Security staff and students clash at CPUT

Four students suspended after disruptions

Photo of students and security

Students could not enter the Keizersgracht Street campus of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology on Thursday. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

By Zoe Postman

31 August 2017

Private security staff and a group of about 20 protesters clashed on Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s (CPUT) Cape Town campus on Thursday.

According to a statement released by Acting Vice-Chancellor, Dr Chris Nhlapo, the protests were about three issues: the removal of private security staff from campus, insourced workers leaving their posts when they had been instructed by management not to do so, and the suspension of four student leaders for their alleged involvement in disruptions on campus earlier that week.

At about 11am on Thursday, the main campus was heavily secured with private security guards at every entrance. Although the situation was calm, the guards were not allowing any students on campus. An hour later, the protesters came running towards the entrance of the campus, throwing rocks at the private security staff who retaliated by firing at the students using paintball guns. The protesting group managed to obtain one of the security guard’s shields. One security guard was injured and was later fetched by an ambulance.

The statement released by the university assured students that all campuses, apart from Roeland Street, remained open and a change in the situation would be communicated to students.  “The continued disruption of the academic programme and the blatant damage to university property can no longer be condoned,” the statement said.

A disruption on Monday resulted in an exam venue being set alight, after which four student leaders were issued with suspension letters. One of the suspended students is the SRC Chairperson, Ayakha Magxothwa. The statement said that the students had contravened the Code of Conduct of the university by their involvement in the disruptions.

Tebogo Mabitsela, a final year student in the Business Faculty, told Groundup that she was supposed to write an exam on campus at 2pm. She said the university had not adequately communicated with students regarding the climate on campus. “We wasted our time and money to come to campus and write our exam, only to be told by private security that we are not allowed on” she said. Mabitsela said she believed that the majority of CPUT students wanted to write their exams and only a handful of students were protesting.

Lauren Kansley, media liaison officer for CPUT, said the university was encouraging students to liaise with their lecturers about exams, tests and classes.

Magxotwa previously told GroundUp that the Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania (PASMA) had decided on a shut down to get management’s attention and deal with issues of student accommodation and insourced workers. He did not want to comment on the suspension of students and the temporary shutdown.