‘CPUT be­ing held to ran­som’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - MAYIBONGWE MAQHINA

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

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