UCT vice-chancellor visits Gift of the Givers to thank them for their help
Cape Town - The University of Cape Town (UCT) vice-chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, visited the Gift of the Givers (GOTG) co-ordination centre at Old Mutual, West Campus building in Pinelands, on Wednesday.
The Table Mountain blaze affected approximately six UCT campus buildings resulting in the emergency evacuation of around 4 000 students.
Several hotel groups provided temporary accommodation to the affected students.
Phakeng said in the absence of unforeseen issues, all students should be back on campus on Thursday, with the academic programme resuming on Monday.
“Once we have cleaned the residences approved in terms of occupational health and safety, the task team will provide and coordinate transport back to university residences for all students in emergency accommodation.
“We will make alternative arrangements for those residences deemed unsafe due to fire damage.”
Some students had been treated for smoke inhalation.
While addressing volunteers, Phakeng thanked all who had come on board to assist. “As a university, we feel that we are in good company, we are in a caring company. That challenges us to be more socially responsive and for us to care even more about the communities that are around us.
“Thank you very much to everyone for your leadership and showing what kindness looks like in real life.”
Video: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency
UCT representative Zameer Brey said an estimated 600 volunteers, working in shifts, had been assisting at the centre. Piles of groceries and hygiene products were packed in a coordinated flow, by volunteers, many of whom students from various schools and universities.
GOTG provided the UCT students with three daily meals, since their evacuation on Sunday.
Brey said: “My estimates are that the team has been able to deliver 12 000 to 13 000 meals so far and probably between 10 and 15 tonnes of goods have come through.”
GOTG director Badr Kazi said: “What we constantly see more than facts and figures, we see common humanity. And if nothing else, this occasion has just highlighted that particular nature of South Africans. ”
With efforts to contain the fire that started on the slopes of Devil’s Peak, largely successful, work is being done to determine the cause of the fire.
Meeting on Wednesday morning, the City’s Fire and Rescue Services said it would be supporting the South African National Parks (SANParks) in concluding its investigation into the fire.
SANParks has appointed an independent forensic investigator to determine the cause. SANParks CEO Fundisile Mketeni said a joint briefing will be held once an investigative report is concluded in two weeks.
Mayco member for Safety and Security JP Smith said: “It is important to establish the cause of the fire, and to identify any other factors that may have played a role. The City will work closely with SANParks as well as the SAPS in this regard.
“As with any big incident of this nature, there are many questions, and a lot of speculation, and we ask the public to allow the investigation to run its course.”
The City’s Disaster Risk Management Centre (DRMC) said repairs to roadways and other City infrastructure are under way.
DRMC spokesperson Charlotte Powell said Solid Waste Management is clearing debris. At the Molteno Reservoir, the Environmental Health Service is conducting water sampling to ensure that water quality is not affected by ash. No major damage has occurred to the medium voltage infrastructure, except at overhead lines at affected buildings.
Residents who evacuated were given the go-ahead to return to their homes on Monday night.