Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price hosted a media conference at the Protea Hotel in Mowbray with local and national media on Wednesday, 28 September. This came after the VC's call to the UCT community to use this week to engage with one another on ways to begin reconciliatory engagement and to address transformation issues in order that the campus can reopen on Monday, 3 October. At the media conference he said that failing to reopen campus on Monday would have disastrous consequences for UCT and the higher education sector as a whole. Not returning to class on Monday would make finishing the 2016 academic year nigh impossible. Students relying on passing this year's final exams in order to take up bursaries, job offers and to write professional qualification exams would be unable to do so, he said. The tragedy was that that poor students would suffer the most if the academic year could not be finished, he added.
In the interim, engagements are continuing and the VC has again indicated to the protesters that he is willing to meet with them and all stakeholders. The executive has also again indicated their openness to an institutional reconciliation process with a view to uniting the campus and developing a joint way forward. The executive has invited student leaders to come to the table to make this an urgent reality.
The university was officially closed at 11:30 yesterday due to concerns about the safety of staff working on campus. Earlier in the day protesters blocked the North entrance to upper campus. They also removed the keys from four Jammie Shuttles, disrupting the service. The VC views this behaviour as unlawful, intolerant and unacceptable. Another group of protesters blocked the Jammie Shuttle stop outside the Tugwell residence.
This morning groupings of protesters continued to move around the campus. Several barricades were also placed, causing traffic blockages. The Jammie Shuttle service has been cancelled after bus drivers expressed anxieties about their safety, having been targeted by protesters over the last few days.
The VC flew to Johannesburg yesterday evening to attend a meeting hosted by Universities South Africa (USAf). The meeting was called to discuss how universities across the country should respond to proposals from the minister of Higher Education, Dr Blade Nzimande, regarding fee increases and to discuss the ongoing disruptions on university campuses due to student protest action.
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