How the University of Cape Town is responding to #RhodesMustFall protests in the aftermath of a violent night

The Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Town (UCT), Max Price, is presently seeking a court order on behalf of the institution to discourage further violent protests from the Rhode Must Fall protesters. He is doing this in an attempt to keep the protests peaceful and focused on the key issues that have been brought forward by the students. Any student who goes on to violate the court order is set to face a disciplinary committee and will eventually be expelled.

Earlier today, eight UCT students who were arrested during last night’s protests were released on bail and are expected to appear in court later this month to answer to the criminal charges levelled against them which includes, “malicious damage to property and public violence. Meanwhile, the demonstrators will join six other students who have been suspended from UCT over the issue.

Protests in the institution took a nasty turn after a majority of the black students lamented that their white and privileged colleagues were given preferred treatment in terms of accommodation. To drive their point home to the school authorities, they erected a shack close to a site previously occupied by a statue of Cecil John Rhodes. Attempts by the university’s security personnel to get them to relocate their ‘statement’ so as not to obstruct the flow of traffic on campus grounds soon escalated.

In the melee, historic paintings allegedly created by white individuals were taken down from two residences in the school and set on fire, while a bus and a bakkie (pickup truck) also suffered the same fate. The move was deemed unlawful as UCT authorities maintained that they have no objection to the protests, as long as they are staged legitimately.

Additionally, while the #RhodesMustFall movement has its fair share of student and non-student supporters, not all of the students at the University abide by the notion that the protests needed to take a violent turn. According to an anonymous student, there was nothing to gain from destroying property of historic value except regression in achieving their objectives. However, other protesters maintain that they simply reciprocated the violence that they were confronted with last night after UCT authorities called the police on them.

Presently, about 20 students are lying on their backs with placards on their chest at the entrance to one of the institution’s buildings in a silent protest. School activities are reportedly still going on amidst the tense atmosphere of the institution. The UCT spokesman, Elijah Moholola, admits that the school is indeed faced with accommodation problems which it will look into, but refutes the claims that the problem affects only black students. According to Price, violence would only serve to distract from the relevance of the pertinent general accommodation problem that the University is faced with and would therefore not be tolerated.

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