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NMMU, stakeholders and protesting students have until Thursday to find common ground

Oct 12, 2016
NMMU, stakeholders and protesting students have until Thursday to find common ground

The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) and its various stakeholders, including the protesting students, have until Thursday to find common ground, with the aid of a professional mediator, before the courts can intervene. That was the outcome of the court application brought about by the Concerned Association of Parents and others for Tertiary Education at Universities (CAPTU).

The case was heard in the Grahamstown High Court by Justice Alkema on Tuesday.

CAPTU meeting last week, lawyer and Senior Director at Wheeldon, Rushmere and Cole Inc. in Grahamstown, Brin Brody, said; “Our view is that the university has an obligation to open, to turn to the South African Police Services, Security Companies, to open the campus and look after the students and to continue with business based on contract, based on the Consumer Protection Act. We believe it can open in the same ways that other Universities have opened, such as Rhodes University in Grahamstown, which has opened for business."

The meeting then agreed to approach the High Court for an interdict against the NMMU that will compel them to open their doors again.

However, the NMMU, which brought out its lawyers, opposed the application.

In her response, Justice Alkema said that the NMMU must "immediately to engage the services of a trained, independent and suitably skilled mediator to engage all stakeholders identified". as necessary by the respondent in the mediation initiated urgently by the NMMU on 10 October 2016, namely the applicant, the Student Representative Council of the first respondent, NMMU #FeesMustFall; NMMU

The university was ordered to initiate the mediation process urgently on the same day [Tuesday] and engage CAPTU, the NMMU Student Representative Council (SRC), NMMU #FeesMustFall, SASCO NMMU, the NMMU Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command and NMMU Black Stokvel/Marikana.

Justice Alkema also said that if by close of business on Thursday, either CAPTU or the NMMU - after constructive engagement with the each other, does not believe that meaningful progress has been made towards the successful resumption of academic activities, either party is entitled to approach the High Court "on an urgent basis for such an order as it may deem appropriate to ensure the resumption of academic activities."

The parties must report back to the court next Tuesday on progress.

Following the court appearance, the NMMU #FeesMustFall protesters and three student leaders met with University management, represented by the acting Vice-Chancellor Dr Sibongile Muthwa, to hear feedback on the progress of their demands and to engage further on other issues in order to map a way forward.