Cape Town - A group of student protestors who on Friday defied a 2pm deadline to vacate the University of Cape Town’s Bremner building they had occupied since March 20 were up against extraordinary circumstances, a former UCT student said on Friday.
“We have to leave quickly because we are facing an extraordinary threat,” said Chuman Maxwele, the former student who allegedly threw faeces on the Cecil John Rhodes statue and started the debate which eventually led to the removal of the monument.
The protesters and the Student Representative Council had agreed with the university that they would end their occupation as soon as the statue was removed.
The SRC had honoured the agreement but the movement had splintered and the breakaway group had remained behind and continued the sit-in.
Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price had earlier on Friday issued a warning to the remaining protesters that they needed to vacate at the building at 2pm. But almost an hour later they had not left and the university was locked in closed discussions with the group.
A few of the students left an hour after the deadline.
Maxwele and SRC President Ramabina Mahapa left soon thereafter.
“The movement is going to draft a response to Price,” said Mahapa.
Mahapa said although the SRC were honouring their agreement to vacate the premises, it was their responsibility to protect the remaining students.
“We want to facilitate mediation between the University and the students. We may have separated from the movement but that does not mean we do not continue to support and protect them,” he said.