UCT shut down… again

Signs of destruction in front of the Jamieson Hall, left behind by protesting students.

The University of Cape Town has been once again shut down until Monday October 10, as the executive felt they were not able to contain the situation without a large security presence and intervention by SAPS.

This came moments after UCT released a statement online, stating operations at the campus would go ahead as per normal, despite a small group of protesters causing disturbances.

The latest statement read: “This would only serve to make matters worse and may lead to injury and even lives being at risk. While the university has tried to remain ‘open’ the disruption to services and classes has been so severe and hence the decision was made to close all campuses.”

Some students attempted to re-occupy the Steve Biko Students’ Union Building on Tuesday October 4.

The group of students were prevented from entering and occupying the building, which they had been unlawfully occupying over the past two weeks.

The UCT staff who provide a number of services to students from the building, were unable to continue work or to enter their offices during this time, after it had been secured with new locks and private security guards, who were placed at entrances to ensure the group did not re-occupy the building.

Vice-chancellor, Dr Max Price, once again reminded those who are protesting that the “executive’s door remains open” and he urged them to return to mediation so that “together a solution can be found to the current impasse”.

“During the morning, some lectures were disrupted, but most classes went ahead without disruption for the rest of the day,” Dr Price said.

The small group of protesters were dispersed when they tried to block both the north and the south entrances to upper campus, with two protesters being arrested and charges being laid against them.

The group of protesters gathered outside the building at around 6pm and at some point after midnight, the group increased to about 200 people. They started throwing stones at the security staff and attacking security guards with sticks. They stormed the building breaking the doors and windows of the building.

“The security tried to protect the building by forming a human chain, but it was breached and two students broke through and entered the building. Several petrol bombs were also thrown, starting fires in the P9 parking area outside the Steve Biko Students’ Union building,” UCT said in a statement released online.

Protesters then ran amok on upper campus, setting several fires and security tried to extinguish the fires and attempted to disperse the group, resulting in one security officer being injured.

SAPS were called onto campus at approximately 1am and members attempted to bring the situation under control.

A member of SAPS was hit by several stones and stun grenades were used. At about 2.57am, the fire was still burning on Jammie plaza and all other fires had been extinguished by this time.

UCT confirmed that SAPS remain-
ed on campus to monitor the situation.

“The executive wants to reiterate that while the protesters have a right to lawful protest, and protesting is within the UCT code of conduct, the rights of the majority of students and staff to return to work should also be respected,” Dr Price said.