The University of Cape Town‘s Student Representative Council (SRC) has appealed to the public to assist students affected by the recent fire on its campuses with donations in the form of laptops, toiletries and stationery.
About 4 000 students were evacuated from various residences at the university on Sunday when a fire broke out on Upper Campus and spread to the Rondebosch area. The students are being housed temporarily at various hotels in the Mother City.
While South Africans have opened their hearts and wallets to assist the institution in the wake of the disaster, Deputy Secretary-General of UCT’s SRC, Jamie-Lee Thomas, says most of the students were only able to take the bare minimum from their rooms when they were evacuated.
“Students got here and they needed toiletries, because they didn’t have any, they had to leave everything behind, they needed clothes and they needed food so that is what we’ve been getting and thank you to all the donors, but now we still need donations for laptops, we still need donations for toiletries and stationery and food as well,” adds Thomas.
Students are expected to begin returning to their residences from tomorrow:
Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, says those from fire-damaged residences, will be given the opportunity to collect their belongings, and will be placed in alternative residences.
UCT management says it is overwhelmed by the relief efforts and grateful for all the contributions.
The university plans to resume its academic programme on Monday.
Some students are concerned about the impact of the lost academic week.
“I think right now my biggest worry is the people in Smuts and Fulle. I personally lived at Tugwall Hall so nothing was affected as far as I have heard. But we have heard that at Smuts and Fuller there were some roofs that have burnt down so we are very worried about those students,” says one student, Retshedisitswe Molefe.”
Student Siyolise Masindwa says it has been a challenging time.
“It was such a traumatic experience seeing everyone screaming, running, crying and everything. So, mostly what I am worried about is the mental state and the submissions that some people still have on top of that even though the deadlines have been moved. But at the back of our minds, we know we have this traumatic thing to deal with,” Masindwa adds.
Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, has urged the students to be calm, as the special circumstances of the fire and evacuation will be taken into account.
“The faculties will let them know how the tests will unfold, obviously we can’t just move tests that were going to be written this week to next week because the venues are taken so the faculties will arrange that,” Professor Phakeng explains.
She says the semester will not be extended, and that faculties will find a way to make up for the lost academic week.
The Thabo Mbeki Foundation has sent its heartfelt sympathies to the University of Cape Town. It has also expressed appreciation for the work done by the management and leadership of UCT to manage the challenging situation.
Impact of the fire on UCT libraries: