Re­fur­bished build­ing set alight amid UWC chaos

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

CAPE TOWN — An­other build­ing has been set alight at the Univer­sity of the Western Cape, as chaos broke out on cam­pus early yes­ter­day morn­ing.

Stu­dents awoke to the sound of stun grenades af­ter the Ed­u­ca­tion and Res­i­den­tial Ser­vices Of­fice was set alight.

UWC spokesper­son Luthando Ty­hal­i­bongo said the build­ing had re­cently been re­fur­bished af­ter be­ing dam­aged in an ar­son at­tack dur­ing protests in 2015.

Pub­lic or­der po­lice kept an eye on shut­tles trans­port­ing stu­dents to ex­ter­nal exam venues af­ter in­tim­i­da­tion was re­ported on Mon­day, when ex­ams started.

On Mon­day, clashes broke out be­tween po­lice, cam­pus se­cu­rity and stu­dents. A cam­pus ve­hi­cle was over­turned and graf­fiti sprayed on build­ings. Protesters faced off with po­lice at the stu­dent res­i­dences, throw­ing rocks at au­thor­i­ties.

A num­ber of win­dows were bro­ken. Bot­tles and rocks lay scat­tered in the vicin­ity, and mes­sages in red and black were scrawled across the walls.

Se­cu­rity per­son­nel warned all those en­ter­ing the cam­pus that they did so at their own risk. In Septem­ber, when a fresh wave of univer­sity protests started, UWC stu­dents sub­mit­ted a mem­o­ran­dum de­tail­ing their de­mands.

Top of the list was free, qual­ity, black-cen­tred ed­u­ca­tion. They wanted all stu­dent debts to be cleared, and reg­is­tra­tion and ap­pli­ca­tion fees scrapped.

Other con­cerns re­lated to safety and the af­ford­abil­ity of ac­com­mo­da­tion, study ma­te­ri­als, and clin­ics.

Stu­dents also de­manded free san­i­tary pads and 10GB of free data per month for those liv­ing off cam­pus. Wi-Fi and in­ter­net ac­cess are al­ready free on cam­pus. A strong po­lice and se­cu­rity con­tin­gent is cur­rently on cam­pus. Mean­while, UWC stu­dents were trans­ported off the cam­pus to ex­ter­nal venues un­der po­lice guard af­ter protesters tried to pre­vent ex­am­i­na­tions from go­ing ahead on Mon­day.

Po­lice and se­cu­rity were at the cam­pus af­ter fewer than 100 protest­ing stu­dents at­tempted to de­rail the ex­ams un­til de­mands they had pre­vi­ously made were met.

A stu­dent leader told News24 that they did not want the ex­ams to go ahead if their is­sues were not re­solved. He warned that those writ­ing the ex­ams would be “dealt with”. A law stu­dent, who sought al­ter­na­tive trans­port fol­low­ing the morn­ing dis­rup­tions, said he un­der­stood the rea­sons for the protest, but still wanted to fin­ish his fi­nal ex­ams and “end this hec­tic year”.

Ex­ams were writ­ten at four off-cam­pus venues in Bel­lville and Bel­lville South on Mon­day. — Sapa

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