The High Court in Pretoria today provisionally granted the University of South Africa’s (Unisa’s) interdict against the students who have been on strike since Monday. “The university decided to approach the court to obtain this interdict in order to ensure that it brings to an end the disruptive effect of the student strike to its operations, including denying staff and students access to the premises of the university for purpose of work and/or receiving services on registration and related matters,” Unisa said in a statement.
The interdict was granted against 14 respondents, including South African Students Congress (Sasco); the national student representative council; the African National Congress Youth League; the Economic Freedom Fighters Students’ Command; and the police minister. The interdict was issued nisi with a return date of March 28, 2019, — meaning the respondents have until that date to show cause why the order should not be finalised. The order declares that students and members of the organisations are not allowed to protest within 50 meters of the university campuses; may not take part in or instigate disruptive behaviour; may not prevent students, staff or visitors from entering any Unisa premises; disrupting or interferring with the normal activities of the university; and carry dangerous weapons.
On January 7, Unisa responded to the demands made by the Sasco after the student body threatened to embark on a strike at the institution’s Sunnyside campus in Pretoria. At the time, university spokesperson Martin Ramotshela said the students submitted a list of demands, including the issue of being provided with textbooks and laptops. Ramotshela said some issues raised by the students had been resolved and it was agreed that laptops will be delivered before the academic year begins.
However, he said along the way some of the students’ demands had escalated and they wanted more. “The agreement was that they wanted laptops to be provided, that has been done. Now they want laptops and text books to be provided, now that’s a National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) matter, it is not our matter.
” Sasco chairperson Lundi Nhlenyama said both textbooks and laptops are necessary resources for learning purposes.