Design studio set alight at CPUT during protests

2017-10-27 21:25

Cape Town - A design studio was set alight at Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s (CPUT) Cape Town campus on Friday as sporadic protests continued at the institution, spokesperson Lauren Kansley said.

The fire brigade responded quickly and extinguished the fire as well as another small blaze in another part of the campus.

"Luckily, they [students] managed to move most of the things out and their work had already been marked," said Kansley.

She said a small group of protesters also tried to disrupt operations at CPUT’s Mowbray campus.

"At the same time, we have reports from [the Cape Town] campus that at least three protesters used pepper spray in buildings to force an evacuation. Once again, this is an attempt by a handful to disrupt the wider operations of the institution," she said.

On the CPUT Facebook page, students were informed that a section of the engineering building was "maliciously targeted by arsonists".

'Criminal elements' 

"Some heads of department at [the] Cape Town campus opted to send staff home and the areas affected by the arson attacks will now need to be deep cleaned and assessed for insurance purposes," the message read.

"This is once again an attempt by a handful of criminal elements to disrupt the operations of the institution."

Kansley said two people were arrested. She did not have further details. Police confirmation was also not immediately available.

On Thursday, acting vice-chancellor Dr Chris Nhlapho said the university had spent around R30m on private security since July.

He expressed frustration over seemingly new demands arising as soon as old problems were resolved, the latest being the "militarisation" of the campuses.

"The issue of militarisation puzzles me most. The most critical point on which the entire issue of private security rests is that CPUT is obliged by law to provide a safe working environment for staff and students.

"Our own campus protection services have been compromised with partial allegiance to protesters and ultimately, they do not have the capacity to deal with the current situation."

He said most staff and students were comforted by the level of security at the public institution.

He vowed that work would continue and exams would be completed.

Read more on:    cput  |  cape town  |  protests

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