UWC blazes possibly arson

2016-11-18 15:27
A firefighter works to extinguish a blaze. (AP)

A firefighter works to extinguish a blaze. (AP)

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Cape Town - Two fires at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) on Friday are believed to have been started deliberately.

Firefighters were battling the two blazes, one in a nature conservation area and the second in the veld behind the campus stadium, Cape Town fire services spokesperson Theo Lane confirmed on Friday afternoon.

Groups of students, as well as outsourced workers, were making their way around campus in a bid to mobilise others to join them, university spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo said.

Protesting students had also gathered at the university entrance, the main campus and at the residences.

Public order police were on the scene.

UWC #FeesMustFall leader Lukhanyo May distanced the movement from any destruction on campus, saying it is not behind the fires.

Victimisation

"We don't condone violence. We have nothing to do with his. There are figures using our legitimate cause as a cover for their personal things," he said.

Students and workers gathered on campus on Friday morning to discuss their support of security guards affected by the shutting down of the campus.

Many of those working for the campus security service provider were being victimised by their employer as they joined the students in their call for insourcing, May said.

"They have been summoned to their head office. But we have decided the company should come here to speak to them. The workers are being blamed for the shutdown, while we as students were responsible for it," he said.

On Friday morning, their gatherings were disrupted by police who fired stun grenades at them without provocation, May insisted.

He reiterated that the movement had not been involved in violence of any kind, except when supporters were defending themselves against police.

Tyhalibongo confirmed that the security service provider was involved in a dispute with its workers, but that the university had no part in the matter.

Earlier this week, UWC's Centre for Innovative Educational and Communication Technology was set alight and gutted.

As the building burned on Tuesday, about 20 computers were also stolen from the Castinga Lab.

Free quality education

When exams commenced last Monday protesting students tried to stop shuttles transporting other students to exam venues.

Clashes broke out between police, campus security and students. A campus vehicle was overturned and graffiti was sprayed on buildings.

Protesters threw rocks during confrontations with police at student residences.

Last week, the education and residential services office was set alight, after it had been refurbished following an arson attack during protests in 2015.

In September, when a fresh wave of protests started, UWC students submitted a memorandum detailing their demands.

Top of the list was free quality black-centred education. They wanted all student debt to be cleared and registration and application fees to be scrapped.

Other concerns related to safety and the affordability of accommodation, study materials and clinics.

Insourcing of workers is also included in their demands.

Read more on:    cape town  |  crime

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