DA calls on Nzimande to engage Treasury for funds to help UCT recover from fire damage

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The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande to engage National Treasury for additional disaster funds to help the University of Cape Town (UCT) recover from the fire that has damaged the 200-year-old Jagger Library, among other buildings.

The library houses invaluable African literature among other things.

The iconic Rhodes Memorial was also destroyed by the raging fire.

DA Shadow Minister for Higher Education, Chantal King, says the fires were fanned by strong winds. King says student accommodation at the institution is also a concern.

She says restoring the library will need additional funds as valuable original source material may have been lost.

All classes were suspended at the university for Monday and Tuesday as hundreds of students had to be evacuated.

UCT activities suspended for two days following mountain fire:

The DA says UCT will need to source various experts to restore charred documents at the 200-year-old Jagger Library.

The party has called on Nzimande to ask Treasury for more funds to help with the process. It says some of the material at the library is very valuable and may have not have been digitised when the fires broke out on Sunday.

King has welcomed swift action taken by UCT to evacuate students. She has also applauded the assistance of humanitarian organisations, such as Gift of the Givers. She also says rangers and firefighters have gone the extra mile to deliver as always in a crisis.

UCT buildings damaged by Table Mountain fire:

Authorities assessing damage

Authorities at the university say they are still busy assessing the extent of damage caused by a mountain fire.

Law Enforcement Officers have arrested one person in connection with the fire and are actively looking for two more suspects.

Several roads remain closed near UCT where three buildings were damaged, including the historical Mostert’s Mill.

UCT Vice-Chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng says two student residences, the Smuts and Fuller Hall were also gutted. She says the extent of damage is being assessed.

“We are busy with the assessment. We met with the executive this morning. The team is out assessing the extent of the damage. All we can say at the moment the buildings which have been affected most important, our library that holds our special collection. We are devastated and there are two old residences Smuts and Fuller Hall that are also damaged.”

– Additional reporting by Mlamli Maneli.