Dear colleagues and students
Students are protesting at a number of locations on the University of Cape Town (UCT) campuses. Protest actions are causing disruption to vehicle access to campus and to the UCT Shuttle service. There have also been disruptions to the student registration process.
The protests relate to two issues. Firstly, a student has been accused of sexual harassment and rape. This complaint is being investigated urgently by the Special Tribunal for Gender Based Violence. We maintain a survivor-centered approach whilst ensuring that a fair and due process is concluded as swiftly as possible. Any student or staff member who has experienced sexual assault or sexual and gender-based violence is encouraged to contact the Office for Inclusivity and Change (OIC). We know that reports related to instances of sexual and gender based violence can be difficult to hear or read. We invite any staff member who might be affected to seek support from Human Resources and any student to approach the Student Wellness Services.
Secondly, protests are about the block on re-registration for the new academic year that applies to students who have outstanding fee debts of more than R1 000. Accumulated student fee debt is an ongoing challenge for UCT, along with all other universities in South Africa. The Executive is engaged with the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) in seeking a way forward on this issue.
All protests have been peaceful. As a university, we recognise and respect the right to peaceful protest.
Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng
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