Campus Announcement: Fire on upper campus, 5 October 2016
5 October 2016
Dear colleagues and students
I regret to inform you that yesterday evening and early this morning protesting students attempted to “reoccupy” the Steve Biko Students’ Union building.
The group of students were prevented from entering and occupying the building at approximately 16:30 yesterday, 4 October 2016. They have been unlawfully occupying the building over the last two weeks. The UCT staff, that provide a number of services to students from the building, were unable to continue work or to enter their offices during this time. The building was secured with new locks and private security were placed at entrances to ensure the group did not reoccupy the building.
The group of protesters then gathered outside the Steve Biko Students’ Union building at around 18:00 and at some point aftermidnight the group increased to about 200 people. They started throwing stones at the security staff and attacking security guards with sticks. They stormed the building breaking doors (level 6) and windows (level 5) of the building.
The security tried to protect the building by forming a human chain but it was breeched and two students broke through and entered the building. Several petrol bombs were also thrown starting fires in the P9 parking area outside the Steve Biko Students’ Union building.
Protesters then ran amok on upper campus setting several fires. Security tried to extinguish the fires and attempted to disperse the group. One security officer was injured. The South African Police Services were called onto campus at approximately 01:00 and members attempted to bring the situation under control. A member of SAPS was hit by several stones. Six stun grenades were used. At 02:57 the fire was still burning on Jammie plaza. All other fires had been extinguished by this time. SAPS are still on campus.
It is the university’s hope and intention to restore the situation on upper campus to an extent that the institution can open today,Wednesday, 5 October 2016.
Executive Director: Communication & Marketing Department
Dear colleagues and students
The Executive of the University of Cape Town has made the decision to close all UCT campuses until and including Friday, 7 October 2016.
The key consideration is that the situation on campus is reaching a point where we are at risk of serious conflict and escalating violence and we will not be able to contain the situation without a very large increase in security and intervention by the South African Police Service. This would only serve to make matters worse and may lead to injury and even lives being at risk. While the university has tried to remain “open” the disruption to services and classes has been so severe and hence the decision was made to close all campuses.
Staff are requested to be in contact with their direct line managers.
A further, more detailed communication, from the Vice-Chancellor will follow.
Executive Director: Communication and Marketing Department
Issued by UCT, 5 October 2016