Rhodes University welcomes the judgment by the Grahamstown High Court today that, among others, granted leave to appeal its earlier decision where a review application by Ms Yolanda Dyantyi against her exclusion from the University was dismissed with costs.
The University has always held that the rule of law is the cornerstone of our democracy, whose importance is self-evident. Where there is no respect for the law, accountability is compromised alongside the protection for human rights, human dignity and justice for all.
The arbitral role of the courts in upholding the rule of law is the only protection there is for society not to descend into chaos, anarchy and the reign of the law of the jungle.
The University further notes the referral by the Court to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for investigation, statements that the judgment found, cast aspersions on its ability to decide the dispute “in a manner that is fair to the applicant.”
The media statement by Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI), dated 4 September 2020 and released just ahead of the hearing of the application for leave to appeal, contradicted numerous findings by the Court in the review application.
A further incident during a virtual sitting of the Court last week, where Counsel appearing for Rhodes University was interrupted as he was addressing the Court, was also referred to the NPA. The interruption led to an unplanned adjournment.
The University reiterates the seriousness and urgency with which any offences involving sexual and/or gender-based violence are treated. Several students have, in the last three years, been excluded for offences involving sexual violence. These are in the public record. The University recognises and supports the right to peaceful protest, but will not condone serious violent offences in furtherance of such protest.
The necessary activism against gender-based violence cannot be used as a cover to operate outside of the Constitution and to violate the rights of other citizens.
The facts in the case had earlier warranted the Grahamstown High Court granting an interdict against Ms Dyantyi in 2017. The interdict dealt with the same charges that Ms Dyantyi faced in the independent hearing, namely: kidnapping, assault, insubordination and defamation. Ms Dyantyi appealed, and lost, against the interdict at the Grahamstown High Court, Supreme Court of Appeal and in a unanimous ruling by the Constitutional Court.
Download judgement here: Judgement by Nhlangulela DJP