NMMU faces legal action over shutdown

Port Elizabeth – A group of parents and students is planning to take legal action against the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University if it does not allow students to complete their 2016 academic year.

The Concerned Association of Parents and Others for Tertiary Education at Universities was formed at a special meeting at the German Club in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday evening.

Attorney Brin Brody told about 200 parents, students and other residents of the proposal to seek a high court interdict against the university to force it to open its doors. The intention was to bring a class action suit against the university.

A number of those present signed powers of attorney and a committee was formed. Kobus Gerber, of the Nelson Mandela Bay Ratepayers Association, was elected chairperson.

The committee will travel to Grahamstown on Thursday to consult Brody and his associates. A letter of demand would be drafted to the university to demand that academic work resume as a matter of urgency.

Brody said he would seek the assistance of advocates Izack Smuts, Bruce Dyke, and Hannelie Bakker. 

Protesting students at NMMU
Protesting students at NMMU. (Derrick Spies/News24)

Breach of contractual obligations

Should the university fail to take action, they will lodge an urgent application at the Grahamstown High Court on Tuesday. They were concerned that protesting students could disrupt proceedings if it was lodged in Port Elizabeth.

The application would consist of four parts: that the matter was urgent; that the university take the necessary steps to reopen; take steps to protect its property and ensure the safety of staff and students and; if necessary, call police and security guards.

Brody said the basis of the application would be that the university was in breach of contractual obligations entered into with paying students in terms of the Consumer Protection Act.

Should the university not open, it could be sued for damages. Not only would students be able to sue for their fees paid for the 2016 academic year, but the university could face lawsuits relating to future loss of income.

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