UCT on fire. Students have been told to evacuate the premises. Photo: Cape Town Metro
UCT on fire. Students have been told to evacuate the premises. Photo: Cape Town Metro

UCT suspends academics following Rhodes Memorial blaze

By Zodidi Dano Time of article published Apr 19, 2021

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THE University of Cape Town should immediately suspend all semester tests and focus on providing counselling services to students following a blaze that destroyed some of the campus properties on Sunday, education activists say.

The fire that started close to Hospital Bend at around 8.45am close, moved up towards Rhodes Memorial and then towards the UCT upper campus.

Two firefighters were injured while trying to contain the blaze. They were taken to hospital.

Students were evacuated from the university residences and the university arranged emergency accommodation for them.

University spokesperson Elijah Moholola said academics had been suspended for Monday and Tuesday.

UCT vice-chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, in her letter to students, confirmed this: “No classes, tutorials, laboratory work or tests will take place on Monday, 19 April or Tuesday, 20 April. We will assess the situation and provide further updates before midday on Tuesday.

“The safety of students and staff is paramount. For safety reasons, campus will be locked down and no one, other than emergency services, will be allowed access. We are all anxious about the extent of the damage to the Rondebosch campus. We will provide updates as soon as we are able to do so.”

Education activist Hendrick Makaneta has called on the university to suspend semester tests.

“We salute the brave men and women who have put their lives at great risk to fight the blazing fire at the Rhodes Memorial in Cape Town. Our prayers are with students and staff at UCT and surrounding communities during these trying times. We further call on the UCT management to suspend all semester tests and find a way to provide students and staff with the necessary counselling,” Makaneta said.

UCT said it was deeply concerned about the impact the fire would have on students and staff.

It encouraged students to make use of the South African Depression and Anxiety Group as well as ICAS.

• SA Depression and Anxiety Group: 080 024 2526

• ICAS: 080 111 3945

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