Rush to get all Cape students home as lockdown looms
The institutions have so far recorded six Covid-19 cases, four of them at UCT, one at Stellenbosch University and another at UWC. All of the infected individuals are in quarantine.
According to UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola, hundreds of students have already been transported to the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
“UCT has to close all residences and require every student to return home as soon as possible. More buses have been arranged for students who have requested travel assistance in light of the lockdown.
“Students who need to travel a further distance from the metros will be assisted to ensure that they reach their homes safely.
"The university will engage with foreign embassies to ensure that international students can return safely to their countries,” said Moholola.
He said the institution was putting every possible measure in place to support as many students as they could.
“Further arrangements put in place last week to support students through this unprecedented period included immediate payment of allowances for all students on financial aid, liaising with the Department of Home Affairs in cases involving international students and securing safe storage for students’ belongings,” said Moholola.
Some students reported confusion and no clear instruction about where they were being taken.
At CPUT, students reported chaos, as thousands were told to vacate residences.
They waited in the rain at the District Six campus for shuttles to transport them to Bellville campus.
One student said she was worried that there would not be enough buses to transport them home.
“This looks like something that was planned at the last minute. We are all being transported to Bellville where a bus is expected to take us home tonight. If there are not enough buses we don’t know where we will sleep because there are over a thousand of us,” she said.
CPUT's Lauren Kansley said management would be chartering buses to assist residence students to return home.
“We appreciated that it would be difficult for these students to return home with limited flights and buses available and the decision was taken to assist them to get home safely and back to their families.”
UWC spokesperson Gasant Abarder said they were in the process of providing buses at no cost to students.
“There are 40 people per bus in 60-seater buses to create space during the commute.
"The university will be closed during the lockdown and there will be no services, such as medical and other support, available to students,” Abarder said.
Department of Higher Education and Training Deputy Minister Bhuti Manamela will lead a Covid-19 team including Universities South Africa and Higher Health and health experts to co-ordinate sector response and collate institutional case management reports.