DUT turns to court to ban protesting students

DUT turns to court to ban protesting students

The Durban University of Technology (DUT) has been granted a temporary interdict barring students from protesting near any of its campuses.

The university filed the urgent interdict on Wednesday against 21 respondents, including the university’s entire Student Representative Council (SRC) and the EFF Student Command (EFFSC). 

The court action comes after the university closed three of its campuses on Wednesday after 12 incidents of violence, vandalism, intimidation of staff and protests over the past two weeks. 

The two student bodies were ordered to stop threatening staff, damaging university property, interfering with academic processes and inciting others to commit such acts.

The 21st respondent — the police — was ordered to take all steps reasonably necessary, given its available resources, to ensure that staff, students and university property are protected.

Since January 24, there have been reports of burning of cars belonging to staff, destroying university equipment, attempts to petrol bomb the city campus and burning the city campus guardhouse on Wednesday.

The main issue, according to the EFFSC, is online registration.

Student leaders have been calling for in-person registration, as opposed to online registration enforced by universities amid the Covid-19 pandemic, to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds who are struggling with the online system, resulting in their “firm offers” being withdrawn.

The university has maintained that online registration is the safest method during the pandemic and only the vaccinated or those who produce negative Covid-19 tests no older then 48 hours will be granted access to the university premises once classes commence.

That was suspended by a week when the university extended the registration period.

In its court application the university warned that the 2022 academic programme would not be completed on time unless an urgent court interdict is granted against the SRC and the EFFSC.

“If the academic programme is materially delayed there is a real concern that there will not be sufficient time to complete it, which will have serious consequences for all students of DUT.”

They are alleged to have mobilised students, urged them to disrupt the registration process, threatened staff, forced entry to university campuses and vandalised a registration venue in the S6 computer lab between January 24 and February 14.

The SRC and EFFSC were alleged to have failed to notify students of a fake circular on social media leading prospective students to believe there would be in person registration at DUT on Monday.

“It appears plain that the SRC and the EFFSC are the main protagonists. The cited respondents who are not specifically identified are members of both [organisations] and DUT believes they are involved in the unlawful conduct.

“It is telling that there has been no condemnation by the SRC or the EFFSC despite having ample opportunity to do so. By their silence they appear complicit.”

Mzobe, EFFSC chairperson, told TimesLIVE their lawyers were filing paperwork to oppose the interdict.

TimesLIVE

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Author: admin