Sipho Masombuka

Sipho Masombuka

National Education Health and Allied Workers Union has approached the Pretoria high court for an interdict to stop University of South Africa's management from "sabotaging" students and staff protest plans, the union said.

Nehawu's Gauteng deputy chairman Amos Monyela said yesterday their lawyers filed papers for an application for the court interdict.

He said they had to suspend the protest action yesterday because Unisa principal Barney Pityana wrote a letter to Tshwane metro police saying the university's council chairman Mathews Phosa would not be available to accept the union's memorandum.

"We spoke to Phosa and he said he knew nothing about him not being available," said Monyela.

Led by Nehawu and South African Students Congress, more than 2000 staff and students were expected to protest at the university's main campus in Sunnyside yesterday but the protest was postponed to next week as it was declared illegal by the university and metro police.

Nehawu and Sasco accuse Pityana of using the university's resources to further the Congress of the People's political cause, mismanagement, corruption and disregard for staff and student's safety.

"Other students bodies are banned from the university but Cope is using the campus to facilitate the formation of its students wing," said Monyela.

He added that they were also concerned about "rampant tender process rigging" at the university.

Unisa's spokesman Doreen Gough said students were barred from entering the campus yesterday and today in the wake of the illegal protest.

"I am not aware of any court action or a letter written by the principal to the metro police. The protest is illegal and we have told the police to ensure that none of the university's property was damaged," she said.