UCT shutdown will last until university agrees to #Shackville TRC student leader

2016-09-16 18:13
Students and workers hold a mass meeting at UCT to demand that students who were suspended, interdicted or expelled for #feesmustfall related protests be allowed to return immediately. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Students and workers hold a mass meeting at UCT to demand that students who were suspended, interdicted or expelled for #feesmustfall related protests be allowed to return immediately. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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Cape Town - Until the university pronounces and institutes a Shackville truth and reconciliation commission (TRC) within this year, academic operations at UCT will not resume, a student activist vowed on Friday.

Sinoxolo Mbayi was among those who led a group of determined students through the campus in pouring rain in a bid to shut down operations.

By 12:00, lectures were temporarily suspended until Monday, the university said.

Mbayi said that until their demands are met, the action will continue.

"Our main demand is that the university drop all charges and then embark on this [TRC] process. And we cannot have it off campus - it must happen here," he insisted.

"We need to visit the sites, and that can't be done while people are under the duress of interdicts and suspensions."

Struggle for student housing

A disciplinary tribunal was held on Thursday and Friday for three students linked to #Shackville protests earlier this year.

In February, students erected a shack on upper campus as a symbol of the struggle for student housing and financial exclusions.

The shack was later demolished by security.

Students began protesting on Thursday, calling for the university to reinstate students who had been suspended, interdicted, or expelled following the Fees Must Fall protests.

The students moved between campuses on Friday, singing, and calling for an end to lectures.

On Thursday, they gave UCT 48 hours to respond to their demands, or they would shut down the institution.

But according to UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola, no formal demands have been submitted to the university by the protesters.

Most of the university's information had been gathered via social media, he said.

SRC offices occupied

"There have been several engagements between the university executive and student movements and offers have been made to meet with the executive and discuss this. Unfortunately it was not responded to positively by some of the movements," he said.

Additional security will be brought onto the UCT campus and lectures are scheduled to continue on Monday, Moholola said.

On Friday afternoon a group of students had occupied the SRC offices in the Steve Biko Building. Mbayi said they would stay indefinitely.

SRC President said Rorisang Moseli said the request for the Shackville TRC was made in May this year.

"The petition was tabled and we engaged management requesting that the vice chancellor write back to the petition leader. To our knowledge the vice chancellor had done this almost a month ago," he said.

"We are now waiting for the continued engagement."

The SRC had been in discussions to acquire a facilitator on whom all parties agree so the process can be initiated, Moseli added.

Read more on:    uct  |  protests  |  education

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