Cape Town - In scenes more reminiscent of a military quarantine than an examination venue, UCT's sports fields featured massive marquee tents ringed in by crowd-control permeter fencing ahead of examinations set to start on Wednesday.
Scores of security personnel in riot gear, some accompanied by guard dogs like Rottweilers and German Shepherds, maintained a heavy presence at the campus on Monday, even as a group of angry students traversed the narrow corridor between the fences leading towards the subway under the M3 leading to the institution's Middle Campus.
Access to the campus is being strictly controlled, especially in the light of weeks of violent protests.
Vice-chancellor Max Price said the measures were put in place to ensure exams were conducted in a “safe, quiet and calm atmosphere”.
“We have taken this unusual step as a measure of our firm commitment to the huge majority of students who want to write their exams and see the academic year through to its end. A small number of protesters remain determined to see the university shut down, and have disrupted tests and exams over recent weeks in their attempts to do so. We will do our level best to prevent such incidents from recurring,” Price said.
Price said presence of security within the exam perimeter was reduced to minimum, and Campus Protection Services officers would be present inside the examination tents.
“This is to enable the interception of any protesters who are students, and therefore may be entitled to be in the exam venue, from attempting to disrupt any exams. In terms of the current interdict, any protesters attempting to disrupt exams will be handed over to the South African Police Service for arrest,” he said.
SRC President Karabo Khakhau said expecting students to write exams in the presence of police dogs was entirely unacceptable.
“Some students have phobias for dogs, the environment is not conducive they need to introspect and talk to us to find solutions that will make satisfy everyone. We will meet (on Tuesday) to discuss what they call a militant environment on campus.”
Seven students who were arrested for damaging university property, were released on R500 bail each on Monday.