RMF members occupy Azania House

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FILE PHOTO

Published Jan 18, 2016

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Cape Town - Rhodes Must Fall (RMF) student activists have reoccupied Avenue Hall at UCT as a prelude to #FeesMustFall (#FMF) protests at the university.

RMF members said they had reclaimed the space and have vowed to relaunch a national campaign for free education from the building they have unofficially renamed Azania House.

RMF spokesperson Alex Hotz said: “We had already claimed the space. Now we are back to reclaim it. The university has given it to us until the end of exams, but we have decided to occupy it indefinitely.”

Hotz said “Azania House” had become the epicentre for “decolonial thought” and a home for students in collective movements. RMF’s leadership had already been discussing alternatives if the university management should decide to forcibly remove students.

When the Cape Times visited on Sunday, small groups of students sat on the lawn in front of the hall, with three security guards in close proximity.

Later more students arrived and insisted that the Cape Times leave as members were to take part in a plenary to discuss #FMF and “other matters”. “We are being targeted and threatened for being part of the movement.

“We cannot have our faces and names being published in the media because our lives are in danger,” the student said.

Last year, UCT student Thabiso Monyakane appeared in court on a charge of rape after fellow student Zola Shokane, 20, alleged that she had been sexually assaulted at Avenue House. A group of students had stayed the night at the venue after a #FMF meeting ended late on November 15.

Monyakane had been part of the #FMF campaign, but RMF has distanced itself from the accused, saying he is not a member of RMF.

UCT management then delivered RMF with a notice to vacate the hall with immediate effect on December 11, but students refused to leave, saying UCT had acted in bad faith by evicting them without providing an alternative venue, as was agreed.

UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said in May last year the university had agreed to make Avenue Hall available to RMF for use during the academic year. He said a new agreement had been reached to permit the students to continue using Avenue Hall as a dedicated working space.

Asked what UCT was doing to stop students from sleeping in the hall after the rape incident, Moholola replied: “The university is concerned that Avenue Hall is reportedly being used for other purposes. UCT will look into this further.”

He said the rape case was being dealt with through legal proceedings.

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@carlo_petersen

Cape Times

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