Another false restart as NMMU descends into #FeesMustFall chaos - Update: Teargas fired at protesting students

BY JESICA SLABBERT - OCTOBER 18, 2016

Update: 11am 

Two shots of teargas have been fired at students gatherd in front of the NMMU South Campus Embizweni building. The acting Vice-Chancellor is attempting to engage with protesting students so that they may resume academic activity but no resolutions are being made at this point.


There was chaos on Tuesday morning at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), which was meant to reopen its doors and resume academic activities, as #FeesMustFall student protesters ran running battles with public order police officers. Students pelted police officers with rocks while the police responded with a water canon, rubber bullets and teargas.

The NMMU #FeesMustFall Movement said that they would not support the reopening of the university and would continue to protest until their demands for free, "decolonised" education have been met.

Police are maintaining a presence on the university campus, blocking off the campuses, while the university's security have been assisting students and staff, who had turned up for classes out of the danger zones. 

It remains to be seen if the NMMU will reopen today. 

Previous attempts by the NMMU to reopen have also failed.

CAPTU not going back to court

The violence comes after the Concerned Association of Parents and others for Tertiary Education at Universities (CAPTU), an association of disgruntled parents, who recently took the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) to court to force it to end its shutdown of campuses and resume the 2016 academic year, announced that it would not be pursuing court action against the NMMU after parties failed to reach an agreement at a mediation on Thursday.

The Grahamstown High Court last week Tuesday ordered that the NMMU and its various stakeholders, including CAPTU and the protesting students, had until Thursday to find common ground, with the aid of a professional mediator, before the courts can intervene. 

In an email addressed to the parents, Sloan Wilson, from Sloan Wilson Attorneys and Conveyancers, said that since the NMMU obtained an interdict (court order) against numerous parties (the Respondents) including the SRC, NMMU FEESMUSTFALL and NMMU EFF, the "effect of the court order (if it is adhered to by the Respondents) is that the University will be able to open immediately and students will be able to return to University and complete the 2016 academic year this year.”

"This is exactly what CAPTU was attempting to achieve with its application to the High Court in Grahamstown and in our view the obtaining of the interdict was a direct result of CAPTU bringing the aforementioned application.  In this sense we have been completely successful," said Wilson.

"What the response of the Respondents will be to the interdict is obviously not within our control and I am advised that arsonists have burned down the club house at the NMMU sports field (subsequent to NMMU obtaining the court order)."

NMMU issued a communique on 16th October 2016 advising that operations will resume at NMMU on Monday and classes on Tuesday (18th October 2016).  

"Whether this in fact takes place remains to be seen, but in the light of the interdict obtained by NMMU and their stated intentions, CAPTU’s management committee and legal team cannot really do anything more than hold a watching brief to monitor developments and react thereto where possible," described Wilson. 

"We will not, at this point, be pursuing our application in the Grahamstown High Court as it would, in the light of the interdict obtained by NMMU in response to our application, make no sense to do so.  We will however be requesting a costs order against the Respondents in our application.

"The CAPTU management committee and legal team will continue to monitor developments.  Please note, however, that it is not practical for us to deliver a report on every development nor our reaction thereto, but we will keep you advised of developments to the best of our abilities. 

"NMMU appear to be sending out regular communiques providing updates on the situation, which will also assist CAPTU members to keep abreast of developments.  

"We are also receiving numerous individual emails from members with requests for information, comments etc.  Please note that it is also impractical to reply immediately to all these communications."

On Monday afternoon, a video was released on the NMMU #FeesMustFall movement’s Facebook page showing leaders of the movement being arrested by the South African Police Service (SAPS).

They were apparently later released on bail.

Earlier in the day, a voice note had made rounds threatening students who may want to attend classes on Tuesday.