Johannesburg - A retired military veteran, who never finished school, On Wednesday won a court order obliging the University of Limpopo to process his application to study law.
The order requires the university’s academic registrar to accept the application Phillip Dhlamini submitted a year ago to be admitted as a student for an LLB degree.
The order also means the university must process the application as one for conditional exemption in terms of the national rules, which means considering his on-the-job learning and not just school qualifications.
This should all be done in time for Dhlamini to be able to register as a law student next year, if his application is successful.
Dhlamini, 63, may apply to study despite having completed only Standard 6 (Grade 8).
It’s not a guarantee that the university will accept him, but it’s a guarantee that the institution will finally process his application to study.
The agreement was made out of court but was made an order of the court.
Judge Francis Legodi added a costs order, ruling that each party would pay its own costs. Dhlamini had told the court he would pay his own costs, while the university had wanted him to pay its costs.
Dhlamini drew up his own legal papers and represented himself in court.
“It was worth it,” he said.
The university had rejected his initial application, failing to consider it as coming from an applicant without a matric, which involves a different process.
Dhlamini had submitted a further application but couldn’t get the university to process that.
“Somewhere along the way, there is something that they did not do properly,” said Judge Legodi.
For Dhlamini, it’s more than just a personal victory.
It’s about getting universities to acknowledge that former military veterans often didn’t finish school before getting caught up in the pre-1994 political Struggle, were not all integrated into the current security forces, and even now often have no options.
“It tells our military people who are no longer in the military that they can be integrated properly,” he said.
“We have too many military people roaming the streets with knowledge that can be used by third parties. We can’t expect them to do things without education.”
Dhlamini said there were thousands of former members of the ANC’s armed wing Umkhonto weSizwe, the PAC’s Azanian People’s Liberation Army (Apla) and the informal township self-protection units and self-defence units who lived without hope and a future.
“There are thousands of them, angry wherever they are, and we don’t know what they are doing,” he said.
“The military problem of Africa cannot be resolved simply by demobilising soldiers. That’s wars after wars.”
Dhlamini is a former unionist and an Apla veteran who was integrated into the SANDF, where he was a labour adviser.
He particularly wants to study at the University of Limpopo as he regards it as his political home. “I started recruiting there during the liberation Struggle. The university created a strong background for Apla, so we called it the people’s university,” he said, adding that the university should have been leading the way in enabling former veterans to study.
Applications to the University of Limpopo for next year close on September 29.