NMMU welcomes Grahamstown High Court victory against CAPTU

NOVEMBER 11, 2016

The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) welcomed the Grahamstown High Court ruling in its favour, which essentially reaffirms the University’s belief that it had done all it could to meet its obligation towards the successful completion of the academic year, it said.

The Court on Thurdsay ruled in the University’s favour in the matter brought to it by the Concerned Association of Parents and Others for the Tertiary Education at Universities (CAPTU), essentially finding that the University had exhausted all available avenues in light of the challenges presented to it.

CAPTU had approached the Grahamstown High Court for an order compelling the university to, amongst others, resume academic activities and normal business operations within 48hours of the granting of the order.

This, during the six-week university shutdown as a result of the #FeesMustFall protests that began on 20 September 2016 – a day after Higher Education and Training minister Blade Nzimande made a pronouncement on 2017 fees.

In the urgent application, CAPTU had further requested the court to order a range of actions directed at usurping the discretionary powers of the University, which include ensuring the safety of both its staff and students.

Handing down judgement, Acting Judge AJ Beard found in favour of the University and ordered CAPTU to pay the University’s costs, including the costs of two counsels. In granting costs, the judge said that the relief sought by CAPTU was “strikingly inappropriate”.

The court found that there was nothing unreasonable in the University’s actions, and that the University “did not simply sit supinely by whilst the crisis unfolded”. The court approved of the measures taken by the University, which included hiring additional security, calling upon the assistance of the South African Police Service (SAPS), allocating designated protest areas and engaging in a process of mediation.

The court also made reference to the alternative teaching methods that the University implemented as part of its Academic Completion Plan. These include various secure off-campus venues and the redesigning of the assessment tasks.

“It is difficult to imagine what more the respondents (the University) could do.”

The court found that the order sought by CAPTU constituted little more than a “shopping list” of directions designed to ensure that the University’s business is managed in a manner prescribed by CAPTU. This, the court said, sought to deprive the University from acting in accordance with its legal duty “to act with care, skill, diligence and in good faith in the best interest of the University”.

Those entrusted with the management of the University, the court found, “clearly have discretion as to the manner in which the business activities of the University are best to be conducted”.

NMMU applauds this ruling and wishes to reaffirm its commitment towards successfully completing the 2016 academic year. We thank our staff, students, parents and guardians for their patience and support for the university’s academic completion plans.