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UCT ‘will rebuild facilities’ after devastating fire, says VC Mamokgethi Phakeng

20 April 2021 - 11:34 By cebelihle bhengu
University of Cape Town vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng says the institution 'can create new treasures out of our own scholarship' after the Jagger Library was destroyed by a fire. File photo.
University of Cape Town vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng says the institution 'can create new treasures out of our own scholarship' after the Jagger Library was destroyed by a fire. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander

University of Cape Town (UCT) vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng on Monday expressed optimism the institution will recover from the destruction caused by the wildfire which destroyed buildings across Rondebosch and Rosebank. 

This comes after a blaze which started on Sunday morning around Rhodes Memorial swept through the area before reaching the UCT campus where it completely destroyed the Jagger Library which housed the priceless African Studies collection.

“UCT will, of course, rebuild our facilities. We cannot replace the treasures of scholarship we have lost, but we can create new treasures out of our own scholarship.

“In the same way, each of us can rebuild our own sense of purpose out of this tragedy. To do so, we need to help each other. This is a team effort and I convey my sincere gratitude for the commitment and help you are all giving in the interest of UCT,” she said.

Phakeng said university staff are anxious about their academic projects housed on campus. She encouraged affected students to reach out to the SA Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) to ensure their mental wellness during the course of the academic year.  

On Sunday, UCT evacuated students on its main campus and they were moved to emergency accommodation. The institution also suspended academic activities on Monday and Tuesday 

The Western Cape government and UCT leadership assessed the extent of the damage caused by the fire on Monday afternoon. 

The City of Cape Town fire rescue service told TimesLIVE on Tuesday the fire has largely been contained.

“Three days since the start of the devastating Rhodes Memorial blaze, the fire has largely been contained with firefighting efforts now focused on Deer Park and the Disa Park towers in Vredehoek,” said spokesperson Jermaine Carelse.

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