‘CPUT being held to ransom’
ACTING vice-chancellor of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology Chris Nhlapo has painted a picture of an institution held to ransom by a group of students in cahoots with “ïnsourced” workers at its Cape Town campus.
Briefing the higher education and training portfolio committee this week, Nhlapo said the university would not allow itself to fall under the grip of the “small group” of students who were aided by others in solidarity with their disruptive actions.
He told of how the students and the workers had formed an alliance since last year during the #FeeMustFall campaign.
The university hired about 900 workers who had previously worked as security guards, cleaners and gardeners last year.
“In retrospect, what went wrong is that during this insourcing, there was an alliance formed between students and insourced workers. Unfortunately, the insourced workers are, of course, in cahoots with students and some of them are securities,” Nhlapo said.
“When students have issues, they are joined by the insourced workers. We are left vulnerable in terms of security. As we speak we don’t have security; we have to rely on private security,” he added.
Nhlapo charged that the affected workers always engaged the university via the students who have become their “spokesmen”.
“We tried to say labour matters are labour matters; student matters are student matters,” Nhlapo said.
Among the affected students were those who had been actively involved in arson, actively used fire extinguishers against staff and who physically abused staff and some students.
“We have taken action against them to suspend and then charge them. What we have is that they want charges to be dropped and as the management we said ‘we will stick to our guns’,” he said, adding that this was at the centre of the protests.
Nhlapo said the students had approached management on issues of student accommodation.
“The students who came to me ended up disrupting the executive council. They came with a service provider for us to lease a particular residence.”
He claimed the varsity rejected their request because procurement processes needed to be followed.
Nhlapo said the events at CPUT took place against the background of the institution being one of the emerging and the best university technikons.
“We see that it is sliding very fast before our eyes. We say there is no way we are to allow rot or anarchy at the institution,” he said.
“The students have to undergo a disciplinary process like any other, íncluding staff who abandoned their posts. It’s an unprotected strike.”
Nhlapo decried that CPUT was the tertiary institution in the Western Cape that was causing instability.
“We will bring normality within CPUT.”
He claimed that among the “disruptive” students was one who committed a serious misdemeanor at another institution in the province.
“Through default, through scrupulous means he found his way at CPUT. That person has not passed a single course and these are the types of students we talk about.”
Nhlapo also alleged some of the students were entrepreneurs who enter into business with the university instead of studying. “I said I wanted them to be removed from the vendors’ list because it is against policy. Once you start to remove bread, you start to have a backlash.”
He also told of how their reputations had been tarnished, even in newspapers, with personal attacks launched against the many wild claims made about their qualifications.
“We want to reclaim the soul of CPUT; it is too precious an institution. We can’t allow it to deteriorate because of a handful of people,” Nhlapo said.
‘We want to