up a link on its website‚ that can be accessed by cellphone‚ for late applications.
Many of those in the queue were on the waiting list for spaces to study.
Student Amishka Hiralal was queuing to ask if she could switch courses from a B. Com to nuclear medicine.
Karabo Sebela was on the waiting list to study law. She was at the UJ to see if she has been accepted. Sebela applied to study law in 2017‚ "but there was no space so I applied again to study this year".
The flyers UJ staff were handing out explained that students needed to wait to receive an e-mail or sms confirming if a place had become available or not.
Marcia Godlo wants to study teaching but had not applied to do so. She raised enough money to travel from the Western Cape to apply in person at UJ. She said she could not afford to apply to university before September 30 when applications closed.
"I don’t want to live in the Western Cape. It is easier for a black woman here (in Gauteng).
"I don’t have money to go back. I am crashing at a friend’s place."
As a former community worker‚ she was hoping to get a place to study either teaching or social work. "I prayed about it and God said I should do teaching."
She said she was trusting God that she would be accepted but knew nothing of the online process.
EFF members were not visible at UJ despite the party promising it would force universities to accept more students.
Potential students were queuing calmly and being let into the campus slowly to prevent a stampede. The queues moved slowly because the computer system crashed on Monday morning.
Universities South Africa, which represents all the countries’ public universities, has pleaded with potential students to apply on cach.dhet.gov.za for a possible space‚ noting that applications closed last year.
It warned of violence if people queued — as happened at the UJ campus in 2012, resulting in one fatality.
However‚ the EFF continued to call for students to apply at campuses in person‚ following President Jacob Zuma’s promise of free education for the working class.
Higher Education Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize was meeting with university vice-chancellors on Monday to discuss free education and concerns about walk-in students.