UWC security staff assaulted, room torched amid tension over residence eviction allegations

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  • Several University of the Western Cape security staff have been assaulted, allegedly by students who resisted relocating.
  • Students accused the university of evicting them from residences.
  • But the university aid the students were being relocated to holiday accommodation so that deep cleaning could take place.

Several security officials were assaulted at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) as tensions increased over what students called mass evictions from campus residences.

Earlier this week, disgruntled students lashed out at university management and claimed that they were forcefully evicted from campus residences. They alleged that evictions began on Friday and carried on into the weekend.

But UWC said students were being relocated to alternative accommodation for the holiday period so that deep cleaning could take place and the university could implement an interim Covid-19 vaccination policy. In terms of the policy, only vaccinated staff and students will be able to return to campus in 2022.

READ | 'We were treated like filthy dogs' - UWC students after claims of forced residence evictions

"Students have been relocated to alternative accommodation. We confirm that placing vacation occupiers in alternative university-sanctioned accommodation does not amount to an eviction. No student or vacation accommodation occupant is entitled to permanently reside in a particular room or residence," the university said in a statement.

"The alternative accommodation provides a good quality living environment that is close to amenities. We invite the media and all stakeholders to view the conditions at the alternative accommodation."

However, the conflict escalated, and several UWC staff members were assaulted on Wednesday. A room at a residence was also set alight.

"Several security workers were assaulted [on Wednesday] at an off-campus postgraduate residence where just over 10 students were resistant to being relocated. Hot water was also thrown at security staff. Their injuries were tended to by medical staff," the university added.

"We note that vacation occupants resisting the relocation called the South African Police Service (SAPS) who after assessing the situation, assisted the UWC security staff who were being prevented from carrying out their duties," the statement read.

UWC said it was "extremely disappointed" that some students had seen it "fit to burn a room at this residence".

"The fire was extinguished and no student or staff member was injured in the fire," the statement read.

News24 previously reported that students who usually spent the holidays on campus were informed that they would need to leave to allow maintenance to take place.

The situation on the university's campuses is currently calm, UWC said.

"However, it is important to note that should there be continued non-compliance, internal disciplinary processes will have to be instituted against these students through the proctor's office," the statement said.

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