Examinations continued this morning in off-campus venues as planned. There was a good turn-out of students for both the morning and afternoon sessions, with average turn-out of more than 60%.
It is however regrettable that we have to inform the campus community about the developments that happened on campus overnight. Following yesterday’s incidence where students were stoning vehicles on Robert Sobukwe road and on campus, one student was arrested.
The student protest action continued last night and is unfortunately becoming increasingly dangerous and destructive. Five students attempted to forcefully enter the nature reserve and were prevented by Campus Protection. In the process, two security staff were severely assaulted.
Two buildings – the east wing of the Education faculty building as well as the Res-Admin (which was burned last year during student protest and recently refurbished) – were set alight last night. Campus Protection Services were alerted and on their way to help extinguish the fires, were regrettably attacked with objects thrown at them and two have sustained multiple injuries.
Conditions in the residence have deteriorated significantly and this poses a serious threat to the health and safety of students in the residences. The prevention of essential services from entering residences has rendered our residence students vulnerable to intimidation, abuse and threats from protesting students. This is confirmed by an increasing number of letters from students who are reporting on their lived experiences of intimidation and of being prevented from leaving their rooms to go and write examinations.
The cumulative effect of the protest action over the last month, the suspension of services, the violent nature of protest, threats and injuries sustained by students and staff, the psychological effect on the students and staff, the increasing number of buildings that have been burned and vandalised, cannot be understated.
We call upon the campus community to condemn these acts of arson, intimidation of non-protesting students and attacks on campus protection personnel. We respect the right of students to protest but cannot tolerate the violence and intimidation visited upon students who want to write examinations. We call on the protesting students to respect the rights of others. We are looking at ways to immediately ensure the provision of essential services in residences in the interest of the safety and wellbeing of our students.
UWC Executive Management