Dear students and colleagues
This campus announcement aims to inform members of the University of Cape Town community about:
1. Release of the Fees Commission report
The University of Cape Town executive has taken note of the release of the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Feasibility of making Higher Education and Training Fee-Free in South Africa. The executive is grateful that the report has finally been released and that the university can begin the process of interrogating the report in order to come to an understanding of the impact on our institution.
On face value, the executive is impressed with the thoroughness of the report. It appears that the matter was taken very seriously and that many inputs from academics have been included in the final report. The report needs serious consideration and UCT will now study the details before commenting further. We eagerly anticipate the work of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Higher Education Funding.
2. UCT operations
UCT operations continue and the first exams started this morning. Jammie Shuttle services are running. UCT Libraries and all branch libraries are open, except for the Library Learning Lounge. Catering services remain suspended in residences up to and including Thursday, 16 November and food vouchers are being provided to the affected students.
3. Exam arrangements
The university management has had to take the extraordinary step of arranging an examination centre on the upper campus rugby fields. It has been set up according to the appropriate health and safety standards. Access will be restricted to students taking examinations, invigilators and staff who have accreditation to enter the venue.
Medical personnel will be on duty for the full duration of the examination and toilet facilities will be available in the examination centre. Please follow all instructions at the venue and always heed all safety considerations.
The bottom section of Madiba Circle (East) from the Sports Centre alongside the rugby fields towards the south exit/entrance is closed to all vehicle traffic until the conclusion of the exams. Foot traffic on Madiba Circle (East) from the Memorial Hall steps to the south of upper campus will be restricted.
Students arriving for exams may use the tunnel that leads between middle and upper campus, however it is advisable that other students (not writing exams) avoid the tunnel and rather use the Woolsack Drive pedestrian route to upper campus or catch the Jammie Shuttle from lower campus.
Please note that Campus Protection Services (CPS) officers will perform routine security checks, access control and monitoring in the exam centre and also in surrounding areas. The officers will be assisted by private security and members of the South African Police Services. Students and staff should expect a heightened security presence around the exam centre, however an effort will be made to minimise the security impact on students writing inside the venue. As an example dog patrols will be used at night, but will be minimised during the day and will not be used in the exam centre.
4. Important information on deferred exams
Recognising that there are students who feel psychologically traumatised by the protests to the extent that this would affect their performance in the exams, the Senate executive convened yesterday to discuss the conditions for granting deferral of exams for the November exam session. Details of the criteria for applying for deferred exams have been outlined by the Deputy Registrar.
5. Costs of the exams
The executive has previously expressed its regret that security needs be deployed to such an extent on campus to secure the exam venue and that such a significant step has had to be taken to consolidate multiple exam venues in one place. The construction of the exam centre will probably cost UCT several million rand. The executive deeply regrets the costs that the university has now incurred. As a result of these costs, the university will be restricted in its expenditure elsewhere. In the light of the consistent and violent attacks on UCT campus in the recent weeks (including four arson attempts) it was felt that there was no alternative option.
The action of the protesters has caused UCT to incur significant costs over the past two years. In 2016 and towards the end of 2015 UCT paid approximately R24.28 million, of which R10 million was covered by insurance, to secure students, staff and its campuses. This was not a budgeted cost and has increased pressure on the university’s already deeply constrained resources.
6. Report on disruptions
Since the granting of an interim interdict by the Western Cape High Court, 11 cases have been opened with the South African Police Service (SAPS) in connection with unlawful protest action, which is in violation of the court interdict. This has resulted in 12 persons being arrested and/or charged, 11 of whom have been confirmed as UCT students.
In terms of arrests made, a student was arrested for slashing the tyres of a number of Jammie Shuttle buses; two students were arrested for barricading Baxter Road on lower campus; one student and one unidentified male were arrested for forcing their way into the South African College of Music, damaging the doors of the building, and setting off fire alarms; two students and one unidentified male were arrested for attempting to enter the Sports Centre on upper campus; and four students were arrested for attempting to set a vehicle alight outside the John Day Building.
In terms of arrests not yet made, a case has been opened and warrants of arrest issued against a student for forcing their way into the South African College of Music, damaging the doors of the building, and setting off fire alarms; a case has been opened against a student for blocking the south entrance to upper campus; a case has been opened against a student for disruptions and damages at the Sports Centre on upper campus; and a case has been opened against an individual using hate speech and inciting violence on social media.
In terms of unidentified suspects, a case has been opened against unknown suspects for an attempted arson attack on the HW Pearson Building; a case has been opened against unknown suspects for an arson attack on the Computer Science Building, and a case has been opened against four unknown suspects for an attempted arson attack on the exam centre on the UCT rugby fields. The suspects fled the scene in a black Opel Corsa. In all these cases the quick reaction by security staff prevented the fires from spreading.
7. Reward for information relating to unlawful acts
The university is offering a reward of R30 000 for information leading to the arrest and successful prosecution of anyone who commits an unlawful act on campus. If anyone has any information about any of these incidents please report this to CPS on 021 650 2222.
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In a statement to UCT students, Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price said:
“I wish no student to be ignorant about what constitutes unlawful protest behaviour.
Disruption of classes, blocking of entrances or exits, interfering with traffic flow, putting up barricades that prevent people from conducting normal business or attending classes, and any form of intimidation – whether physical or verbal – is unlawful.”