13 May 2021 | Story Lacea Loader


The management of the University of the Free State (UFS) is aware of a post on social media on 11 May 2021 in which a call is made for a total shutdown and mass protest at the Bloemfontein Campus main gate on 14 May 2021. 

One of the matters mentioned in the post, is the interdict obtained by the UFS on 16 April 2021 in the Free State Division of the High Court of South Africa in Bloemfontein against 50 respondents, including their members and supporters. Although some of the respondents are members of the Institutional Student Representative Council (ISRC) it must be noted that the university has not prevented them to attend to any student matters or to fulfil their responsibility towards their role as the ISRC. 

The interdict implies, among others, that the respondents – including their members and supporters – may not participate in protest actions at any of the UFS campuses within 150 metres from any entrances to the campuses; take part in, or instigate disruptive or riotous behaviour that may result in damage to any of the university’s property, or infringe the rights of any staff member, student, and/or visitor to the university’s premises; and disrupt or interfere in any way with the normal activities of the UFS, including but not limited to blocking entrances to gates or buildings, and any academic or administrative activity of the university. 

In the court order, the South African Police Service (SAPS) and/or the Public Order Policing Unit are also directed to, among others, take all reasonable steps to ensure that the access to the campuses is not impeded; to prevent injury to persons or damage to property and to ensure adherence by the participants in a protest action within 150 meters of entrances to the university. The university may call on the SAPS to assist in enforcing the court order. When this happens, the SAPS is directed to take any and all necessary and reasonable actions to ensure compliance with the order.  

Another matter mentioned in the social media post, includes issues related to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). The university understands the dire financial situation that some of its students are facing and has frequent meetings on student-specific matters with NSFAS. Although the university is not the custodian of NSFAS funding – neither can the institution control decisions made by NSFAS, the university plays a facilitating role in the implementation of the funding guidelines prescribed by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), and implemented by NSFAS. 

The university management frequently engages with the ISRC on matters of concern to students and remains committed to continue doing so. In fact, we have also been engaging with the ISRC on this particular post.

Furthermore, the university remains committed to ensuring the safety of all its staff and students, to protecting facilities and infrastructure, and to ensure that the academic project is delivered uninterruptedly, and hence to safeguard, promote, and fulfil the constitutional rights of staff and students to education, safety, and security. 

Released by:
Lacea Loader (Director: Communication and Marketing)
Telephone: +27 51 401 2584 | +27 83 645 2454

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