CPUT workshop petrol bombed, exams disrupted during protests

Private security guards monitored the Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s (CPUT) Cape Town campus on Monday, after a workshop at the engineering building was petrol bombed in the early hours and exams were disrupted during a protest.

No one was injured.

Stun grenades were fired to disperse protesting students who were unhappy with the insourcing process and the suspension of four students.However, not all students were on the same page. Some told News24 they did not want the protest to happen.

They said they had tried raising their concerns with the protesting group but felt they had no voice.

“We are afraid to fail. Our parents are worried. Most of the days it is like we have been on vacation,” one of the students said.

“It is so unfair. If I could, I would strangle these people.”

She asked not to be identified for fear of victimisation. Individuals believed to be involved in the protest had earlier asked journalists not to speak to students.

By late Monday morning, the campus was almost deserted. Around 100 students sang and danced in a parking lot next to the campus before dispersing.

The SA Police Service (SAPS) and city traffic officials were also on scene.

Exams to continue

The workshop which had been targeted was filled with ash, shattered glass and broken machinery.

The fire had been put out, but the stench of smoke coming out of the broken workshop window could be smelt a distance away.

“We believe attacks like these are an attempt by a small group of students to disrupt exams and wreak havoc,” said CPUT spokesperson Lauren Kansley.

There were also groups of protesters at the Bellville campus.

“We want to stress that CPUT has over six campuses and exams at other venues continue uninterrupted. At this stage no campuses have officially been shut.”

A first year student, who also asked not to be identified, said that she and her friends had been meant to write two accounting exams this week.

“We want distinctions. We don’t just want 50%.”

A masked student, who identified himself only as an EFF fighter, questioned why private security had targeted them.

“All we did was retaliate after they shot at us. Why are they shooting? We are students in the institution. We have the right to enter the campus.”

He said they were unhappy with the contracts offered to cleaners, security guards and gardeners.

“Our workers, our parents are subjected to slavery and are being exploited by these tenders.”

They were also protesting over the suspension of Ayakha Magxothwa, Sivuyise Nolusu, Neo Mongale and Lukhanyo Vanqua.

In their suspension letters, the university accused them of disrupting a council meeting last month, threatening to burn buildings and holding meeting members hostage.

After protests on August 31, the university approached the Western Cape High Court for an urgent interdict to prevent the four and any other individuals from trespassing, occupying buildings or acting illegally. – News24

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Jenna Etheridge
Jenna Etheridge
Journalist, writer and editor

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