UCT, UWC suspend classes

2016-10-10 19:00
Fire at UWC (Tammy Petersen, News24)

Fire at UWC (Tammy Petersen, News24)

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Cape Town – The University of Cape Town and the University of the Western Cape have suspended classes.

In a statement UCT spokesperson Gerda Kruger said the executive resolved to close on Tuesday.

"Engagements with key stakeholders took place over the weekend and are continuing. The meetings have been taking place with the students representative council [SRC] and particularly the SRC candidates, who are leading the protest action on campus at present," Kruger said.

Kruger added that the university was exploring options that would enable students to conclude the 2016 academic year successfully.

"Staff and their direct line managers are to agree on final working arrangements."

Kruger said residences would remain open along with other critical services.

"These services continue by staff arrangement with their direct line managers."

Private security off campus

Kruger said critical services include the student wellness service, the disability service, the refugee rights unit, services in the Masingene Building, student financial aid services, student treasury services, the campus protection services and critical services in the Bremner Building.

Kruger said private security company Vetus Schola "remains withdrawn from the campus until further notice in the hope that this will enable us to have more positive engagements".

"They will not be deployed on campus on Tuesday, 11 October."

Kruger said that the Jammie Shuttle service would not be operating and the institution's libraries would be closed on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the UWC executive said it empathised with students, staff and parents. It added that national engagement was needed.

"The resolution of the situation is, however, not only university specific but needs to be addressed at a national and sector-wide level."

Two weeks lost

The university added that the suspension of classes this week effectively meant it would lose two of the remaining four weeks of the academic programme.

"Discussions with deans and faculties are underway to determine which courses and modules are impacted by this loss of two weeks – and we are exploring alternative strategies and options, including blended learning."

The university further added that it was evaluating the impact of the loss of two weeks on the examination schedule that was meant to begin on November 7 "and will consider alternative plans if necessary".

"Meanwhile the university continues its efforts to engage with the [SRC], the broader student community and stakeholders in an attempt to normalise the situation on campus," it added.

Chaos at Wits

In Johannesburg a bus was set alight on the streets of Braamfontein, apparently by Wits University protesters.

Flames leapt out of the bus windows and smoke was seen billowing through the streets. The blaze was eventually extinguished by emergency services.

There were running battles between students and police as protests moved through the streets of Braamfontein on Monday afternoon. Three protesters were arrested.

Police fired rubber bullets from a Nyala armoured vehicle as it drove past students who pelted it with rocks. The university said three people had been arrested in Braamfontein while two were arrested on campus earlier.

Also earlier in the day, police fired stun grenades to disperse students who were pelting private security guards with rocks at the entrance of the Great Hall. The confrontation began after students tried to access the institution's Solomon Mahlangu House before being blocked by private security.

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