UCT protesters: We want to avoid court action

2015-04-13 11:07
The Bremner building at UCT's middle campus. (Paul Herman, News24

The Bremner building at UCT's middle campus. (Paul Herman, News24

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Cape Town - UCT students who were involved in an occupation of the university’s administrative building have vacated the premises, with one student saying the group wanted to avoid litigation processes after being served a court order.

On Friday, News24 reported that a group of between 50-70 University of Cape Town (UCT) students occupying the Bremner building on the university’s middle campus were served an eviction letter by university management following a three-week ‘sit-in’.

The students initially took the hostile action to occupy the building as part of the Rhodes Must Fall campaign on March 20, and opted to continue their stay over the weekend despite the Cecil John Rhodes statue having since been removed from the campus.

Way forward

UCT student Chumani Maxwele, who sparked a nationwide debate by throwing faeces on the statue on March 9, confirmed on Monday that the students vacated the premises on Sunday night.

“We’ll be hosting a press conference at UCT at 13:00 today outlining our reasons and the way forward for the movement,” he told News24.

Another student involved in the occupation movement, Mbali Matandela, told News24 that the decision to vacate the Bremner building was taken to avoid court proceedings.

“We wanted to avoid litigation processes,” Matendela said on Monday.

“We were served with a court order to vacate the premises, so we have found a new headquarters.

“But there are other forms of protest and it isn’t limited to just occupying the Bremner building. We will address that at our press conference.

“We want to continue to implore the university to engage with us on issues of transformation,” she added.

Notice to vacate

On Thursday, UCT’s management sent a letter to the protesting students ordering them to vacate the Bremner building by 14:00 the next day.

The university indicated it would approach the high court for an order compelling the students to leave the building if the instruction was ignored.

“The administration has, until now, not acted on the student/staff occupation of the Bremner building which began Friday, 20 March,” the letter read.

“We have not done so in order to allow the process of consultation and decision on the removal of the Rhodes statue to run its course.

“That has now happened and the statue has been removed from the campus. Any consent previously given, tacitly or otherwise is hereby withdrawn.”


In a statement written to UCT staff, students and alumni on Friday, Vice Chancellor Dr Max Price said that the occupation remained generally peaceful and dignified, despite the reports of "harassment" by some of the students on occasion.

Price said the university "tolerated" the occupation of the Bremner building in order to allow the decision-making process around the statue’s proposed removal to take its course.

“Our task has been to defend the idea of a university as a space of debate and not to allow the future of the statue to be determined prior to the conclusion of that discussion,” Price said.

“We believe that this deliberative process to engage UCT stakeholders on the issue of the Rhodes statue and on wider issues of transformation at UCT was successful.”

Read more on:    uct  |  cape town  |  cecil john rhodes  |  monuments debate  |  education

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