Statement from the Executive on the Interdict and Police action on campus

01 November 2015 | The UCT Executive

In terms of the interdict and the action by members of the South African Police Service on campus on Monday, 19 and Tuesday, 20 October 2015 the executive wishes to state the following.

Students and staff have shared with us that our decision to seek an interdict, the naming of certain individuals in that interdict, the communication on the day by the executive about the interdict, the resultant police action on the evening of 19 October and the morning of 20 October at the barricades, resulted in anger, anxiety, personal suffering, an exacerbation of tension and a diminishing of trust between protestors and the executive.

The only intention with obtaining the interdict was to protect the UCT community against unlawful behaviour if and when it occurred. It was not obtained to prevent or curb legitimate forms of protest nor to criminalise anyone involved in such action. Naming individuals in an interdict in no way criminalises them. An interdict is a warning not to break the law. It is not an accusation, allegation or assumption that one has already broken the law. If the interdict had these unintended perceptions (of criminalisation), then the executive apologises that that impression was created, especially to those individuals who were directly affected.

It is clear that staff and students were deeply affected by what occurred when the police subsequently enforced the interdict. The interdict and the SAPS action quickly became an additional obstacle to resolving issues. We recognized this and immediately pursued the cancellation of the interdict and the dropping of all charges.

We regret that the situation on the ground unfolded in the way it did. It had consequences that we did not intend. For that we apologise unreservedly.

We have learnt many valuable lessons from the challenging times we recently went through and moving forward we hope to build on these lessons. The executive and Council have agreed to the proposal of the Academics Union (and others) that we establish a joint task team to make recommendations on how different forms of protest should be dealt with in the future, including the question of the presence of police on campus.

Dr Max Price

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