4 October 2016
Dear colleagues and students
This afternoon at approximately 16:30 members of the University of Cape Town's Campus Protection Services and security staff entered the Steve Biko student union building on upper campus and after escorting three students out of the building, locked the building and proceeded to replace the locks on the doors.
This action was taken to ensure that the building could be returned to its rightful users. The building houses the Student Representative Council as well as members of the Department of Student Affairs who provide important services to students.
More than two weeks ago a group of protesting students had occupied the building unlawfully and despite requests to vacate the building they had refused to do so.
The occupiers entered offices and prevented UCT staff from working. While trying to continue with their operations, many staff found it impossible to work and some experienced it as a very hostile environment. Many SRC members' offices were also occupied and they were unable to function, with some protesting that the students were sleeping in their offices. This was both unlawful and a safety concern.
During the recent week of engagement with students the UCT executive tried to persuade the group to end the unlawful occupation of their own volition. Unfortunately this did not happen and the university took action to restore the building to its rightful users.
The protesting students are claiming that they have a right to the building but this is not correct. They have no right to occupy the building and were interfering directly with the rights of the rightful users who are employed by UCT to work in the building.
There have been some claims that the university has refused requests by the protesting students to collect their possessions from the building. The university has offered all protesting students the opportunity to be individually escorted into the building to fetch the items they have left there.
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