In a second day of protests, more than 200 demonstrators gathered in the parking area outside the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) Cape Town campus on Tuesday morning.
The protests are over the university management’s handling of employee contracts and the suspension of four student leaders. The protest coincided with a meeting between staff unions at CPUT and the university’s management at the Bellville campus to discuss union demands.
Workers standing outside the campus told GroundUp that staff were allowed to enter, but that the increased security in the area made them question their safety.
CPUT spokesperson Lauren Kansley told GroundUp that the campus was “not fully operational”, but had not closed down either. She confirmed that the university had hired two private security companies to deal with any disruptions.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Staak addressed the protesters and asked them to make a list of demands. “We’d like to get on with this crisis and continue the operations of the University, but we have to do it in a responsible manner.”
Protesters shouted their demands to Staak. Several people said they wanted academic activities suspended until their demands were met. They also wanted suspended student leaders to be present at negotiations with CPUT management, and private security guards to be removed. They demanded to speak to the acting vice-chancellor Dr Chris Nhlapo.
Kansley said that advocate Lionel Harper from the Dean of Students Office had also met protesters at the Athlone campus following previous engagements with them. He had promised to give them feedback on some of the issues they raised, Kansley said.
Some protesters threatened GroundUp’s reporter. One protester said that people who were not students should leave for their own safety.
My heart goes out to the tens of thousands of students at CPUT and Rhodes who are trying to better themselves and their families by furthering their education.
Sadly, very small groups of "students", together with outside criminal elements, appear to be hell-bent on destroying what remains of this country's higher education infrastructure.
Even more sadly, some university managements ( notably, UCT ) have, and are, taking the path of "engaging" with the thuggish mobs, and some ( again, notably, UCT ) have coddled and elevated these criminals to positions that cement their positions as credible and respectable negotiating partners.
Unless, and until, university managements accept the fact the there DOES exist a difference between peaceful and protected protest action, and simple criminality, the corrosion that began in 2015, and appears to be continuing, will inevitably destroy what's left of South African universities.
I wish to condemn the violence that arises from the police, securities and students in relation to the situation within the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT).
Nonetheless, I have to look into this matter from all sides of the story.
It appears that the CPUT Management cares too little about the well-being of the students, workers and other stakeholders involved, simply because while violence continues to intensify the Acting Vice-Chancellor Dr Chris Nhlapho continued to allow classes to happen knowing well that those caught in between those classes and action stand to be victimized.
That's really not sensisble. Doesn't Nhlapho realize that the continuation of classes during such time spikes violence and the situation becomes uncontrollable.
I have personally read the affidavit and court interdict from the high court, and to my understanding is it is based on speculations and hearsay, I don't really find it worthy to even used in court, and even worse to suspend the students and derail the university from the agreement reached during meetings between SRC, Workers and Management.
The institution is always on about the lies that it does not have money due to FeesMustFall protests that damaged the institution. To our surprise it continued to hire a second security company. The students are fed up and they are prepared to take this to the next level. The question now is, what is the management doing to prevent this kind of action from leading to FeesMustFall?
Dr Chris Nhlapho is an absent leader, and only vocal on the statements made by CPUT.
Until the students gets what they want, they have vowed to make the institution ungovernable and I so hope that the institution, DHET and Presidency of South Africa gets involved to resolve this situation.
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