CPUT spends R30m on private security in 3 months

2017-10-26 19:27
CPUT acting vice chancellor Dr Chris Nhlapo at a press briefing on Thursday. (James de Villiers, News24)

CPUT acting vice chancellor Dr Chris Nhlapo at a press briefing on Thursday. (James de Villiers, News24)

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Cape Town – The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) has spent roughly R30m on private security since July, its acting vice-chancellor said on Thursday.

However, the amount was a mere fraction of the up to R60m damages caused to the campus in the 2015/16 financial year, acting vice-chancellor Dr Chris Nhlapo said.

The precise amount for 2016/17 damages has not yet been calculated.

Speaking to journalists at a press briefing about the state of the university, Nhlapo said the university was a custodian of public facilities which "must be protected at all times".

He said private security was necessary because some of the university's own security personnel showed "partial allegiance to protesters".

"I am even, you know, reluctant to say there's militarisation. It's not militarisation. I prefer something called 'securitisation'.

A measure of safety

"The majority of staff and students take comfort in the level of security afforded because it provides them a measure of safety as they come to and from work as well as classes every day."

Academic activity at CPUT has been continually disrupted since July when students raised concerns over accommodation.

Since then students’ protest action continued to address issues, ranging from the outsourcing of service personnel, financial exclusion and, recently, the possible expulsion of four students.

On Wednesday, private security used stun grenades to disperse protesters who attempted to storm the Bellville library.

An office at the old education building was partially damaged when it was set alight early on Thursday morning.

Over 30 CPUT students have been arrested for arson or possession of explosives in three months.

'Meaningful engagement'

Nhlapo said it is "nearly impossible" to engage in a meaningful way with protestors.

He said the protesting students, estimated to be a group of roughly 200 spread out over CPUT's five campuses, were largely not a part of "legitimate student structures".

"As a result, [they] do not understand or refuse to understand university protocol and procedures and also have not been privy to official institutional forums and committees where many of their alleged grievances are discussed and resolved."

Despite continued disruptions to academic activity, CPUT is on track to complete the academic year by December, Nhlapo said.

He said certain faculties requested that examinations be postponed by a week.

Examinations are set to start next week.

Nhlapo was appointed in September after the resignation of Dr Prins Nevhutalu.

A way forward

A couple of meters from where he held his press briefing at the Bellville campus, roughly 100 staff and students gathered in the student centre to discuss "a way forward."

The meeting was continually disrupted by CPUT central SRC secretary Mbaliezwe Madikizela, who wanted "to combat the lies" protesters were alleged to have spread.

Speaking to News24, Madikizela said she was "frustrated" by a small group of students "who are adamant to mislead students."

Claims of financial exclusion and inability to register due to historic debt were some of the lies spread, Madikizela said.

"It is not only here at CPUT, it is also at UCT. They are just trying to destabilise anything that has to do with the ANC or the institutions. They want to bring a new revolution."

"They believe you have to burn everything down and start again."

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