Pretoria - The three campuses of the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) have been closed due to the violent protests that erupted there this week.
TUT announced on Thursday that it had decided to close the Pretoria West, Ga-Rankuwa and Arcadia campuses until further notice.
Students embarked on protests across the campuses this week to press their demands for, among other things, catering services and to draw attention to the lack of funding for a significant number of students.
But violent elements in the protests on Thursday prompted the university to obtain an interdict against the students.
The university said the campuses would be shut until further notice, with students who stayed in university residences ordered to move out by this afternoon.
TUT applied for an urgent order interdicting the students and their representative bodies from trashing the campuses, threatening or hurting fellow students and staff members, and organising and participating in further protests.
“This matter is extremely urgent. As we stand here the students are burning the campuses,” said Francois Botes, advocate for the TUT, told the High Court in Pretoria.
This prompted Judge Legodi Phatudi - who sat through the lunch break to hear the matter - to ask: “Is it in flames?”
Botes said that at that stage students were only burning tyres, but they had threatened the buildings would be next if management did not heed their demands.
“They want to stay free, eat free and travel for free and then they want some change. They are holding the administration to ransom.”
Among the demands the students had presented to the head of administration, Professor Themba Mosia, were that “all students on the waiting list of the National Students Financial Aid Scheme be immediately catered for”, and that all outstanding fees be “settled by someone capable to do so”.
Botes told the court that the students demanded that administrative staff members “attend anger management classes because their attitude is unbecoming and it is going to lead to unnecessary fights with them and their African brothers and sisters”.
Other demands were that “all residences must have hot water within two hours” and all residence managers be removed. The students also called for “a review of the residence rules and regulations, as they refuse to be part of policies they were not part of drafting”.
Botes handed a series of pictures to the court, showing tyres burning and buildings damaged on the Soshanguve campus. He said entrances to the campuses had been barricaded by the students and booms broken.
Judge Phatudi agreed the application was “extremely urgent” and issued an interim order prohibiting further violence by the students.
He ordered that the respondents - 37 students identified as being trouble makers - and the student bodies representing them - return to court on August 28 to state why the order should not be made final.
The student bodies named in the application include TUT’s transitional SRC, the TUT branch of the ANC Youth League, the Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania, and the SA Student Congress.
Botes said the sheriff would immediately serve the order on the students, but Judge Phatudi was concerned about how it would reach each of the respondents.
Botes said 200 copies would be distributed and a video recording made of the sheriff serving them to ensure the order reached the right people. - Pretoria News
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