Varsity to reopen, gets court order against protesters
PORT ELIZABETH — The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) has announced that it will be reopening today, with the intent of resuming classes tomorrow.
This is after the university’s council met on Friday and agreed that the university must reopen. Following the council decision, the university obtained a court order for the institution to resume classes and take action against protesting students if necessary.
The council decision comes after a mediation process between various stakeholders, including the NMMU Management, NMMU FeesMustFall movement and the Concerned Association of Parents and Others for Tertiary Education at Universities (Captu) broke down on Thursday.
And, while many students and lecturers have welcomed the announcement, the NMMU FeesMustFall movement have accused the university of acting in bad faith and have vowed that it will remain closed.
“An adapted academic calendar has been approved in principle by the Executive Committee of Senate. The calendar assumes that, with classes starting on 18 October 2016, lectures will continue for about four weeks to complete the academic programme, followed by three study days before an examination period of about three weeks,” said NMMU spokesperson Zandile Mbabela.
Mbabela said an overarching academic recovery plan has been drafted, along with more detailed faculty-based recovery plans, which are sensitive to the fact that students have lost momentum in their studies.
“In addition, Student Counselling will be running sessions for students who need to deal with feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, depression and anger, and so on to assist them with sense-making and re-engaging with their studies,” she said.
Mbabela said similar wellness interventions will be made available to staff.
A post in response to the university’s announcement on the FeesMustFall Movement’s Facebook page, made it clear that the group intended to continue with campus shutdown activities.
“We did not mumble when we said that ours is free education and until then, ours will be pursuing the realisation of free education.
“We partook in the mediation in good faith with the assumption that the University had come to the inevitable conclusion that joining our call would be beneficial to all higher education stakeholders including universities.
“NMMU however responded by showing an unwillingness to reach a solution to this crisis by pulling out of the court mandated mediation process.
“We therefore find it disingenuous of NMMU to resume operations when the court mandated mediation has not reached its conclusion. A detailed communication on a way forward will be sent out to students tomorrow, but rest assured, asijiki singagqibanga! kwaye asikazujika singagqibanga!”
Supporters on the page have vowed that the university will remain closed.
Floyd T Ngobeni posted: “Ready your ironing boards for Monday we go to war,” a reference to photographs of TUT students using ironing boards as shields while taking on riot police.
Olwethu Pheshe chirped that ironing boards were on special at Shoprite.
“No court order formed against us shall prosper,” posted Sinoxolo Nkonjane while Masonwabe Benjamin Mayeza posted, “Lol those who want to graduate they will graduate in Court #Asijiki”
Meanwhile, former Wits SRC president Mcebo Dlamini — one of the leaders of the Fees Must Fall campaign — has been arrested.
“A student leader was arrested in the early hours of this [Sunday] morning at the Wits Junction Residence Complex,” said the University of the Witwatersrand in a statement.
Dlamini sent a text to a News24 reporter identifying himself as the arrested person in question.
The Wits SRC said on its Facebook page that he was apparently taken from a residence after his room “was stormed by police”. It added that he was apparently not told why he was being arrested.
According to the University, he was taken to the Cleveland Police Station. The exact charges he is facing are not yet known.
Wits Vuvuzela, a community newspaper, reported that the charge apparently related to assaulting a police officer. National police spokesperson Brigadier Sally de Beer was not immediately available to comment.
Advocate and national Economic Freedom Fighters chairperson, Dali Mpofu, tweeted that he had spent an hour with Dlamini at the station and that he was well. — Sapa