More than 200 UCT students gather in front of the Saartjie Bartman hall to have a vigil also paying tribute to the late Uyinene Mrwetyana. Picture: Phando/Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Cape Town - Academic activities have been suspended at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the University of Pretoria (UP) for the remaining week.

UCT spokersperson Nombuso Shabalala said the suspension is aimed to give the campus community time for reflection and healing. "The UCT executive have made a decision that no academic classes or tests will take place on Thursday and Friday. Exceptions will be made for activities that cannot be cancelled." 

Shabalala said it has been an emotional day for the UCT community and for wider South African society, "with several protest events rising up against sexual and gender-based violence in this country".

She said since the beginning of the week, staff and students have been gathering in separate vigils, prayer circles and small groups to remember Uyinene ‘Nene’ Mrwetyana.

"A mass picket to Parliament this morning swelled to over 3 000 people when members of the public joined staff and students in solidarity against sexual and gender-based violence".

"At the memorial service held on the plaza and steps in front of Sarah Baartman Hall, staff and students drew together again to mourn Nene’s loss," she said.

Meanwhile, UP said suspension was due to the violence and disruptions taking place across the country.

UP said in solidarity with those affected by the recent violence, as well as in the interest of the safety and security of staff and students, "we have decided to postpone tests scheduled for this week".

"It is unfortunate that circumstances beyond their control have affected the normal functioning of our academic programme."

The university said they condemns all forms of violence and in particular gender based violence and attacks on foreign nationals.

Shabalala said these will be communicated by the relevant faculty.

"Students experiencing any distress are encouraged to utilise the SADAG UCT Student Careline (0800 24 25 26), which is free from a Telkom line, or to SMS 31393 for a callback. This line offers 24/7 telephonic counselling, advice, referral facilities and general mental health support."

Cape Argus