South Africa

Strike: Tuks gets interdict against staff, students who opened case against university

Tuks gets interdict

The University of Pretoria (UP) has obtained a court order against striking workers who opened a case against the university after the police fired rubber bullets on Monday.

Wage dispute between Nehawu and UP

The strike formed part of a wage dispute between the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) and UP, which turned chaotic on Monday when police fired a stun grenade and rubber bullets to disperse the group of workers at the Hatfield campus, east of Pretoria.

Nehawu chair at UP Tlou Matuba led the group of workers to the Brooklyn police station where they opened two cases, one against the police and another against the university.

Matuba said they went to the police station to make sure justice would be served. “When we left our picket place to come here, we are not scared and will not be intimidated by anyone.”

He said they were not playing and “don’t want the cases we have opened to be thrown into dustbin”.

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Matuba said the victims who suffered injuries during the protest on Monday were also called in as witnesses.

But it could still not be confirmed how many students or workers were injured.

Important for students to show solidarity

Student activist at UP Tarik Lalla said it was important for students to show solidarity with the workers.

“When we led actions for the registration of the students, the workers came to our aid. And what we see here today is an institution that shows us arrogance in the face of workers and students.”

He said students also had grievances such as struggling to register because they could not afford it, despite being academically deserving.

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“Monday’s incident was insidious, the fact that the police brought firearms to a university where students and workers do not have firearms.

“We don’t bring firearms to university but on Monday police did, only with the knowledge of the UP security services.”

UP security service

Lalla added that when one enrols at the university, one is told to phone the UP security service when one felt in danger.

“Now, they are actively participating in the harm of people. When police opened fire on Monday, there were students who were not part of the protest [who] were also shot at,” he said.

Lalla said it was clear UP security was not protecting the workers or the students, but their property.

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“Students ran away. There was a singled flash grenade and that was enough to disperse the crowd but still police opened fire with rubber bullets. The worst is UP security did nothing but stand alongside police.”

Interdict against striking workers

UP spokesperson Rikus Delport said the university obtained a court interdict against striking workers, affirming its commitment to the safety and security of the university community.

“The court’s decision… imposes restrictions on activities that could disrupt the university’s operations,” he said.

“The interdict prohibits any unlawful interference with the university’s operations, activities and academic programmes. It further mandates a ban on any violent or unlawful conduct in pursuit of wage demands, including harassment, assault, prevention of services, interference with traffic and damage to property.”

He said the university faced significant financial challenges.

“Factors such as modest income growth (at 2.5%), high staff costs, high student debt and operational expenses have contributed to the decision to manage the salary bill.”

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