TUT 2014 res evictions matter back in court

2016-08-19 08:12
The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.  (Schalk van Zuydam, AP)

The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. (Schalk van Zuydam, AP)

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2016-03-08 13:11

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Gauteng - An application for a contempt order was on Thursday brought before the North Gauteng High Court by Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) on behalf of students at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) following the evictions of those living in the institution's residences two years ago.

"The issue to be determined was whether TUT and three of its top officials unlawfully ignored the urgent court order intended to bring an immediate end to the unlawful mass eviction carried out against all the students residing [there] at the time," LHR's Tarisai Mugunyani said in a statement.

TUT students were sent packing at the time following the institution's announcement that it was shutting down until further notice as students protested against a shortfall in funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

The university had said it was shutting down in a bid to protect lives and property, News24 reported then.

In February 2014 that year, the High Court issued an urgent court order for the evicted students who were not given alternative accommodation to return to res.

According to Mugunyani, the university was served with a copy of the order and acknowledged receipt on its own website and through the media.

"Despite this, however, it refused to comply with the terms of the order and allow the evicted students to return to the residences.
 
"As a result of TUT's continuing refusal to comply with the order of court, LHR once again approached the court to seek an order of contempt against the university."

University should set example to students

Mugunyani said an interim order was granted, holding that TUT was in contempt and postponed the matter to allow the university an opportunity to file opposing papers.
 
"When the opposing affidavit was filed by TUT the individual officials responsible for the contempt of the court's previous order were identified and LHR applied to have these officials individually joined to the contempt application in their personal capacities. 

"This joinder application was granted. TUT has also since the granting of the interim order unsuccessfully attempted to rescind the initial court order requiring that the students immediately be allowed to return to their residences. Numerous offers to settle the matter by way of a public apology to the students and the court have failed."

The main contempt application against the university and its officials was heard on Thursday, Mugunyani confirmed.

"It is the view of LHR that TUT and the individual officials responsible for the violation of the students' constitutional rights and deliberate contempt of the court's order cannot be allowed to hide behind the juristic persona of the university. 

"It is also of importance to the rule of law that students who are asked to comply with court orders see that the university and its officials are also required to do so."

Judgment was reserved.

Read more on:    tut  |  pretoria  |  education

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