Cape Town -
An interim court order has barred a group of people - mostly student representative council (SRC) members at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) - from damaging property and disrupting lectures and exams.
These were among the points in Judge James Yekiso’s temporary order issued in the Western Cape High Court on Monday. He said the interim interdict would have effect until April 14 when the case would be heard.
The university lodged a court application last week over certain protest actions on its campus. This followed calls for UWC vice-chancellor Brian O’Connell and his deputy, Ramesh Bharuthram, to resign or to be removed from their positions.
All 13 of the respondents cited in the case are identified as members of the SRC with the exception of one who was identified as an ex-student leader.
In court on Monday, representatives of the SRC appeared in person, saying they were still in the process of securing lawyers.
The university, represented by advocates Ismail Jamie, SC, and Adiel Nacerodien, proposed that the matter be postponed.
Jamie said he would agree to a postponement as long as an interim interdict was put in place.
SRC secretary-general Bantu Mazingi said the SRC was happy with the postponement, but was concerned about the interim interdict. Judge Yekiso said a postponement would give the SRC ample time to get legal representation and prepare for the hearing.
The interim interdict, he emphasised, was not final - it was being put in place to protect the university against the recurrence of alleged incidents, relating to the disturbance of lectures and exams, in the “likely or unlikely event” that they were true. He said that transgressions of the order could result in contempt of court proceedings.
The order restrained the respondents from:
- Calling for or carrying out “unlawful protest action” on the UWC campus, including the disruption of lectures, tests and exams or preventing students and staff from carrying out activities.
- Damaging university property or calling on anyone to do so.
- Obstructing or disrupting traffic at the campus.
UWC spokesman Luthando Tyhalibongo said the order prohibited conduct such as disrupting classes and tests, but did not mean students could not protest.