Dear Executive Management
University of Pretoria
Re: Students Response to management’s feedback dated 7 July 2016.
Above mentioned letter refers,
We have been instructed by our clients (“Tuks24”), to respond to your feedback regarding the question of the university’s involvement in the criminal case against Tuks24. It is apposite at this stage to give a background of the university’s resultant involvement in this criminal case.
On 19 February 2016, twenty seven (27) university of Pretoria students were arrested and charged with amongst others, public violence, malicious damage to property and trespassing. This was due to an interdict the university has against its students, and a peaceful march to the university Lynwood Road entrance. Upon an analysis of the evidence against the students, the National Public Authority (“NPA”) decided to charge Tuks24 with only public violence. The case has had numerous postponements due the NPA’s unreadiness to proceed. Tuks24 next court appearance is 19 July 2016.
University’s response to Tuks24 arrest
It is our instruction that, on or about January of 2016, during the Outsourcing Commission, chaired by one Professor Maluleke (the now special advisor to the Vice Chancellor of the university of Pretoria, who was present and gave executive management response at a meeting dated 1 July 2016 mentioned below), Professor Cheryl de la Rey, the Vice Chancellor of the university, in her address intimated the following: She would like normality restored on campus as soon as possible. This was as a result of protests relating to the outsourcing of staff component, during the protest, a few members of the public and staff were arrested. She explained that she has “influence” at Brooklyn Police Station, and is “willing” to exercise that influence, to get arrested members of the public and staff released, contingent on a resolution of issues being resolved on campus and campus restored to normality.
It is our instruction that this prompted a request by Tuks24, to the university management, that all parties meet in order to see how best the university can assist Tuks24 in their criminal case. It is against this backdrop that Tuks24 were shocked at the university executive’s response on their letter dated 7 July 2016.
During Tuks24’s court appearances, the university has provided transport to and from the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court, where the case against Tuks24 is being heard. They have also excused Tuks24 and other students from writing tests, assignments and other academic related activities on the days of court appearances. Tuks24 remain appreciative of that gesture.
Furthermore, with the addition to the support mentioned above, and as per correspondences between university management and Tuks24, Tuks24 expressed their frustrations regarding the university’s supposed detachment from Tuks24 and their criminal case.
It is our instruction that Tuks24 feels as if the university is not doing enough to assist them with regards to the on-going criminal trial, which is as of a result of the Afrikaans Must Fall protest (“#AfrikaansMustFall”). It is common cause that initially, the university made a concerted effort in terms of securing the release of Tuks24 on bail, and since then, there has been no effort from the side of the university to assist Tuks24 any further. As such Tuks24 requested that a bilateral meeting be held between students and executive management. Tuks24 were represented by their legal representatives during these meetings.
Meeting between Tuks24 and executive management held 2 June 2016
It is our instruction that after numerous postponements on the side of executive management, due to the fact that the university wanted only ten accused present at the meeting, Tuks24 had to take their plight to the Transformation Lekgotlha, which was formed to address the #AfrikaansMustFall debate. Former Constitutional Court Justice Yvonne Mokgoro issued directives to the executive management to hold talks with all Tuks24 regarding their criminal case.
A meeting was held on 2 June 2016 between Tuks24, members of the university’s executive committee which included Professors Duncan in his capacity as acting Vice Chancellor, Professor Stroh, Professor Koorinhoff, Dr Danie Brand in support, of Tuks24 the legal representatives of TUKS24 being Adv Sekwakweng and Adv Matlapeng as well as Adv Laka SC, who was appointed to be the mediator between university management and Tuks24.
Tuks24 requested amongst others the following from university executive:
- That the executive considers making a public pronouncement supporting Tuks24 in their criminal case;
- University assist the Tuks24 in making legal representations to the NPA pledging their support for the criminal charges against Tuks24 be dropped;
- That the university withdraw its interim court interdict which is intended to be used as evidence against Tuks24.
- Should the criminal case continue, the university should consider assisting Tuks24 financially with regards to legal fees?
The agreed time of response from the university was to be 16 June 2016(being two weeks after the aforementioned meeting).
The university failed to respond within this time period. Furthermore it is after a reminder from the legal representatives of Tuks24 on 20 June 2016 and a further reminder from one of the Tuks24 accused’s dated 24 June 2016. University management responded and a meeting was scheduled for 1 July 2016. At that meeting, the university management responded to the above-mentioned request by rejecting everything, however pledged its continued support regarding the buses and academic related support to Tuks24 and their fellow supporters during court appearances.
It was agreed that the university management would re –look the issue of supporting the representations to the NPA and come revert back to the legal representatives. The university responded on 8 July 2016 with a letter dated 7 July 2016. It is important to note that during the meeting, it was stressed that the legal representatives needed to make the legal representatives to the Senior Prosecutor as soon as reasonably possible bearing in mind, that the criminal case was to be heard on 19 July 2016.
It was agreed that the legal representatives would send a sample of the nature and contents of the legal representations that were to be made to the NPA to the university management. At the meeting held 1 July 2016, the legal representatives intimated that they will be forwarding sample(s) of the representatives, which were to be sent to the Senior Prosecutor. What would differ are the personal circumstances of each accused. The reason for that is that, Professors Duncan and Stroh explained that they needed an idea as to the contents of the legal representatives which were to be presented during a university council meeting to be held on 5 July 2016.
While Tuks24 remain appreciative of the above mentioned initiative by the university, it is our instruction that Tuks24 are flummoxed and disappointed at the response by university management where they say:
After considering the material you had submitted to us on behalf of the group of university of Pretoria (“UP”) students that you are representing, the university has decided that it cannot submit the letter of support to accompany your representation to the National Prosecuting Authority. The information provided to the university relates to only three cases and therefore it’s not sufficient to enable the university to consider all the relevant facts required to comply with your request.
It is our instructions at this stage, to refrain from further communications or deliberations with the university. Since it is clear, that the university is not willing to assist Tuks24 by either having its interim interdict withdrawn, or assisting Tuks24 in making representations to the Senior Prosecutor, and exercising its “influence”. It is our instruction that the university has not acted in good faith during the engagements initiated by Tuks24. Why the university failed to support the three students that the legal representatives submitted is strange, given that it was agreed that the university just wanted an idea as to the contents of the representations which were eventually submitted to the Senior Prosecutor.
It must be highlighted furthermore, that after consideration of the evidence against Tuks24, the prospects of success will not be hindered or affected by the university’s refusal to make representations to assist Tuks24 moving forward.
It is our further instructions that Tuks24 reserve their rights.
Adv MT Matlapeng Adv MD Sekwakweng
Sandown Chambers New Court Chambers