15 September 2016
Dear colleagues and students,
A group of about 200 protesters – including University of Cape Town (UCT) workers and students, and students from other universities – is moving between various buildings on lower campus and along Main Road between Rondebosch and Observatory. We understand that the protest may move later to Bremner building on middle campus and Jammie Plaza for a public meeting at 13:00.
Campus Protection Services is monitoring the group and the first priority is the safety of people on campus. Protest action earlier this morning temporarily disrupted the Jammie Shuttle service on lower campus and the Sandown route has been cancelled until further notice.
It is understood that the protest is connected with the student disciplinary tribunal that is taking place off campus today.
It is important to stress that UCT has only instituted action against a very small number of students who are alleged to have committed criminal acts including assault, intimidation, arson and vandalism during the protests earlier this year.
This morning a University Student Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) process, which was initiated in May this year for three students, has resumed. This process should not be interfered with and needs to be completed.
Earlier in the year, an SDT resulted in two students being expelled after a plea-bargaining process in which they admitted guilt. They are appealing the sanction and so the final outcome is not yet determined.
The university has an interdict in place against three students, two of whom are in the current SDT and one who was in the previous SDT. The interdict was applied for and granted by a judge on the grounds that this was necessary to protect the campus community and property. This is subject to an appeal to be heard in the Supreme Court of Appeal on 29 September 2016.
Given that thousands of people have engaged in protests, even disruptive ones, over the last 18 months, it is evident that the SDT and interdicts, which involve five students, are not a tactic to undermine protest.
The university encourages all on campus to behave with respect for the rights of others, including those of staff members and students who choose not to take part in protest action.
Classes and lectures are continuing on all UCT campuses today.
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