19/01/2017 21:00 SAST | Updated 19/01/2017 21:03 SAST

It's About Safety, University Of Pretoria Says About Demand To Make Student Activists Promise To Behave

You can't return if you intend to cause 'public unrest' or 'violent action', says the university.

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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 says it's considering excluding certain #FeesMustFall activists from registering this year out of concern for the safety of others, but won't clearly explain what the students will have to promise in order to return to study.

"While the university respects the right of students to peaceful protest, we also need to ensure the safety of the university community, including both students and staff. We cannot allow students to re-register who intend to cause public unrest and/or to take violent action, or contravene high court orders as these actions are illegal," said a spokesperson for the University of Pretoria.

Earlier Huffington Post South Africa reported that the university had issued letters to certain activists, apparently those facing criminal charges related to last year's fees protests, instructing them to motivate for their readmission and warning that they would have to undertake to behave.

The spokesperson said those affected were "all students who were arrested, for whatever reason, related to the protests or contravention of the high court interdict".

There is still no real clarity on what undertakings the students will have to make, but the university confirmed this must be in writing.

"The letter requests that students make representations. Decisions on whether they be allowed to re-register will be made once the representations have been considered," he said.

The students have raised concern that they face being barred from the university for protesting, and that freedom of expression was being affected.

This is in the letter to the students: "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." The deadline for the responses is January 23.