Update on steps taken to respond to Monday’s disruptions

07 June 2022 | Professor Sue Harrison

Dear colleagues and students

On Monday, 6 June 2022 a group of individuals who are neither employees nor students of the University of Cape Town (UCT) disrupted the exams scheduled for 12:00 on UCT’s upper campus.

UCT condemns these actions in the strongest possible terms. It is an infringement on the rights of students to sit their mid-year exams in a conducive environment. The university leadership has received devastating reports of the disruption impacting on students and staff including the tearing up of exam scripts of students who were being supported by UCT’s disability services in completing their exams.

This form of disruption is not legitimate protest.

Comprehensive support is being offered to the affected students and we will continue to do all that we can to assist staff and students impacted by Monday’s disruptions. Those students whose exams were disrupted will be informed of the re-sit times, including arrangements for those with particular support needs for completing their exams.

Due to the importance of securing the exam venues, protecting the rights of our students to complete their mid-year exams in a conducive environment and that the individuals causing the disruption were neither staff nor students, in terms of its processes, UCT requested that the South African Police Services (SAPS) come onto our campus. UCT laid charges of trespassing and malicious damage to property with the SAPS and an arrest was made on Monday afternoon.

UCT’s Campus Protections Services (CPS) secured all exam venues on upper campus, and exams that had been scheduled for the remainder of Monday 6 June proceeded as planned.

The university will be on heightened alert for any trespassers attempting to come onto our campus with ill intent. We have been in contact with our partners at the Groote Schuur Community Improvement District NPC (GSCID) to ensure that they continue with their designated mandate of providing safety and security in the public spaces and areas surrounding UCT. While the UCT CPS will similarly monitor UCT’s campuses and continue with their focus on campuses’ safety and security services.

The extent of the stress and pain from Monday’s actions is deeply distressing for all of us. We all acknowledge that writing exams can be a stressful and for this to have happened caused further unnecessary and unacceptable anxiety. The behaviour demonstrated on Monday is not befitting of a university environment, which is a space for rational engagement, robust if necessary, but always civil and respectful of the rights of all.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Sue Harrison
Acting Vice-Chancellor

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