Dam­age to var­si­ties will cost mil­lions

Ar­son­ists petrol bomb UCT truck

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - SIYABONGA SESANT

AT LEAST two West­ern Cape uni­ver­si­ties face bills of mil­lions of rands to re­pair prop­erty and in­fra­struc­ture se­verely dam­aged af­ter an­other round of stu­dent protests.

In the most re­cent in­ci­dent, ar­son­ists struck at UCT in the early hours of yes­ter­day morn­ing, ap­par­ently petrol-bomb­ing a truck used by stu­dents and re­searchers about 3am.

The dou­ble-cab ve­hi­cle was parked ad­ja­cent to the in­sti­tu­tion’s ge­o­log­i­cal sciences build­ing and, although no one was in­jured, UCT spokesman Eli­jah Mo­holola said the en­tire ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem of the build­ing may have to be re­placed.

Fumes and smoke had en­tered the vents of the spe­cialised air fil­tra­tion sys­tem and re­pairs were ex­pected to run to mil­lions of rands.

Mean­while, the Cape Penin­sula Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy (CPUT) also said it ex­pected losses to run into “many mul­ti­mil­lions con­sid­er­ing the ex­ten­sive dam­age” done at two CPUT cam­puses this week.

The univer­sity’s Short Cour­ses Cen­tre at the Cape Town cam­pus went up in flames early on Wed­nes­day, while its con­trol cen­tre at the Bel­lville cam­pus was also tar­geted and re­mains badly dam­aged. Ar­son at­tempts at Stel­len­bosch Univer­sity were not suc­cess­ful. Univer­sity spokesman Martin Viljoen said a small group of protest­ing stu­dents tried un­suc­cess­fully to set two ve­hi­cles alight on Thurs­day night.

Viljoen said yes­ter­day the sit­u­a­tion had been calm.

Univer­sity of the West­ern Cape (UWC) spokesman Luthando Ty­hal­i­bongo said that cam­pus had been quiet, with no in­ci­dents re­ported yes- ter­day.

He said classes at the univer­sity would “hope­fully” re­sume on Tues­day, as the in­sti­tu­tion was ded­i­cat­ing Mon­day to “a day of di­a­logue”.

He said sev­eral meet­ings be­tween stu­dents, staff and the gen­eral stu­dent body would be held. “The com­ple­tion of the aca­demic pro- gramme re­mains our main pri­or­ity, hence we would like these con­ver­sa­tions to, amongst other things, help us find sus­tain­able so­lu­tions to com­plete the aca­demic pro­gramme with­out com­pro­mis­ing the cred­i­bil­ity of qual­i­fi­ca­tions,” Ty­hal­i­bongo said.

CPUT spokes­woman Lau­ren Kans­ley said they had al­ready made al­ter­na­tive ar­range­ments for off-site as­sess­ments at the Wing­field Mil­i­tary Base, “like we did in 2015”.

“Our teams have been work­ing flat out to get the lo­gis­tics in place for this to hap­pen from Mon­day on­wards,” Kans­ley added.

Stel­len­bosch Univer­sity re­ported that classes and tests would pro­ceed “un­in­ter­rupted” on Mon­day.

“A vis­i­ble se­cu­rity pres­ence re­mains on cam­pus,” the univer­sity’s Viljoen said.

Viljoen also urged stu­dents to dis­re­gard an al­leged threat­en­ing voice note which had been dis­trib­uted via so­cial me­dia.

“All stu­dents re­ceived an SMS mes­sage from SU in­di­cat­ing that the threat­en­ing voice note could not be val­i­dated and that classes would con­tinue,” he said.

Mean­while, UCT said it would make an an­nounce­ment re­gard­ing com­ple­tion of the 2016 aca­demic pro­gramme this week­end.


‘The ven­ti­la­tion

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