Protesters blockaded entrances to the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Upper Campus on Monday morning‚ a day after management had taken a decision that it “will be fully open”.
“UCT recognises the right to engage in protest that is within the law and adheres to the UCT code of conduct. We urge protesters to respect the rights of other members of the campus community to attend classes and arrive at work.”
This came after vice-chancellor Dr Max Price said on Sunday that the decision to reopen campus was made after a “mediation process that continued all weekend…concluded without resolution”.
“The executive and council have decided that while we continue to attempt to resolve the current conflict through continued dialogue‚ the minimum security should be used in order to protect the academic programme‚ recognising also our legal obligations to secure the safety of students‚ staff and property‚” Price explained.
“We have no wish to bring private security or the South African Police Service onto campus and have done everything humanly possible to avoid such a situation.
“But‚ our best attempts‚ including external‚ independent mediators‚ have been unsuccessful. As we cannot afford a longer closure at this time of the year‚ we must continue with the academic programme.”
While the official student representative council (SRC) said “it did not endorse this resolution”‚ Price blamed a “group of students…whom…characterise themselves as ‘SRC Candidates/#ShackvilleTRC’ and are occupying the Steve Biko Students’ Union Building” as being “the driving force behind the campaign to shut down UCT”.
“Their demands have been manifold‚ but the most urgent is the call for a truth and reconciliation commission (TRC) to address the Shackville protests in February this year and its aftermath in terms of interdicts and disciplinary processes.”
Price said the university was confident that talks had made progress and an agreement had been reached‚ but on Sunday‚ “the student group reported that they would not sign the agreement and that they wished the university to remain closed for another two weeks at least”.
The official SRC said that‚ while it has “a clear stance that academic project must continue”‚ it did “not support nor encourage the return of students to class” on Monday.