CPUT protests escalate from arson to attempted murder



October 12, 2016
CPUT protests escalate from arson to attempted murder

CHAOS: Burning barricade CREDIT: Ayanda Ndamane / Daily Voice

Students attack guards, set van and campuses alight.

CPUT students went on the rampage again yesterday, pelting private security guards with rocks and setting a vehicle on fire.

While CPUT put the number of arrests at 19, police confirmed that 11 students have been arrested.

Classes at the Bellville campus resumed yesterday after weeks of violent protests for no fee increases and the re-instatement of two suspended students, among other demands.

At CPUT Bellville, police were called in for crowd control as about 1000 students tried to force their way into the administration building.

The Daily Voice saw about 10 SAPS officials joining the 15 security guards facing the mob.

Students wanted to meet vice-chancellor Prins Nevhutalu and sent in a five-person delegation, but he apparently declined to meet, which angered the students.

This comes after a meeting between stakeholders was disrupted at the varsity on Friday when a group of students stormed the auditorium, leading to Nevhutalu being evacuated due to safety concerns.

Yesterday the angry students threw rocks at the guards and cops, who responded by firing stun grenades and teargas into the crowd.

Several journalists and their cameramen were also caught up in the chaos.

Three students were caught, with private guards hitting them and pepper spraying them while being held down.

CPUT spokesperson Lauren Kansley said last night the situation was being closely monitored.

“We are also aware of a minibus van that was set alight at Cape Town campus and are still waiting on further information. 19 arrests in total were made at Mowbray, Bellville and Cape Town,” says Kansley.

Varsity management was locked in a meeting last night to map a way forward.

But protests continued into the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The City’s Fire and Rescue Service were called out to two separate arson incidents said City Fire Chief Theo Lane.

The first fire at CPUT’s Belhar campus started shortly after midnight when the university’s control centre was set alight and three guards were allegedly locks inside. The management at CPUT have since opened a case of attempted murder says CPUT spokesperson Lauren Kansley.

The second incident was reported just before 4am at CPUT’s Cape Town campus, when a section of a building was set alight.

Both fires were brought under control as fire rescue services, Metro police, SAPS were deployed to scene.

In a statement on Wednesday Kansley said: “Given the fact that we have no guarantee that the security situation will stabilise, the decisions has been taken to suspend classes until further notice. Some of the measures we’re implementing include online tuition, alternative forms of assessment and for staff to work off campus.”

“They also torched the security office at the main entrance to the [Bellville] campus and at least two vehicles were also damaged. In Cape Town a building was also set alight. Charges of attempted murder were laid after protesters locked two security guards inside a burning building.”

National police spokesperson Brigadier Sally de Beer says: “I can confirm four arrested at CPUT Mowbray and seven at CPUT Bellville South. The charges relate to intimidation and public violence.

“SAPS again urges all students to exercise their right to protest in a peaceful, non-violent manner.”

Meanwhile, UCT and UWC remain on lock-down as management try to salvage the academic year.

UWC spokesperson, Luthando Tyhalibongo, says lectures have been suspended for the rest of the week, pending the outcome of meetings with students.

UCT spokesperson Gerda Kruger says classes are suspended until further notice.

At Stellenbosch University, it was business as usual after classes were suspended on Monday due to protesters disrupting classes.

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