VC DESK: UCT committed to a safe study and work environment
Released: 23h50, 16 February 2016
Dear colleagues and students
As you now know from the previous campus communications today, the campus has been disrupted by a group of Rhodes Must Fall students who reacted to our request to move their protest shack with violence, invasion of residences, burning of barricades, portraits stolen from residences, invasion of residence kitchens, and general vandalism. They have made clear that their aim is to create a confrontation both with private security and with the police, and to shut down the university.
We are determined not to allow a small group of violent protesters to prevent 27 000 students and 4 500 staff from exercising their right to study and work in a safe environment. Since the violence started early this evening, we have increased the security presence on campus dramatically. The Public Order Policing unit of the South African Police Service have come onto campus and are supporting UCT security to bring the situation under control.
We have also unfortunately seen an escalation over the last hours in acts of criminality and vandalism by RMF protesters. Several fires have been started on the campus, which have been extinguished by Campus Security Services. A car and a bus have been set alight and destroyed. There are several protesters running amok and a bus has been stolen. Some stun grenades were used by the Public Order Policing unit to bring the group under control.
We are in the process of obtaining an interdict and will bring criminal charges against those involved. We have taken the step to suspend eight students.
We are bringing the situation under control with the help of the Public Order Policing unit and other police services.
It is utterly regrettable that a movement that began with such promise and purport to be fighting for social justice matters has now deteriorated into a group that engages in criminality and has only one agenda namely to close UCT operations down. Their behaviour is utterly unacceptable and can in no way be tolerated.
The University will continue operations tomorrow. Please watch the UCT website for the latest information.
Dr Max Price
Issued by UCT, 16 February 2016