Buses torched, admin block stoned as CPUT students protest over accommodation

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Students erected shacks on the Bellville campus of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology to protest against a shortage of accommodation. (Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp)
Students erected shacks on the Bellville campus of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology to protest against a shortage of accommodation. (Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp)

Two bus shuttles were torched and the administrative building was stoned during overnight protests at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) on Tuesday evening.

In a statement, CPUT management confirmed the incidents. "The positive start to the 2019 academic programme has been dealt a blow after the institution was the victim of an arson attack overnight," the statement read.

"Today (Wednesday), CPUT staff woke up to the news that two bus shuttles were torched and that the administrative building on the Bellville campus had been stoned.

"This is demoralising for the dedicated staff who have already persevered through a traumatising crisis period since 2015."

This comes as students protest over the lack of accommodation at the institution, with some building shacks to highlight the problem.

READ: Students build shacks to protest against accommodation shortage

CPUT spokesperson Lauren Kansley said vice-chancellor Dr Chris Nhlapo had established a task team to look specifically at student housing.

Police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk said they were investigating a case of malicious damage to property. No arrests have been made yet.

"Currently, the situation is under control, the protesters have since dispersed and police officers are still deployed in the area to maintain law and order," said Van Wyk.

GroundUp reported that classes were disrupted across the university's four campuses due to protests.

GroundUp also quoted the institution's dean of student affairs Prem Coopoo as saying that the university could only accommodate one-third of the 35 000 students at CPUT.

Classes 'continuing as normal'

"Like other higher education institutions, we are not able to accommodate every single student who studies at CPUT."

Kansley said on Wednesday classes were continuing as normal.

"CPUT is operational across our campuses, excluding our Athlone campus, which is a satellite campus. Teaching will only resume there on February 18."

On Tuesday, 21 people believed to be CPUT students were arrested in connection with public violence at the Athlone campus.

According to GroundUp, there have been ongoing protests for the last week. Students' demands include running water in residence blocks where there is none, more security, and transport.

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