Court grants more time for DUT students to oppose interdict

2016-04-13 09:41

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Pietermaritzburg - An estimated 28 000 students at Durban University of Technology (DUT) campuses around KZN have an opportunity to apply for legal aid if they want to oppose a high court interdict granted against students in February.

The interdict was obtained by DUT in the wake of a wave of violent student protests that swept through the various campuses in the provinces at the beginning of this year.

On April 1 Acting Judge Piet Bezuidenhout granted a request by a group of students that they be allowed to seek legal advice regarding the possibility of opposing the interdict.

When the case returned to the high court on Monday a group of students told Judge Yvonne Mbatha that due to a misunderstanding their attorney ended up going to the district court instead of the high court. The judge agreed to again adjourn the case until yesterday when legal aid lawyer Ashok Kaloo appeared on the students’ behalf.

He told the court he had received brief instructions from eight students who want to oppose the interdict. However, he pointed out that the Legal Aid Board has to consider each application on merit.

He added that the the court order covers “all” students at DUT campuses in KZN, about 28 000 in total. As he did not know how many students wanted to oppose the case he needed more time.

Despite opposition by the advocate representing DUT, Judge Mbatha agreed to postpone the matter until May 17 to enable any students wishing to oppose the interdict to approach the Legal Aid Board, consult with Kaloo and file answering affidavits where applicable. The costs of the case were reserved until a later date.

In the meantime Judge Mbatha has extended the urgent interim interdict obtained by DUT on February 19.

The interdict prevents students at DUT campuses in KZN from “disrupting” or calling for the academic programme at DUT campuses to be disrupted, or instigating others to do so.

It also bars them from disrupting lectures, practical work, tests or exams at DUT as well as entering any venue or lecture hall unless they are students of the course in question.

In addition the students are prevented from assaulting, threatening or intimidating “by way of violent protests” staff and students of DUT or instigating anyone else to do so.

They are also barred from damaging property and demonstrating or gathering closer than 100 metres from the perimeter of any DUT campus.

Vice-chancellor and principal Professor Ahmed Bawa said in his affidavit in support of the interdict at the time that the aim of the court order was not to stop elected SRC members from fulfilling their function to raise student issues or grievances in a lawful manner. It was intended to halt escalating violent protests at the DUT campuses at the time, protect staff and students and prevent damage to property.

In various e-mails attached to the court papers DUT staff at the time expressed fears for their safety as student violence spread across campuses.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  students  |  court  |  dut

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