Dear students and colleagues
While most classes, tests and exams continued today, protesters caused severe disruptions to services and classes and vandalised a number of buildings. The Jammie Shuttle service was disrupted for a while and many libraries were closed for most of the day due to the protest action. Eight protesters were arrested for unlawful actions. The executive have condemned this behaviour and have warned protesters again that while protest is a constitutional right, it needs to be lawful.Unlawful action, where it occurs, is a violation of the interim interdict granted by the Western Cape High Court to prevent unlawful actions.
1. Disruptions on campus today
One student was arrested by the Mowbray South African Police Service (SAPS) for damaging Jammie Shuttle bus tyres this morning. Two students were arrested by the SAPS for public violence and violation of the court interdict when they barricaded Baxter Road on lower campus this morning. The barricades were removed by Campus Protection Services (CPS). Two unidentified male students were arrested by the SAPS for violation of the court interdict when they tried to force their way into the South African College of Music and prevented other students from accessing the building. Two students and one unidentified male were arrested by the SAPS when they tried to force their way into the Sports Centre on upper campus. One of the students is a citizen of the USA and the US Consulate has been informed of this arrest. Overnight, excrement was poured in the Snape, Robert Leslie and Computer Science buildings. Cleaning teams were arranged. A UCT staff member in a residence kitchen was admitted to hospital after she collapsed near the Tugwell/Marquard shuttle area. She was afterwards released from hospital. She is believed to have had an anxiety attack.
2. VC’s media conference
Today at 11:00 Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price hosted a media conference with Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng and Acting DVCs professors Hugh Corder and Daya Reddy. They addressed a number of topics, such as the purpose of the interdict, the completion of the academic year and the need for information from government on a fee increase.
3. Interim interdict
An interim interdict is in place. Protesters engaging in unlawful actions will be in contempt of the court order, which is a criminal offence and may lead to arrest. UCT encourages students not to compromise their futures by participating in unlawful protest.
Acting DVC Professor Hugh Corder spoke about the interim interdict granted by the Western Cape High Court earlier today. He explained that UCT applied for the interdict on Friday, 27 October, but it was only granted on Monday, 30 October, after the judge took the time to hear the arguments of the opposing party (led by the previous Students’ Representative Council members). A judge does not always take such a step, and in this case the opposing argument did not prevent the interdict from being granted. The interdict does not in any manner affect the right to protest. The only limits on this right are to conduct protest peacefully and unarmed. Only when that limit is exceeded will protest be affected by the interdict. The interdict opens the way to allow the vast majority of students and staff to go about their business on campus. That is their right. The impact of unlawful actions on campus, such as throwing excrement, slashing tyres, blocking road access, disrupting classes and making it necessary to shut the libraries until further notice, is devastating to students who are preparing in the two weeks before final examinations.
4. Catering halted in residences due to disruptions
Residences have stopped catering services due to disruptions. Students have been given food vouchers for breakfast, lunch and supper for today, 2 November 2017, and tomorrow, 3 November 2017. Decisions about catering services on the weekend will be made later this evening (2 November 2017) when the executive of the College of Wardens meet to discuss the situation. Those decisions will be communicated afterwards.
5. How to keep up to date about what’s happening on campus
False information about the disruptions at UCT is unfortunately being circulated on social media. Please monitor the official UCT platforms for confirmation of current events on campus.
Parents of UCT students can direct their queries to email@example.com.
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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.”