NMMU remains closed as court orders mediation

2016-10-12 22:53
Students protest at NMMU in Port Elizabeth. (Derrick Spies, News24)

Students protest at NMMU in Port Elizabeth. (Derrick Spies, News24)

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Port Elizabeth - The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) has been ordered to appoint an independent mediator with immediate effect. Should no acceptable compromise be reached by the end of the week, the university could be forced by the High Court to reopen its doors.

This comes after an urgent application brought by the Concerned Association of Parents and Others for Tertiary Education at Universities (CAPTU) was heard in the Grahamstown High Court on Tuesday.

The application, which was scheduled to be heard at 10:00, saw the legal teams of both the university and CAPTU engage in talks for more than five-and-a-half hours to try to find an amicable solution.

Eventually, after no agreement could be reached, Judge Sytze Alkema commended both parties on trying to reach an agreement and postponed the matter to October 18 to allow for the mediation and for the parties to report back to court.

In his order, Alkema instructed NMMU to immediately engage the services of a trained, independent and suitably skilled mediator to resolve the differences and difficulties aired in this application in the light of the values of the Constitution, the constitutional and statutory duties of the NMMU and the rights and duties of the students and staff concerned.

Possible precedent

Alkema added that, if by close of business on Thursday either CAPTU or NMMU, after constructive engagement with the each other, do not believe that meaningful progress has been made towards the successful resumption of academic activities, they will be able to "approach the High Court on an urgent basis for such an order as it may deem appropriate to ensure the resumption of academic activities".

Should a court order be issued next week it would set a precedent for all universities currently being kept closed by the Fees Must Fall student protests.

NMMU spokesperson Zandile Mbabela said the university would remain closed.

"The Grahamstown High Court's finding exacts structured mediation, with two days given for parties to see if any progress is being made towards finding a way to resume academic activities.

"NMMU welcomes this order as it has always been the university's position to engage effectively with all concerned parties, including parents, towards finding solutions to the situation it currently finds itself in," she said.

Read more on:    nmmu  |  university protests

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