DURBAN – The Durban High Court on Thursday granted an urgent interim interdict in favour of the Durban University of Technology (DUT) that bans students from illegally protesting on its Durban campuses and paves the way for the institution to resume lectures.
DUT’s Steve Biko campus was shut down after February 5 when 20-year-old student Mlungisi Madonsela, a member of the Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command (EFFSC), was fatally injured.
It is alleged he and about 30 students armed with rocks and bricks were involved in a violent altercation with security guards, during which Madonsela was shot by an armed guard. Madonsela later died in hospital. A campus employee had her nose broken after being hit with a brick and had to be hospitalised.
The incident was preceded by protests regarding student funding and accommodation. Madonsela's death dominated national headlines and led to further protests.
In one instance, according to an affidavit that formed part of the interdict application, students “wearing EFF T-shirts” had disrupted classes and “threatened to kill students if they did not move out of classes” to join a pre-protest meeting.
The EFFSC currently holds a majority in the Student Representative Council (SRC), both of which were among the 22 respondents in the matter, as well as SRC and EFFSC leader, Sesiyanda Godlimpi.
The respondents were interdicted from “being physically situated within 150 metres of any of [DUT’s] premises when marching, gathering, protesting or demonstrating or otherwise grouping together for unlawful purposes, including, in the case of organisations or political parties, convening any march, gathering or protest within 150 metres of any of the applicant’s premises, save that this order shall not prevent the SRC from duly holding a peaceful meeting for lawful purposes”.
They were further interdicted from “interfering with, threatening, harassing, intimidating or in any way violently interacting with employees, representatives of students [at DUT] when marching, gathering, protesting or demonstrating or otherwise grouping for unlawful purposes in the vicinity of the applicant’s premises”.
The students were also restrained from physically damaging, interfering with or in any way violently coming into contact with [DUT’s] property, equipment or assets at any of its premises.
They were also restrained from “contravening or causing, directing, inciting or encouraging any person, organisation or political party to, in any way, contravene the provisions of the Regulation of Gatherings Act, 1993”.
Following the granting of the interdict, DUT said in a statement that the university “will now be better positioned to announce a date for the resumption of the academic programme in Durban”. A formal announcement would be made on Friday.