The Cape Peninsula University of Technology and SA Students’ Congress are embroiled in a dispute over who should represent the organisation on the SRC. Picture: Sisonke Mlamla/Cape Argus
Cape Town - The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and SA Students’ Congress (Sasco) are embroiled in a dispute over who should represent the organisation on the university’s student representative council (SRC), after the institution unilaterally appointed three students, purportedly from Sasco, to the student body. 

Sasco approached the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday, denying the three students were their members or mandated to sit on the SRC, and seeking the reversal of the appointments. The court ordered CPUT to file an opposing affidavit.

However, before Sasco approached the court, they sent a lawyer’s letter to the vice-chancellor of the university, Chris Nhlapo, demanding that the university prevent three members - Nanga Codana, Sibulele Twashu and Phinda Swaartbooi - from representing Sasco on the SRC. The letter said they should be replaced by Sikhulule Mpetsha, Sicelo Yolwa and Neliseka Mehlomakhulu, adding that they would approach the court “should the institution not accede to those demands”.

Sasco provincial chairperson Buyile Matiwane said the university had taken a position to disregard the deployment of Sasco in accordance with its deployment policy and constitution. “We, as an organisation, have disputed this.

“The university should not interfere in organisational political processes. There is an independent service provider that has the responsibility to adjudicate all election issues and disputes; thus, the university has no part in such disputes,” Matiwane said.

“The university has failed to respond comprehensively and justly to the attempted interventions made by the convocation, legal representatives and the Higher Education Department to resolve the matter amicably and to avoid getting embroiled in political organisational decisions.”

Matiwane said the university had failed to even respond to much of the correspondence sent to it.

SASCO provincial secretary General, Siyabonga Booysen . Video: Sisonke Mlamla/Cape Argus

CPUT spokesperson Lauren Kansley said the SRC elections and related processes were conducted in terms of the SRC constitution, “which is a council-approved document, and the elections are conducted by a duly appointed external service provider”.

She said since the matter was now a legal one, “the university management is consulting its various stakeholders and reserves its comments at this stage”.

Misheck Mugabe, president of the SA Union of Students, said the university should resolve the issue “before it worsens”. “We are concerned that after such a successful SRC elections process, certain university officials are developing a direct interest in who must be in the SRC, despite the fact that the process is supposed to be independent and transparent,” he said.

“We will only write to the higher education, science and technology department to intervene if we exhaust all the internal avenues and remedies within your university,” Mugabe said.

In an email seen by the Cape Argus, sent to Sasco by Saziso Matiwane, president of convocation at CPUT, he said they did not intervene in the internal affairs of the university, but would “correctly intervene as and when we are required to do so”.

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Cape Argus