DUT turns to court to stop student protests

11 April 2018 - 13:31 By Suthentira Govender
Durban University of Technology. File photo
Durban University of Technology. File photo
Image: Times Media

The embattled Durban University of Technology (DUT) has secured a court interdict to stop a group of students - including controversial “Fees Must Fall” activist Bonginkosi Khanyile - from instigating violent protests.

The Economic Freedom Fighters‚ ANC Youth League and South African Students Congress are respondents in the matter‚ which went before the Durban High Court on Tuesday.

The institution - fresh from staff strikes and protests - has had to face a student uprising‚ mainly related to the non-payment of National Student Financial Aid Scheme allowances.

The most recent protest on Tuesday resulted in damage to DUT property and four students being injured after they were allegedly shot by rubber bullets.

Khanyile‚ who led “Fees Must Fall“ protests‚ was arrested for being part of protests at DUT two years ago. He was denied bail on several occasions and was only released after taking his matter to the Constitutional Court in March last year.

Khanyile graduated with a National Diploma in Public Management and Economics summa cum laude‚ despite spending six months in jail.

In an affidavit submitted to the court‚ DUT registrar Professor Thenjiwa Meyiwa said the purpose of the application was to interdict Khanyile and his co-respondents from “unlawfully and violently protesting” at DUT campuses‚ “endangering the lives of others and damaging property”.

Meyiwa cited several incidents of unrest at the institution’s various campuses involving Khanyile and other students‚ amongst them Philani Nduli‚ who has been prohibited from entering the campus.

She told the court about the latest incident on Tuesday when a group of students led by the EFF and ANCYL disrupted classes‚ opened firehoses and fire extinguishers‚ emptied rubbish bins and threw stones and bricks at police. Police tried to disperse the students by using rubber bullets.

“Owing to the staff strikes at the beginning of the year‚ the academic year commenced on 5 march 2018. It should have commenced on 5 February.

“With continued protests‚ the probability and likelihood of completing the academic programme is materially jeopardised.”

Meyiwa added that “there is a real and apparent danger to human lives and property.”

She said DUT a right to protest its property and students‚ saying that it had no “alternative remedy”.

Addressing students on campus on Tuesday night‚ a defiant Khanyile said that their fight with university management would continue.

“We will not go anywhere‚ let me tell you that. When we fight an enemy we fight from the beginning to the end‚” he said.

“We want to send a message to the VC. They say they have sent eight letters to fighters who have been suspended. You must tell him that I am not coming to collect any such letter. We have the best lawyers and they must know that this university is ours; they cannot do anything without us.”