UCT condemns disruption of midyear exams amid protests over insourcing
The University of Cape Town (UCT) has condemned the disruption of exams and confirmed it has opened cases of trespassing and malicious damage to property after a group of people walked into an exam hall and scattered exam material onto the floor.
In videos shared on social media on Monday, a group of men can be seen walking through the venue on the upper campus, scattering exam papers along the way. They are followed by men wearing colourful bibs.
UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said the group of individuals were “neither employees nor students of the University of Cape Town”.
“UCT condemns these actions in the strongest possible terms. It is an infringement of the rights of students to sit for their midyear exams in a conducive environment. Campus protections services (CPS) officers are working to secure all venues on upper campus.
“UCT has laid charges of trespassing and malicious damage to property with the SA Police Service (SAPS) and will work closely with SAPS. Exams scheduled for the remainder of Monday, June 6, will be proceeding as planned,” Moholola said.
UCT's student representative council (SRC) called for the halt of all university activities, "pending the resolution of workers' grievances". The SRC said the protest stems from the struggles of insourcing of workers, dating back to 2015.
“The lack of insourcing of casual workers who've been working for the university for years means they don't [have the] benefits of their sweat, like other workers,” it said.
Even though the university promised to resolve the issues, its failure led to ongoing protests, it added.
“The SRC and unions have raised the issue with management to resolve the crises. Therefore workers have been obliged to take matters to the ground as it has been the only language management comprehends. We urge all students to have patience and stand in solidarity with our mothers and fathers to find a resolution to the issues.
“The SRC further urges management to call the suspension of university activities such as examinations until workers' grievances are taken to account and preserve the safety of students. The institution cannot continue with business as usual when the fabric of the university suffers in silence.”
A UCT student who had her last exam interrupted said shortly after students sat down and had their papers handed out, a group of protesters walked in and shouted, “Get out, get out ... the exam is cancelled.”
“They started scattering all the papers on the desks, told people to get out. As far as I know, they were not violent. It was verbal. Our lecturer then announced that the exam is cancelled because some people had already had a look at the exam paper. We all had to go home,” she said.
The student, who started her first exam three weeks ago and had already booked a flight back home to Johannesburg for this weekend, said a lot of students from outside Cape Town were saddened by the disruption.
“A lot of us had already made travel arrangements. Some people are leaving as early as tonight. A lot of people are upset that they will have to change their travel arrangements. Most of us don't know when the make-up exam will be written, so there is a lot of uncertainty.
“Our main concern is that people are going to be travelling far and making those last-minute changes is going to cost a lot as flight tickets are very expensive around this time. Most people can't afford that.”
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