Planning for the return of students to university accommodation

21 April 2021 | Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng

Dear colleagues and students

The Table Mountain fire that affected large parts of the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Rondebosch campus on Sunday, 18 April, resulted in the emergency evacuation of approximately 4 000 UCT students. The evacuation continued late into the night.

We are deeply appreciative of the role played by the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) and so many of our staff in ensuring that the evacuation was completed safely. A small number of students were treated for smoke inhalation, and our Student Wellness Service is continuing to provide support where this is required.

We have fortunately been able to provide emergency accommodation for all affected students. Generous donations from across the country have provided for a steady supply of provisions, which have been distributed to our students. As with any emergency evacuation of this nature, there have been logistical challenges that we have worked hard to address. I am particularly grateful to the SRC for their close assistance in meeting these challenges.

Now that the fire is under control, we are planning for the return of students to university accommodation, and we have established a cross-divisional task team to coordinate this process. The first task has been to assess the condition of our campus in terms of health and safety. This process is underway.

Once we have cleaned the residences approved in terms of occupational health and safety, the task team will provide and coordinate transport back to university residences for all students in emergency accommodation. We will make alternative arrangements for those residences deemed unsafe due to fire damage.

We anticipate that we will be able to get students back into university accommodation on Thursday, 22 April, barring unforeseen issues. Our priority is the safety and health of every student, and to create the conditions necessary for a full return to the university’s academic programme as soon as possible.

I want to wish all our students well as they return to their studies.


Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng

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