PAINTINGS carried out of buildings at UCT went up in flames last night as students aligned to Rhodes Must Fall continued their protest for student accommodation at residences.
RMF activist Mthunzi Ntothoviyane said their action was because UCT management had threatened to demolish or remove the shack.
“We are not going to back down. By burning the furniture we are intensifying the protest and showing UCT management that we are serious about our concerns,” said Ntothoviyane
Police dispersed the crowd, while firefighters doused the fire, as the students activists continued singing.
UCT spokesperson Gerda Kruger said the university’s executive had asked students to move the shack to another location nearby to ensure traffic flow and the movement of students, and for staff to function uninterrupted.
“We made it clear that their right to lawful protest action is assured but that the shack interferes with University of Cape Town operations, including causing a backlog to the M3 traffic,” she said.
“We also delivered to Rhodes Must Fall a letter asking them to vacate Avenue Hall by 12h00 on Friday this week. We have made repeated attempts to engage RMF on the matter of Avenue Hall and even to discuss the issue of alternative space, but they have dismissed any attempt at engagement. This afternoon the group collected stones and sticks and made a public call that people should erect shacks on UCT campus and come on to campus to protect RMF from the attack by police. In the early evening the group entered Smuts Hall, Fuller Hall and Jameson Hall, removing artwork from the walls and burning it.”
RMF has accused the university management of excluding black students from residences. Students erected the shack on Monday beneath the steps of Jameson Hall and named the area Shackville due to what they called UCT’s continued exclusion of black students. They vowed to erect more shacks as well as tents for about 100 students not accommodated in residences. UCT has rejected the accusation.
Ntothoviyane said law enforcement and the police had nothing to do with the protest.
“They can call the police to shoot us, we don’t care. Police are not going to stop us. If we get arrested, others will continue with the struggle. The management keeps threatening us with letters and calling this action a criminal action.”
Late last night UCT confirmed a Jammie shuttle had been set alight.