19 October 2016
Dear colleagues and students
This is an update on recent events at the University of Cape Town.
UCT seeking free internet access to all course and library resources
On Monday, 17 October 2016, UCT appealed to all cellular providers in South Africa to make access to UCT websites (including Vula) available for free. This would make it easier for students to access their course materials during the disruptions. ICTS is currently working with Telkom, Cell C and MTN to ensure free access to all course and library resources. Announcements will be made on the UCT website as soon as these services become available.
Public order policing on campus
You may have noticed a more visible presence of South African Police Service (SAPS) public order policing on campus today. SAPS are on campus within council-approved guidelines for the presence of police on campus. UCT continues working towards a more peaceful campus, while allowing legal protest action to occur.
One arrest for damage to RW James
On Monday, 17 October 2016, protesters broke through the doors of the RW James building on upper campus and disrupted activities in the building. Yesterday, 18 October, a case of malicious damage to property and breaking and entering was opened with SAPS against two students. One student has been arrested so far.
Unlawful activity on campus
In the early hours of 19 October there were reports of protesters throwing stones at private security, a fire started in a parking lot (put out by security), and a broken window in the Falmouth building on medical campus (a brick was later found in the room). UCT has received a report of improper behaviour by security staff on campus on 18 October and this is under investigation. We are also investigating the allegation that a student used a bladed guillotine as a weapon against security personnel.
Attack on security officers
A fight at Cissie Gool Plaza was reported at around 14:00 today; a group of protesters attacked two private security guards. Both security guards sustained significant injuries and were admitted to hospital. We appeal to anyone with information on these incidents to contact SAPS directly or phone Campus Protection Services on 021 650 2222.
Plenary session planned for today
The executive agreed to a formal request from the students calling themselves the SRC Candidates to restart the engagement process this afternoon. Both parties agreed that these discussions should take place in as peaceful an environment as possible, and to do what they could to de-escalate tensions on campus.
To this end, the executive agreed that the Jammie Shuttle service would be suspended for the duration of these discussions and that the libraries would be temporarily closed. After reaching this agreement the executive was deeply concerned to receive a number of reports of disruptions in the New Engineering and RW James buildings and Cissie Gool Plaza.
An appeal for an end to violence and confrontation
UCT recognises the right to engage in legitimate and peaceful protest action that is within the law and the disciplinary code of the university, and urges protesters to respect the rights of other members of the campus community to attend classes and continue with their work.
UCT cannot solve the challenges we face through violence and confrontation. The UCT executive appeals to everyone involved to engage with each other with kindness, respect and compassion, and to make whatever efforts you can to complete the academic year successfully.
Communication and Marketing Department