Final interdictsInterdict - student protests - requisites


In Hotz v UCT (730/2016) [2016] ZASCA 159, the SCA considered an appeal against an order of the High Court, in terms of which a final interdict was granted against students involved in protests on the campus of the University of Cape Town.

In early 2016, protesters erected a shack on the UCT campus and created an exclusion zone around it, hindering the flow of traffic and pedestrians. During this time, protesters defaced statues and a war memorial, raided residences and took food meant for resident students, and damaged university property. After the demolition of the shack, protesters burnt vehicles and fire-bombed the Vice-Chancellor’s office.

The SCA held that UCT was entitled to a final interdict, but not under the broad terms granted by the High Court. The final interdict excluded the students from the campus without prior written consent first having been obtained from the V-C. In that respect, the SCA pointed out that the campus was traversed by public roads and constituted a public place. Moreover, the final interdict infringed the right to freedom of movement and the right to freedom of association.

Consequently, the SCA called upon the parties’ legal representatives to agree on a more limited order. The students refused any agreement that did not include certain conditions to be attached to the order, viz. the abandonment of all disciplinary proceedings against them and the establishment of an independent commission on student protests.


The SCA held that it could not attach such conditions to the final interdict. The function of a court is essentially adjudicative. There may be times when a court could exercise creativity in the formulation of an order, but it did not enjoy carte blanche to do whatever it wished or deemed appropriate. This was because the nature of judicial proceedings is ill-suited to understanding the full implications and nuances that would affect such a broad and general order. Furthermore, a court’s role was not to provide the solution to every social problem, but to make orders arising from the adjudication of disputes, on the basis of the evidence led and the legal submissions made.

Accordingly, the SCA confirmed that UCT was entitled to a final interdict, but altered the order to make it more limited in extent.

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