Accused DUT students deny they were involved in campus unrest

2016-05-18 12:47
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Pietermaritzburg - A Durban University of Technology student has said in high court papers there was “not one iota” of evidence that he or any other individual students cited in a high court application aimed at preventing violence at DUT campuses, were involved in any unrest.

Ozayo Ntshulane is one of several students opposing an urgent interim interdict obtained in February by DUT in the wake of a wave of violent student protests on its campuses in KZN.

The temporary interdict is aimed at preventing all students at DUT campuses from disrupting, instigating or calling for the institution’s academic programme to be disrupted, from assaulting, threatening or intimidating staff or students by way of violent protests, and from demonstrating closer than 100 metres from the perimeter of a DUT campus.

In his replying affidavit, with which certain other students agreed, Ntshulane (a third-year public management student at Riverside campus) was critical of the “wide, blanket restrictions and impediments” placed on DUT students by the interim interdict. He said the interdict affects students’ constitutionally guaranteed rights to associate and to protest in a lawful fashion. “It is too wide … It includes innocent law-abiding students,” he said.

He said the use of colloquial and “slang” names of alleged perpetrators of unrest in the DUT’s papers made it difficult to ascertain if these people even exist and said their true identities remain “shrouded in mystery”.

He said the allegations made by DUT vice-chancellor and principal Professor Ahmed Bawa in his affidavit were based on indirect and hearsay information, and had not been confirmed by students, staff or security at the various campuses. He said the affidavit omitted to say what precise transgressions any individual had perpetrated.

Ntshulane also said that if the DUT had engaged meaningfully with the SRC at the time, there would have been no need to go to court.

He said the interdict places a “blanket restraint” on all students to demonstrate and curtails their right to engage in lawful protest and mass action. It also prevented the SRC from functioning effectively as the mouthpiece of students. “I wholeheartedly agree that no one, neither the students, nor anyone else has the right to behave in an unlawful manner or to instigate and intimidate others to do so,” he said.

Ntshulane said his concern was that the DUT had failed to explain clearly what each of the students cited is accused of doing. “There is not a single iota of evidence linking any of us to any of the unrests encountered on the campuses.”

Judge Graham Lopes yesterday adjourned the matter to an unspecified date pending heads of argument to be filed by DUT regarding the issue of a “blanket interdict” as well the institution’s response to the allegations contained in the students’ papers.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  court  |  dut

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