Wits violated EFF students' rights, court told

2015-08-26 12:24
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

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Johannesburg – Wits University violated the rights of six EFF-aligned students when it suspended them for alleged violent behaviour, the High Court in Johannesburg heard on Wednesday.

“The right to which the applicants lay claim, including the right to education, is being violated every minute the suspension remains in place,” Dumisa Ntsebeza, for the Economic Freedom Fighters, its Student Command, and the six students, argued.

They were black, from poor backgrounds and had been deprived of their accommodation and food, he said.

They were suspended and disqualified from being candidates in the SRC elections after allegedly being filmed being violent during an SRC election debate last Tuesday.

There was “shoving, punching, and strangling”, said Jeremy Gaunlett, for Wits University.

The students wanted the suspensions and disqualifications lifted, and for the elections to be postponed. Ntsebeza was arguing that the matter needed to be heard urgently.

Court bid 'too late'

“The horse has left the stable,” Gauntlett said. He was arguing that the EFF’s court bid was too late as the SRC elections began at 09:00 on Wednesday. They would continue until Thursday on the education and medical campuses. The main campus would vote on September 1 and 2.

The “dispossession from food and study” was only a temporary measure. In addition the students had not responded to letters asking them to explain why they should not be suspended. These were sent on August 20.

In addition, the EFF’s bid to have the elections postponed could not be entertained, Gauntlett said. Due to the study break next week, and the exams after that, they could not be held later this year.

This would mean Wits would have to operate without an elected SRC until March 2016.

He wanted the matter struck from the roll due to its lack of urgency.

The matter was briefly adjourned due to loud drilling that appeared to come from below the floor which drowned out Gauntlett's voice.

The judge said he would only be able to hand down a judgment or make an order on Thursday.

Read more on:    wits  |  eff  |  johannesburg  |  education

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