UCT: Statement on 'level three alert' incorrect

UCT protests. (Jenna Etheridge, News24, file)
UCT protests. (Jenna Etheridge, News24, file)

Cape Town - An alert saying that the police’s public order unit was deployed at University of Cape Town to manage various protests was incorrect, the institution announced on Monday evening.

The university initially said it and several other institutions were declared a “level-three security situation” by acting national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane. This, in effect, meant the public order unit was in command of the situation.

"Vice-Chancellors remain fully in control of the campuses and work with the SAPS to manage any situation where the SAPS may be needed," it said in a correction statement.

In Monday morning's statement it said: “We face a level of protest this morning which we are not able to contain with private security officers alone.”

It said protesters disrupted activities on its middle and upper campuses.

“Unlawful acts, such as breaking windows, forcing open locked doors and throwing human sewage, have been reported.

“There are further reports of intimidation, damage to property, violence, disruption and confrontation with security officers and we need the support of SAPS’s Public Order Policing to manage the situation.”

Protests

READ: Wits classes continue, despite earlier chaos

UCT vice-chancellor Max Price announced on Sunday that they would lose the academic year if activities were disrupted when it opened on Monday.

"Our situation is this: If classes start on Monday, 17 October 2016, we can still save the teaching term and write the exams between 7 and 25 November," he said in a statement.

"If we do not return on Monday, the academic term is lost and the consequences are absolutely dire. In other words, we are out of time."

The curriculum would be delivered using alternative and mixed teaching modes.

The university said protests began early on Monday morning, when a group blocked the Jammie Shuttle stop outside the Leo Marquard residence.

Shuttle services had to be suspended. A radio was reportedly taken from a security guard.

“The dean of law ordered the Kramer Law building evacuated after a group of about 100 protesters broke a window, forced a door open, invaded the building and threw human sewage in the corridors,” the institution said.

Protesters briefly demonstrated inside the School of Economics building.

Police used a stun grenade to disperse protesters outside the RW James building after they clashed with security officers.

UCT appealed to staff and students not interfere with police and to not contribute to confrontations or conflict.

“We urge students and staff members to remain calm and to move away from any areas where protest activity may put you at risk. UCT remains committed to attempting to manage the situation so that the academic year can be completed successfully.”

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