UCT calls for donations as upper campus buildings go up in flames
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Cape Town - The University of Cape Town has announced that it has put emergency measures in place after the Rhodes Memorial fire reached the university and caused extensive damage to campus property.
The fire which started around 8.45am close to Hospital Bend, moved up towards Rhodes Memorial and then towards the UCT upper campus. Two firefighters were injured while trying to contain the blaze and taken to hospital.
UCT announced later on Sunday that it was arranging emergency accommodation for students evacuated from residences.
Besides the university, some Cape residents on social media have invited students into their homes for the time being.
UCT added that it is able to provide food for the students thanks to all the donors who have come forward to supply food and other essential items. It said it was grateful for “everyone who has come forward so generously to provide support and assistance” to the students.
“Approximately 4 000 meals were prepared for distribution on Sunday evening and further meals will be prepared at Old Mutual’s offices in Pinelands, Cape Town, and from there these will be distributed to the locations where our students are accommodated.
“The necessary arrangements have also been made to cater for our Muslim students,” said UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola.
“The public is asked to donate any essential items and food which they may wish to contribute at Old Mutual West Campus, 91 Jan Smuts Road, Pinelands, Cape Town.”
The site is open until 11pm on Sunday and will reopen at 6am on Monday. The 4 000 meals are being provided by Gift of the Givers.
“UCT has requested Gift of the Givers to manage the feeding and other essentials for the next week whilst accommodation through various hotel groups is urgently sourced. Gift of the Givers will provide three meals a day,” it said in a statement.
An emergency relief fund has also been set up, and the university has called on all those who are able to donate to:
- Account name: UCT Donations Account Bank: Standard Bank of South Africa. Branch code: Rondebosch Branch, 025009. Account number: 07 152 2387. Swift code: SBZAZAJJ
- Donors should please include their name if they wish to, as well as the purpose/reference for their donation (#UCTFire).
Moholola added that they are concerned about the impact this has had on students and staff who had to be evacuated, and said that counselling services were available at:
- SA Depression and Anxiety Group: 080 024 2526
- ICAS: 080 111 3945
Part of the UCT library, residences and upper campus buildings were also damaged by the fire. The university, however, said at this stage it is unable to “confirm the extent of the damage to property, as well as the number or names of buildings affected”.
UCT Libraries stated that, due to the fire disaster, they will be closed until further notice.
All academic activities for Monday and Tuesday have also been suspended.
UCT Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said: “In light of the fire affecting the Rondebosch campus, and the impact this is having on the university’s buildings as well as the evacuation of residences, all academic activities will be suspended tomorrow and on Tuesday.
“No classes, tutorials, laboratory work or tests will take place on Monday, 19 April or Tuesday, 20 April. We will assess the situation and provide further updates before midday on Tuesday,” she said.
“The safety of students and staff is paramount. For safety reasons, campus will be locked down and no one, other than emergency services, will be allowed access. We are all anxious about the extent of the damage to the Rondebosch campus. We will provide updates as soon as we are able to do so.”
Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell earlier said the City of Cape Town was working with the university in co-ordinating alternate accommodation for affected students.
Bredell said provincial disaster management was continuing to monitor the ongoing fire.
“The public is urged to avoid the area and allow the authorities to do their work. The City has not called on any residents to evacuate. The public will be alerted immediately should the situation change and any evacuation be needed.”