A security room vandalised by students at the Durban University of Technology. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Durban – Representatives for the Durban University of Technology (DUT) will appear at the Durban High Court on Thursday morning seeking an urgent interim interdict against students protesting within 150m of any of the institution’s Durban campuses and from “conduct designed to disrupt the academic programme”.  

“[DUT] has shown a well-grounded apprehension of irreparable harm if an interim interdict is not granted,” said Dr Isaac Machi, deputy vice-chancellor, in an affidavit that forms part of the lengthy application.

Machi said the interdict was deemed urgent as with every passing day since a spike in protests “there is a likelihood of injury and death”.

Various annexures provide photographic proof of damage to DUT property, police property and that of private security.

“I wish to stress that [DUT] has no desire to prevent students from exercising their democratic right to protest. However, given the violent and intimidating way in which students exercise that right, they are negating the right of other students to continue with and complete their academic programme for the 2019 academic year,” said Machi.

The application lists 22 respondents, including the Student Representative Council, its president Sesiyanda Godlimpi and other members. The Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command, which Godlimpi leads, the South African Students Council, National Students Movement, registered DUT students and police are also among the respondents.

The institution has experienced a spate of violent protests since early February when registration started, with one such incident leading to the shooting death of student Mlungisi Madonsela.

Drawing the courts attention to a timeline of events, Machi lists disruptive incidents at the institution’s Steve Biko campus since early February.

This included petrol bombing a vehicle, threatening to "kill" non-protesting students, shattering glass panel doors, hurling of rocks and stones at security officers that ended in injury, damage to vehicles and setting alight of bins.

In his affidavit, Machi also offered more detail on the events leading up to the shooting of EFF supporter Madonsela on 5 February.  

Machi said that on that fateful day, security received a call stating “EFF students were collecting stones” behind Open House. 

Five security guards responded and found that the students were trying to gain entry to Open House. The security officer who tried to close the gate on students suffered head injuries as a result of being stoned by students.

“The group of students, some of whom were wearing EFF T-shirts, split into two groups, the one [group] remaining behind Open House and the others proceeding to the entrance, where they continued to throw stones at security officers," states the affidavit.

“One of the security officers fired a shot, or shots, during this incident, which apparently led to the death of ... Madonsela. A DUT staff member, Mbali Ntoza, was seriously injured after being hit in the face with a rock or a brick thrown by a student. She required immediate hospitalisation. Activities on campus were suspended thereafter.”

Machi also quotes from DUT SRC’s Facebook page, in which DUT management was described as “enemy of the people” and “management" as "responsible for the death of Fighter Mlungisi, they killed him for selfish profit!!!”

The vice-chancellor was described as “a killer” and was told to respect students and not respond with “cruel action”.

“[It’s] UNAFRICAN, INHUMAN AND SATANIC TO opportunistically kill our people with an intention to appease white and Indians people (sic).”

The post further stated that DUT would not reopen until demands were met. These included allowing students to register despite previous debt, termination of contracts with “abusive and unconjucive residence (sic)”, termination of the contract with private security company Xcellent “hit man’s company” and removal of “Indira and Malusi Nxumalo”.

The campus reopened this week on Monday, said Machi, and again students “wearing EFF T-shirts” disrupted classes and “threatened to kill students if they did not move out of classes” to join a pre-protest meeting.

African News Agency/ANA