Three former student leaders who were expelled for five years following violent protests at the Tshwane University of Technology last year have lost their urgent bid to be allowed back on campus.
The High Court in Pretoria this week postponed the application by EFF student wing members Mildred Nkhwashu and Hector Singuni and Student Christian Organisation member Precious Rapetsoa to set aside their expulsion so that further court papers could be filed.
No ruling was made on their urgent bid aimed at forcing the university to allow them to continue with their studies. Judge Bashier Vally recommended that the parties should approach the court for an expedited date so the matter could be finalised before the end of October.
The university’s student affairs representative committee barred the three former student representative council members from registering as students until 2021 after they pleaded guilty to serious charges of misconduct.
This followed violent protest action at the Soshanguve campus in February last year as part of the #FeesMustFall movement aimed at securing free university education, which included the forceful removal of senior campus staff from a management meeting.
The three claimed they were not the students behind the violent protest action, although they stood next to the then SRC deputy president Sithembiso Shandu when he addressed the students. They said they were only carrying out the will of the student body of the university.
They said they pleaded guilty in exchange for a lesser sanction and were treated unfairly as they never had a full hearing, nor a proper chance to defend themselves.
All three said they came from poor families and the five-year ban would prevent them from studying elsewhere, deprived them of their constitutional right to education and would probably sink their academic careers.
The university said the three only had themselves to blame as they had pleaded guilty to serious transgressions which constituted an unequivocal admission that they were actively involved in the protest action which disrupted the university’s academic programme.
The university said even if the court granted an interim interdict preventing it from carrying out the sanctions, it was already too late for them to register for the 2017 academic year.