student protest - Gauteng Local Division of the High Court

During October 2016 SERI was approached by over 25 students from Wits University after the University had resumed its academic programme in the wake of #FeesMustFall protests under certain “security measures”, including the presence of large numbers of private security guards and police officers from both SAPS and JMPD.

The students alleged that various searches had been put in place on campus – including the points of entry to the University and other buildings within the University. The University then introduced and implemented a campus curfew which, amongst other things, led to significantly reduced library hours and freedom of movement across the University and its residences.

In spite of these measures, protests continued at the University and confrontations between protesting students and the SAPS as well as private security, rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades were a reality.

In spite of the crippling atmosphere on campus, students continued writing semester tests and submitting essays and assignments. In the face of final exams scheduled to begin on 3 November 2016, the students argued that the situation on campus has been too volatile for any meaningful teaching and learning to take place, let alone exam preparation. They met with University management to request a postponement of the exam schedule to allow for better preparation in the circumstances, but were refused. 

The curfew was eventually relaxed after SERI approached the University.  SERI, as instructed by the students, filed an urgent application to interdict and restrain the University from going ahead with the planned exam schedule and to postpone the commencement of exams by at least 2 weeks.

On 3 November 2016, the High Court dismissed the students' application.