After the overnight occupation of Roosmaryn, several EFFSC UP members began disrupting UP activities across the Hatfield campus. According to several students who were attending class in the Centenary Building at the time, the disruption began with EFFSC UP members storming lecture halls demanding students leave the building. This was then followed by security guards assisting in the “evacuation” of the venue. At the Thuto Building, a fire alarm was allegedly set off by EFFSC UP members, prompting a full evacuation of all of its lecture halls. Both the Centenary and Thuto Buildings were locked down but reopened shortly therafter and lectures subsequently resumed. Similar events took place at several other lecture venues across the campus. Stephanie Oosthuizen, a third-year BA General student,t says “I was in a lecture in the Large Chemistry Building and about 30 minutes into the lecture a security guard interrupted the lecturer and advised that we leave as there were disruptions going on in other lectures … so we were dismissed.”
The protest action then moved to the entrance of the Client Service Centre, which remained closed for the duration of the day.
Following the disruptions, the SRC released a statement in which it noted “the daily disturbance of student activities and learning by small groups of protesters raising legitimate claims through illegitimate means”. The SRC further condemned the infringement on the rights of any student, adding that it had requested an urgent meeting with UP management in order to address student’s concerns and find sustainable solutions to stabilise the current situation at the institution. Afriforum chairperson Marthinus Jacobs said that Afriforum is “concerned by the precedent that is being created by UP when they [UP] constantly give in to radical minorities’ radical demands”. Jacobs explained that the “university management will only have itself to blame if students take their rights into their own hands and sort out the disruptive elements that management … seemingly can’t do anything about.”
In a statement issued by Vice- Chancellor and Principal Prof. Cheryl de la Rey, she said that although student protesters attempted to disrupt a number of lectures at UP, the situation was contained and classes continued. “The safety of students and staff remains the university’s highest concern, and security personnel are on standby to control any further attempts to disrupt classes,” the statement explained.
The statement added that while UP residences were full and the waiting list for residence placements would be honoured, UP was negotiating with private accommodation providers to assist with further placement of students who had not been already placed in residences.
TuksRes was not immediately available for comment on how many students are currently on the residence placement waiting list.
Image: Chad Johnston