The University of Cape Town was able to house evacuated students in hotels across the city on Sunday night. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
The University of Cape Town was able to house evacuated students in hotels across the city on Sunday night. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

UCT students housed in hotels across Cape Town after Rhodes Memorial fire

By Theolin Tembo, Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Apr 19, 2021

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Cape Town: The University of Cape Town was able to house evacuated students in hotels across the city after a fire broke out on campus on Sunday night.

A fire alarm cued students to evacuate some of their residences at the university.

UCT said all students had been evacuated from campus by emergency services support staff. They were taken to predetermined locations.

Late on Sunday evening, UCT SRC chairperson Declan Dyer said that after the evacuation, they proceeded to a rendezvous point at Mowbray Bus Terminus.

The SRC, the residence council and other student structures organised the transport away from the Rondebosch area.

“Students were transported to our campuses in town, namely the UCT Graduate School of Business as well as the Hiddingh campus, and a couple of other suitable sites.”

The university said it was arranging emergency accommodation for students evacuated from residences, which turned out to be at hotels across the city.

Dyer said: “The process is ongoing to place these students into hotels around Cape Town. At least nine hotels at have been sourced by the university, and students have been moved there from the different drop-off points.”

On Monday morning, UCT Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said: “Thanks to the UCT leadership team for the swift action yesterday. We managed to accommodate all evacuated students in hotels around Cape Town.

“To everyone who offered help, we are grateful. Today we’ll start assessing the extent of the damage. UCT will recover! UCT will rise.”

URGENT MESSAGE: The President and other hotels around Cape Town have donated available rooms to help those displaced by...

Posted by President Hotel, Cape Town onSunday, 18 April 2021

When someone asked why are hotels “safer” than using staff members’ spare rooms, Phakeng said: “Finding accommodation for 4000 scared students in a matter of a few hours was not easy at all.

“So glad that the DSA (Department of Student Affairs) team got it done so quickly. Our insurers will cover a lot of it. Thanks for your willingness to assist.”

Academic activities were suspended for today and Tuesday, in light of the fire affecting the Rondebosch campus.

“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,” Phakeng 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.”

UCT called for donations to the emergency relief fund that has been set up. The details are:

Account name: UCT Donations Account

Bank: Standard Bank of South Africa

Branch code: Rondebosch Branch, 025009

Account number: 07 152 2387

Swift code: SBZAZAJJ

Food and emergency accommodation have been arranged for all the evacuated students.

At 1.05am on Monday, Gift of the Givers operations manager Ali Sablay said that they were at the Southern Sun Hotel in the Waterfront, where the last of the UCT students had been placed.

Sablay said were assisting the hotel management in distributing more than 500 meals at the time.

Phakeng previously said that food for students would be prepared at Old Mutual’s offices in Pinelands, Cape Town, and from there distributed to the locations where students were being accommodated.

Members of the public who would like to donate essential items and food can do so at at Old Mutual West Campus, 91 Jan Smuts Road, Pinelands, Cape Town.

The site opened at 6am today.

Cape Argus

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