UCT to lay criminal charges against protesting students

Cape Town – A number of University of Cape Town (UCT) students are facing criminal charges and a suspension from the institution, UCT management said.

“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,” UCT vice chancellor Max Price said.

Price said since student protest escalated violently on Tuesday evening, the university increased 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.”

Price said student protesters under the #RhodesMustFall banner reacted violently to the institutions request to move their protest shack. He said students invaded residencies and kitchens, burning barricades and stole portraits from residences. 

“We are determined not to allow a small group of violent protesters prevent 27 000 students and 4 500 staff from exercising their right to study and work in a safe environment... 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.” 

Price said a car and a bus were set alight and destroyed. He said a bus has been stolen from the institution.

“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.”

Price said the university would continue operations on Wednesday. #RhodesMustFall supporters are protesting against the university's lack of residence accommodation for students from poorer backgrounds.

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