Stellenbosh University opens arson case after admin building set alight

Lizeka Tandwa, News24

Cape Town – Stellenbosch University has opened a case of arson and malicious damage to property after a fire was started at its administration building on Thursday night.

The fire was started in an office in the basement of administration Building B around 22:00, the institution said in a statement.

Security staff and emergency services managed to extinguish it. The office was gutted, but nobody was hurt.

Damage to the office and a glass door at the entrance to the building was estimated at R300 000.

A student's car parked in front of the building was also set alight. Security guards and Woordfees staff managed to extinguish it. The car was partially damaged.

"Unconfirmed reports are that the perpetrators are former workers of companies contracted to the university that protested on campus yesterday," it said.

"This is not protest; this is criminality and as such it is utterly unacceptable," Vice Chancellor Wim de Villiers said.

"We have a duty to protect the university and its people, and will not hesitate to do so. We will also take disciplinary steps against university employees or students involved in this sort of behaviour."

Security at administration buildings had been increased.

Police also confirmed that at least one person had been arrested for the arson.

“This office can confirm that the circumstances surrounding an arson case are being investigated following an incident in Stellenbosch last night.

Shortly after the building was set alight, a suspect was arrested,” Western Cape police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Andre Traut said in a statement to News24.