CAPE TOWN – The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) closed its Cape Town campus on Monday after a protest, apparently over the availability of student accommodation.
CPUT acting Vice-Chancellor, Dr Chris Nhlapo, said classes and other activities were cancelled for the day in the interest of safety.
“We are aware that protesters forced staff and students out of a number of buildings and started a fire in an office in the multi-purpose hall,” he said.
Staff members were encouraged to work from home for the day. Other campuses should operate as normal.
Nhlapo said operations at the Cape Town campus would continue as normal on Tuesday.
CPUT spokesperson Lauren Kansley said a small number of students started the protest in the early hours of Monday morning.
The university was trying to establish the reasons for the protest.
The fire was started in a hall used for exams.
Western Cape police confirmed they were investigating arson.
26% of students accommodated
Last week, some students continued to voice their dissatisfaction over delays in being placed in student accommodation.
In a video to students, CPUT SRC general secretary Mbaliyezwe Madikizela said some students were not eligible for the accommodation.
However, she believed there were more than 1 000 students who did meet the criteria and were still waiting to be placed.
Madikizela condemned any illegal action which resulted in the destruction of property and threatened the safety of individuals.
Kansley said university management had spoken to student leaders about accommodation on many occasions.
“Most recently, 217 beds were occupied by our students since the beginning of March 2017. Students are also occupying an additional 324 beds at the South Point residence in Woodstock since the beginning of March 2017. So that is an additional 541 beds made available in this year alone,” she said.
The residence department had, in a tender process, called for an “expression of interest” from interested parties to provide student accommodation that complied with all requirements and standards.
CPUT currently accommodates around 26% of its student population in its residences.
To address the shortage of student accommodation, private service providers could apply to be accredited by the university.
Kansley said at least 250 beds for the Bellville campus had been accredited. She expected this number to grow.
Students who did not manage to get into a CPUT-owned or leased residence could contact these service providers by accessing the database on the university residence webpage.
No university was able to accommodate all students who wanted university residences, said Kansley.
“Students are always encouraged to source a range of accommodation options and not rely specifically on the limited student residence placements.”
PHOTO: Entrance to CPUT Cape Town campus. Image: Eye Witness News(Supplied)