NMMU must appear in Grahamstown High Court on Tuesday over continued shutdown

OCTOBER 10, 2016

A case against the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University's (NMMU) continued shutdown is set to be heard in the Grahamstown High Court on Tuesday after disgruntled parents decided to take the institution to court after it shut its doors owing to ongoing #FeesMustFall protests.

According to Nelson Mandela Bay Ratepayers Association Chairperson and member of the Concerned Association of Parents and others for Tertiary Education at Universities (CAPTU), Kobus Gerber, lawyer, Advocate Terry Price, started the petition to re-open the NMMU and received over 4 500 responses while a similar campaign by the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Bay received about 11 400 responses "which gave us an indication to take the next step".

"We established CAPTU on Wednesday nightwhich represent parents and students who would like to see the NMMU re-open," said Gerber.

"A committee was formed and met with Attorney Brin Brody on Thursday at their Grahamstown offices Wheeldon, Rushmere & Cole Inc. We drew up a demand to the NMMU, which was emailed to the NMMU at 12h00 on Thursday (see attachment) and only received an acknowledgment from NMMU at 16h15.

"We drew up a High Court Application which was served in Grahamstown High Court on Friday morning and emailed to NMMU thereafter to be heard on Tuesday the 11th of October 2016 (as attachment). If our application is successful NMMU should open on Thursday, we will be negotiating with SAPS and Security Companies for additional security to ensure the safe return of all students."

This comes, when the NMMU on Friday night said that it cannot open its campuses on Monday, October 10th, as it had planned.

Differences on how to address access to higher education 

The #NMMUFeesMustFall movement maintains that keeping the university's campuses is the only way to force government to listen to their calls for a 0% fee increase in 2017 - or even better, free higher education. However, the march came as concerned parents are taking legal action to force the NMMU to open doors for the resumption of the academic year.

On Wednesday, the NMMU said that it is preparing for students to return to classes to conclude the 2016 academic year - although no date for the resumption has been decided.

Meanwhile, the #OpenNMMU group, which, as the name suggests, wants the NMMU to reopen, has entered into their second day of its silent protest, and will continue until Friday. It met with the #NMMUFeesMustFall on Wednesday.

#FeesMustFallReloaded

#FeesMustFall protests broke out on the 19th of September across the country after the Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, recommended an 8% fee increment for affording students.

The shutdown at the NMMU is now in its third week and the university, last week, stated that if students do not return to class next week, it will be forced to shut down for the 2016 academic year.

That will effectively mean that students will have to repeat the year again in 2017 – a particularly stressful prospect, especially for paying parents as well as international students.

The NMMU released a list of responses to Frequently Asked Questions relating specifically to various issues and challenges at the university. Click here > FAQS

Several efforts to resolve the impasse at the NMMU have failed.

Different groups - different agendas

Preventing the speedy resolution to the impasse at the institution is that divisions have since emerged among the protesting students.

Various student groupings, including the Student Representative Council (SRC), initially formed a coalition to collectively voice their concerns in relation to the announcement, but were divided in their approach.

However, by the 21st of September, it emerged that the SRC was no longer part of the coalition. At the end of the week, the  NMMU had actually received petitions from four different student formations in Port Elizabeth and George, and responded to each by last Sunday evening.

Below are the four memoranda received from four student formations at NMMU being the SRC, the George Campus Student Council, the student FMF coalition in PE and the FMF movement on the George Campus.

The NMMU has held meetings with student formations. The SRC also recently held a public meeting at the city hall where things did not go so well