Following a stampede where at least six Limpopo students were injured, the EFF has called on TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) colleges to ensure the safety of those standing in long queues.
EFF national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the party had sent messages of solidarity to the students who were injured in a stampede at the Capricorn TVET college in Polokwane on Thursday morning.
"We call on all colleges to ensure order on [sic] the long lines of education-hungry youths. We call on them to apply basic crowd control mechanisms like barricades, marshals etc.," Ndlozi said in a statement.
He said the EFF, nonetheless, celebrated that the country was "seized with the problem of education-hungry youth; scores of young people who are on the lines for days, knocking on the doors of learning".
Ndlozi called on all social institutions and formations to join the EFF and its student command by ensuring that the "education-hungry youth" are given the support they need.
"We admit that it is indeed a problem, but it is a problem we must be eternally proud of because instead, we could be dealing with scores of youth dying on the lines of beer halls and drugs. As a matter of fact, many die in our country on the loitering streets of drugs and alcohol abuse," he said.
Earlier, the EFF's student command said it was "deeply saddened" by the events that led to at least six people being injured in the stampede.
Spokesperson for the student command, Mangaliso Sambo, blamed the incident on the institution's management.
"The casualties were suffered by desperate learners who were left unattended and locked out of the campus by Capricorn management for two nights until they decided to open for themselves," Sambo said.
"It is after the students decided to open the gate and access campus this morning, harshly assaulted by college security, that the Capricorn management then came to its senses and decided to offer Peter Mokaba Stadium as an open space to allow smooth registration," he said.
Limpopo police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo confirmed the incident, saying at least one student had been seriously injured.
"The situation has returned to normal after the college management decided to suspend the registration process until Monday," he said on Thursday afternoon.
Tumelo Morobe, spokesperson for Capricorn TVET college, said between 2 000 to and 2 500 prospective students had tried to gain entry to the college to apply and register.
He said some had been queuing outside the campus since Wednesday afternoon in the hope of gaining a place.
"The process has been suspended and we will continue on Monday at the Peter Mokaba Stadium," Morobe said.
He said it was a bigger venue for prospective students to apply. Should they be successful, they would be alerted via sms to register on campus, Morobe added.
The DA's spokesperson on higher education and training, Andricus van der Westhuizen, said the EFF should take full responsibility for the injuries.
"This incident further highlights how irresponsible the call by the EFF to 'storm' institutions is - some institutions specifically avoid walk-in registrations in order to prevent harm coming to any applicants and accepted students. The DA had previously warned that this would place people's safety at risk," he said.
"The call illustrates the party's willingness to selfishly exploit the hopes of a desperate youth, simply to further their own political goals. The responsibility for these injuries lies squarely at the EFF's door," Van der Westhuizen said.