UJ gets interdict against campus protests

Twelve University of Johannesburg students have been barred from entering the campus after the institution was granted a provisional interdict against them in the South Gauteng High Court earlier today.

The interdict also prevents “unlawful demonstrations” by protesting students.

The university’s legal representative, advocate Dirk Vetten, said the university sought court assistance “in drawing the line”, as a result of the increased nature of illegal activities on campus.  The university have charged the twelve suspended students with misconduct relating to a number of incidents on campus.

Yesterday, the university’s main auditorium was set alight, causing damage worth R100 million according to the statement released by the vice chancellor’s office. No suspects have yet been arrested or identified.

The judge said there was no evidence before the court proving that the burning of the building was done by the suspended students.

Judge Raylene Keightley gave all  respondents present in court an opportunity to raise their concerns, explaining to the students that the order was for stopping “unlawful” action.

“The interdict prevents protest action that infringes on the right of other students, staff and visitors on campus and the university’s right to protect its property”, said Keightley.

Lindokuhle Xulu, one of the suspended students, opposed the interdict saying it infringes on their right to access education.

“We are chased away by bouncers every time we try to access campus to study and go to the library. Can the university guarantee us that we will exercise our right to education?” said Xulu.

Sandile Mdlongwa, one of the suspended students who was arrested last week following therecent  surge in  violent incidents on campus, questioned the validity of the institution blocking their entrance to the university.

“Is it constitutionally correct for academically deserving students to be deprived of their right to education?” asked Mdlongwa.

Xhamla Songwevu, claimed that unlawful protests happen because the university never grants them as students, permission to protest whenever they apply.

While deliberating on her decision, the judge asked for a provision to be added to the interdict that the suspended students be allowed to approach the institution for re-consideration of their current suspension terms.

Keightley stressed that the university should allow students access for academic purposes and reconsider the evictions of resident students.

In addition to protest action, the interdict prohibits activity by any person from blocking university entrances, threats of violence, obstructing the movement of other students, staff and other members of the university community.

The 12 suspended students will face a disciplinary hearing tomorrow in Kempton Park.

Meanwhile, the provisional interdict will remain in force for the next two weeks until the matter returns to court on May 31, 2016.

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