NWU granted interdict

2013-05-09 22:20

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Pretoria - The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Thursday granted an interim interdict preventing the Higher Education Transformation Network (HETN) from defaming the North-West University (NWU).

Judge Johan Louw granted an urgent interdict to the university to stop HETN and its directors from publishing any further defamatory statements about the university.

They were ordered to immediately remove a defamatory post, depicting the university as "racists, Nazis and criminals", from all social media platforms, including HETN's website, Facebook, Twitter and Dropbox.

AfriForum attorney Willie Spies earlier this year obtained an urgent interim interdict to stop HETN from defaming him and forcing them to remove allegations about him from their website.

HETN has lodged a case in the Equality Court against the University of Pretoria, Tuks Alumni, and Spies, claiming they were excluding black alumni.

The organisation accused NWU of victimising and harassing black academia.

HETN last week published a Facebook post bearing swastikas and called on followers to say "no to racist victimisations" and join a march to NWU's Potchefstroom campus on Friday.

NWU's senior legal adviser Werner Coetzee said in an affidavit HETN had embarked on a campaign to cast the university in a bad light, and make defamatory statements about the institution and its vice-chancellor Theuns Eloff.

The organisation issued a series of press statements in which it accused the university and its leadership of being "steeped in dysfunction" and "characterised by victimisation and racist workplace practices".

Coetzee denied the university was racist or subscribed to Nazi principles.

He said it was well known that Egypt's anti-government demonstrations in 2011 started as a result of publications on the social media platform.

"The applicant [NWU] cannot afford the start of such a revolution on its campuses because of the irresponsible behaviour or the respondents... The false allegations of blatant racism etc, against the applicant is causing its reputation as a long-standing, respected and well-known university incalculable harm.

"The applicant has many foreign students and researchers and can simply not afford its reputation to be jeopardised.

"The applicant is dependent on donors for its operating costs, and the danger exists that such funds could be withheld as a result of the respondents' allegations, with very negative consequences for the applicant, its staff, students and researchers.

"The reach of the social media platform the respondents use so liberally to defame the applicant is unlimited," he said.

Coetzee said he was concerned the platform could be used to encourage public violence and other unlawful conduct during Friday's planned march to the Potchefstroom campus, under the banner of the Progressive Youth Alliance.

The HETN agreed to the interim interdict, but would state its case when the matter was in court again.

Read more on:    nwu  |  education

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