NMMU to reopen, but protest organisation to gather outside

The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University plans to reopen tomorrow, after almost a month of no lectures.

But a #FeesMustFall activist said members would gather at the university’s entrance in the morning.

He declined to say what the purpose of the gathering would be or whether the students were planning to prevent the university from opening.

“We cannot disclose too much information due to the interdict which prohibits any form of gathering by staff or students on university premises,” the #FeesMustFall leader, who declined to be named, said.

NMMU obtained an order from the Port Elizabeth High Court on Friday which allows it to take action against protesting students, if necessary.

The order outlaws the carrying by students of rocks, stones, weapons or any other item that could be used to destroy property or inflict harm.

It also bars students from entering campuses without access cards.

The return date for the provisional order is November 15, but Judge Jannie Eksteen made a provision that any unhappy party could approach the court to have the order set aside with 24 hours notice.

The university has been closed since September 20.

Lectures will continue for the next month, according to the university’s plans to save the academic year.

Students will then be given three study days before exams.

University spokeswoman Zandile Mbabela said: “Our campus security will … monitor the situation. We remain hopeful that this transition will be incident free.”

Mbabela said NMMU had tried to avoid using force for the past month as it only escalated violence, which was evidenced at other institutions.

“The university appreciates that staff and students may be anxious about their safety as a result of what they have witnessed at other universities around the country,” she said.

NMMU SRC president Nicholas Nyathi said he hoped the academic year would not be interrupted again.

Right2Know Campaign spokesman Alex Hotz said the organisation took issue with universities obtaining provisional interdicts to stop protests as these prevented freedom of speech. POLICE have denied the existence of a hit-list targeting student leaders and activists after a prominent student leader at Wits University was arrested in the early hours of yesterday.

Former Wits SRC president Mcebo Dlamini was arrested in his residence in Parktown and is expected to appear in the Hillbrow Magistrate’s Court today.

Wits SRC secretary-general Fasiha Hassan said Mcebo’s arrest was “clearly targeted”.

“We know there is a targeted attempt to arrest student leadership. We’ve had to go into some level of hiding in the last few days, but they managed to find Mcebo.”

Police spokeswoman Brigadier Sally de Beer denied the allegation.

“There’s no such thing as a hitlist. Why would we do that? There are acts of violence, intimidation and incitement taking place, and we have been investigating all along,” she said.

“As the investigations go along and we are ready to arrest, we will do so.”

The arrest came after the university imposed curfews last week which included closing all buildings – except for residences – between 9.30pm and 6am, and restricting access to the university after 11pm. In other developments:

• The Tshwane University of Technology said it expected classes to resume as normal from today. “In view of the safety of our staff and students, security measures will remain reinforced every day at all the university’s campuses,” it said.

• The Cape Peninsula University of Technology remains shut in the wake of buildings being burnt and two guards being badly injured last week. Limited essential services have been moved to new locations.

• The University of the Western Cape has allocated today as a “day of dialogue” between students and management.

Spokesman Luthando Tyhalibongo confirmed students were allowed to submit tests and assignments via an online system, but that the resumption of classes would only be announced after the meetings.

• Expelled Vaal University of Technology SRC president Troy Mathebula said yesterday they were willing to engage with the university and make some compromises. “But we are not willing to compromise our leaders who were expelled and suspended.”

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