18/01/2017 17:49 SAST | Updated 18/01/2017 22:54 SAST

University of Pretoria Threatens To Ban Fallists From Registering

#FeesMustFall activists facing charges can't register unless they promise in writing not to protest.

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Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) students flee chemicals from a fire extinguisher during #FeesMustFall protests in October 2016 in Pretoria. TUT protesting students attempted to shut down the Pretoria CBD, clashed with police who used rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse them.

The University of Pretoria (UP) is blocking certain Fees Must Fall activists from registering for the 2017 academic year unless they promise to behave.

Following accusations against the university from students on Twitter, the Huffington Post South Africa made contact with UP and verified that the accusations are in fact true. University management has sent letters to students who have criminal cases pending against them for their involvement in protests in 2016, warning them that their registration for 2017 is being reconsidered.

"Should you wish to register, kindly address a formal written request to the University management indicating why such a request should be considered favorably and what undertakings you are willing to give to avoid similar incidents as in 2016. You are not obliged to make any statement that will incriminate yourself," said the letter.

The deadline for the responses is January 23.

The letter is ambiguous and could indicate that the university has already rejected these students on the basis of their involvement in Fees Must Fall, as it's not clear what "undertakings" are expected.

This has raised concerns over the right to freedom of association, the right to protest, the right to administrative justice and the possibility of unfair discrimination against activists.

HuffPost SA asked the university to clarify the ambiguities and what exactly is being required, and is waiting for a full response. The university has so far said "it has a responsibility to ensure the academic program continues without disruption and to protect the interests of the student community including the right to a safe place of learning".

UP's secretary of the South African Students' Congress (Sasco) and former SRC president Thabo Shingange said that both the SRC and Sasco have scheduled meetings with the university's vice-chancellor to address the issue. Shingange said that the university's action is deeply disparaging because it flies against the movement's agenda of open access to education.