EFF student members during a visit to a multitude of residences at CPUT and UCT that were directly or indirectly affected by the Table Mountain fires. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)
EFF student members during a visit to a multitude of residences at CPUT and UCT that were directly or indirectly affected by the Table Mountain fires. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

EFF opens case against CPUT over alleged negligence in handling fire threat

By Odwa Mkentane Time of article published Apr 23, 2021

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Cape Town – The EFF Student Command at CPUT’s District Six campus opened a case with police yesterday, alleging negligence against the institution’s vice-chancellor Dr Chris Nhlapo for their handling of students during the Table Mountain fire.

Students allege that the university neglected those who were affected by the fire which broke out on Sunday, causing extensive damage to landmarks and some of UCT’s iconic buildings and forcing evacuations nearby.

CPUT District Six campus SRC member Thato Malume said the students in residence were told to stay indoors as the fire spread.

“During the week, we went to CPUT to do an oversite and upon our arrival students complained that the Dean of students and the residence managers during the fire, said that they must lock their rooms and the security must not allow anyone to go out and the university management said students must drink milk.

“There are students who complained that they had asthma and asked the university to call the ambulances. The university did not do that. Among them was a pregnant student.

’’Today we opened a case of gross negligence. What is surprising is that UCT did its evacuation and CPUT students were locked inside the residence. The smoke has serious detrimental effects on one’s health,” said Malume.

CPUT spokesperson Lauren Kansley said all university students in the residence were offered the opportunity to move to another residence at the Bellville campus but none opted for this.

“It is unfortunate that the very desperate plight of the evacuated UCT students affected by the fires this weekend is being leveraged on by a small minority of CPUT students. While CPUT has residences in the District Six, Woodstock and Mowbray areas none of these were affected to the same degree as the UCT residences.

“CPUT has responded swiftly to the needs of its own students following the devastating fire. With CPUT residences in the District Six, Mowbray and Observatory areas, our immediate concerns were the health and safety of staff and students with respiratory concerns who may have been directly or indirectly affected: eg by the smoke.

’’This week vice-chancellor Nhlapo along with members of his management team visited all CPUT residences and campuses to do an in-person site visit and assess the situation,” said Kansley.

Police spokesperson Andrè Traut said police have registered an enquiry.

“Representatives of a political party approached Cape Town Central police earlier today to lodge a criminal case. They were interviewed and based on the information provided to police, an enquiry was registered, instead of a criminal case,” said Traut.

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