On 19 February UP obtained an urgent interdict against AfriForum, AfriForum Youth and EFFSC-UP in an attempt to prevent the parties from disrupting campus operations. Despite this UP closed its gates for the day. Protests began at Prospect gate and moved to Lynnwood road where students attempted to set a tyre on fire. Police thwarted the attempt and in response protesters began throwing rocks at police. The police then resorted to deploying tear gas and shooting at students with rubber bullets. Students scattered and 27 individuals were arrested, one of whom was a Perdeby photographer.
The university reopened on Monday 22 February but was soon shut down again due to protests. Students wore black as part of the #UPBlackMonday and #Tuks27 social media campaigns in solidarity with the 27 students who were arrested. The students were charged with public violence and malicious damage to property. Students disrupted classes and then proceeded via busses to the court hearings of the 27 arrested students. The case was postponed to 7 April.
Students returned to campus but were met by an opposition group. A standoff ensued and police were called in to monitor the situation, which grew more violent when groups began throwing rocks at each other due to racial slurs being hurled at Afrikaans Must Fall protesters. The two groups eventually dispersed. A security guard and several student were injured in the clash.
Charges against three of the accused were dropped and the remaining students appeared in court on 7 April, 26 April, 19 July, and 2 August and on all occasions the case was postponed. On 12 September the students appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court where their defence requested for the case to be withdrawn. With regard to the constant postponements, Adv. Timothy Ramabulana said, “The postponement[s] [are] not in line with dispensing justice. There is always something wrong. At this stage, our submission and application is that the matter be struck because the state-house is a bit in disarray”.
Photo: Fezekile Msimang .