UWC suspends face-to-face lectures after campus chaos

Cape Town - The University of Western Cape (UWC) student protesters say the institution is responsible for the anarchy that erupted on the campus on Wednesday.

Late on Wednesday the university confirmed all face-to-face classes were suspended due to the uncertainty around the stability and safety on their campus.

Protesting students at UWC burnt down a refuse room and damaged some residents while clashing with police. Photo: Phando Jikelo. Credit: CAPE TIMES

This decision follows after student protesters gave the institution 48 hours to respond to their demands on Monday, the university communicated their response via an e-mail on Wednesday.

In the statement the institutions stated they would not attend the mass meeting, and the students’ demands had financial implications the university which required third party interventions.

Students were outraged by this and the situation soon escalated.

A student activist blamed any ensuing violence on the university militarising its own campus.

“We don't know what to do now but would (sic) mobilise ourselves, the university’s disregarded for us shows their true intentions. They blatantly did not meet us and rather sent police to intimidate us,” she said.

She said police opened fire on them and student scattered to find cover and some were injured during the assault.

During the clashes, students climbed onto the roof of the residents and pelted the police with projectiles, including fire extinguishers.

Windows were broken and furniture from one of the residences set alight. The building which houses the refuse bins was also set alight.

Police spokesperson Sally De Beer said Public Order Police were called in after students began setting bins on fire.

"They are best to deal with these situations as they are trained in crowd management. These officers are trained to exhibit the minimum amount of force considering the violence displayed against them during protests," said De Beer.

She said seven students were arrested fro public violence.

The university issued a statement saying the situation on campus escalated and it had become clear continuing with face-to-face academic engagement would not be possible without seriously compromising the safety of students and staff.

“After serious consideration of the national situation, and the uncertainty around the stability and safety on our campus, we have convened an urgent Special Meeting of the Senate Executive Committee to consider the way forward that will allow us to complete the 2016 academic year.”

The decision's was made to cancel classes, including students given a choice of write their main examinations either in November 2016 or in January 2017.

The university recognised that situation is not ideal, was the only option to complete the academic year.