Gratitude to all for dedication and hard work

09 April 2020 | From Kgethi

Dear colleagues, students and other members of the university community

We are approaching the two-week mark of the national lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in South Africa. This is part of a global effort to stop the pandemic. It has required discipline from every individual and I am very grateful for all that each one of you is doing in your respective roles to keep the university going during this difficult time. Our lives have changed dramatically and every member of the University of Cape Town (UCT) community has had to adapt to a new and demanding reality.

While no one knows yet what will happen on 16 April 2020 (the date that has been set for the end of the lockdown), as a community we will have to respond to what is to come. This will take an extraordinary collective effort.

Across South Africa, higher education institutions are facing similar challenges and seeking inventive, sustainable solutions. There are sector-wide considerations being worked out in the spirit of protecting the academic endeavour and the future of higher education. As vice-chancellors across the sector, we are discussing problems and sharing insights.

I want to assure you of the commitment of the UCT executive and the Leadership Lekgotla (comprising the deans and executive directors) to do all that is practically possible to steer the institution through this difficult and uncertain time to the new normal. At all levels of our institution, colleagues are working extremely hard to ensure that the academic enterprise and its many necessary support operations continue, even in this new, remote working environment.

The hard work that is necessary to shift to online learning is placing enormous additional pressure on academics in particular, but also on the professional, administrative and support staff who contribute to the online enterprise with their expertise. In addition, the complexities of the times are demanding from all a new level of flexibility, transparency, and action-oriented adjustments to protect the academic enterprise and our institution. UCT’s response to COVID-19 is an enormous undertaking, requiring us to overcome multiple challenges, and I am humbled by the efforts I am seeing in our community. We owe a debt of deep gratitude to those involved in this undertaking.

But these are not the only heroes at UCT: across the entire institution, staff members and students are making extraordinary efforts – from their homes, working remotely, they are responding with resilience, creativity and endurance. Thank you!

Many members of the UCT community are volunteering to help serve people with many different needs. Experts and specialists are assisting at provincial or national level, serving on the front-line of this health battle. There are many other examples of the collective efforts of departments and teams, all of them focusing their creativity, energy and selfless commitment to keep UCT’s services and systems in working order.

The necessity to work remotely, coupled with the difficulties of lockdown, is putting unprecedented additional pressure on everyone. Colleagues are working harder than before, in more complex circumstances, as they deal with the demands of home, family and work in the same time frame and space. Students are facing their own complexities as they prepare for the possibility of studying while at home. The practice of social distancing is demanding in itself. It takes special, focused effort to keep from feeling isolated.

It is absolutely necessary to reach out to each other in a positive way during this time. One of the sure ways to overcome this challenge, as a community and as an institution, is to make a committed effort to connect with each other: with loved ones, with social groups, with networks and teams, albeit in a new way and with perhaps a renewed commitment to support and to hold one another.

It is uplifting to hear about members of the UCT community finding creative ways to do exactly that. Colleagues, for instance, are settling into new ways of working, finding ways to balance the 24/7 demands and to remain healthy and positive in their outlook. It is so important for each of us to take responsibility for our own wellness and for those around us. This is a commitment we all can make to ourselves and to those we love.

Another important commitment is to seek help when we need it. If you are battling with the stress of lockdown, please make use of the services that are available to UCT staff and students, even while you are off campus.

Every effort, no matter how small and personal, is a source of hope, along with all the tireless efforts being made on a provincial and national level to bring the pandemic under control. And for these efforts, both great and small, I thank each of you.

Please visit the Coronavirus Disease 2019 page on the UCT website regularly for more information and updates.


Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng

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UCT’s response to COVID-19

COVID-19 is a global pandemic that caused President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a national disaster in South Africa on 15 March 2020 and to implement a national lockdown from 26 March 2020. UCT is taking the threat of infection in our university community extremely seriously, and this page will be updated with the latest COVID-19 information. Please note that the information on this page is subject to change depending on current lockdown regulations.

Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, has in June 2022 repealed some of South Africa’s remaining COVID-19 regulations: namely, sections 16A, 16B and 16C of the Regulations Relating to the Surveillance and the Control of Notifiable Medical Conditions under the National Health Act. We are now no longer required to wear masks or limit gatherings. Venue restrictions and checks for travellers coming into South Africa have now also been removed.

In July 2022, the University of Cape Town (UCT) revised its approach to managing the COVID-19 pandemic on UCT campuses in 2022.
Read the latest document available on the UCT policies web page.


Campus communications


Adjusting to our new environment 16:50, 23 June 2022
VC Open Lecture and other updates 17:04, 13 April 2022
Feedback from UCT Council meeting of 12 March 2022 09:45, 18 March 2022
UCT Council
March 2022 graduation celebration 16:45, 8 March 2022
Report on the meeting of UCT Council of 21 February 2022 19:30, 21 February 2022
UCT Council
COVID-19 management 2022 11:55, 14 February 2022
Return to campus arrangements 2022 11:15, 4 February 2022

UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre

On Wednesday, 20 July, staff from the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Faculty of Health Sciences came together with representatives from the Western Cape Government at the UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre at Forest Hill Residence to acknowledge the centre’s significance in the fight against COVID-19 and to thank its staff for their contributions. The centre opened on 1 September 2021 with the aim of providing quality vaccination services to UCT staff, students and the nearby communities, as well as to create an opportunity for medical students from the Faculty of Health Sciences to gain practical public health skills. The vaccination centre ceased operations on Friday, 29 July 2022.

With the closure of the UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre, if you still require access to a COVID-19 vaccination site please visit the CovidComms SA website to find an alternative.


“After almost a year of operation, the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Community of Hope Vaccination Centre, located at the Forest Hill residence complex in Mowbray, will close on Friday, 29 July 2022. I am extremely grateful and proud of all staff, students and everyone involved in this important project.”
– Vice-Chancellor Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng

With the closure of the UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre, if you still require access to a COVID-19 vaccination site please visit the CovidComms SA website to find an alternative.

Thank You UCT Community

Frequently asked questions


Global Citizen Asks: Are COVID-19 Vaccines Safe & Effective?

UCT’s Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM) collaborated with Global Citizen, speaking to trusted experts to dispel vaccine misinformation.

If you have further questions about the COVID-19 vaccine check out the FAQ produced by the Desmond Tutu Health Foundation (DTHF). The DTHF has developed a dedicated chat function where you can ask your vaccine-related questions on the bottom right hand corner of the website.

IDM YouTube channel | IDM website


“As a contact university, we look forward to readjusting our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in 2023 as the COVID-19 regulations have been repealed.”
– Prof Harsha Kathard, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning

We are continuing to monitor the situation and we will be updating the UCT community regularly – as and when there are further updates. If you are concerned or need more information, students can contact the Student Wellness Service on 021 650 5620 or 021 650 1271 (after hours), while staff can contact 021 650 5685.