The University of Johannesburg (UJ) has identified the perpetrators who were involved in the Sanlam Auditorium arson attack, Northcliff Melville Times reports.
The damage caused by the fire came to an estimated R100 million. The attack happened in the early morning of May 15 and left the auditorium gutted.
Media relations officer Herman Esterhuizen said the university was quick to restore venues used for teaching, which were also damaged in the fire. “They were suitable to be used from the 1 August,” said Esterhuizen.
He added the SA Police Services (SAPS), the Special Investigation Unit (the Hawks) and forensic investigators appointed by the university’s insurers worked closely with the university to identify the perpetrators of this heinous act.
“These investigations have made significant progress and the UJ will now embark on disciplinary action against the students who were identified as having been involved in this act,” said Esterhuizen.
Esterhuizen said that in light of the extremely serious nature of the incident, the university did not consider it appropriate to delay the disciplinary proceedings pending the conclusion of criminal proceedings, which might only commence sometime in the future. “It is also not in the interests of the university and its stakeholders to permit these students to remain on campus in anticipation of criminal proceedings.”
The university is nevertheless mindful of its responsibility not to prejudice the State’s criminal case and hence, it would not be prudent to make detailed information about the evidence public.
“As a place of research, innovation, learning and teaching, the university must always be a place of open debate,” said Esterhuizen. “UJ will continue to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety, security, and freedom of movement and debate of all its people. All measures will be taken to ensure the safety of students, staff and the buildings, which create the environment in which they need to study, teach, and work.”
He concluded UJ prided itself in its ability to provide accessible learning and teaching to all its students. In order to remain one of the top performing universities, those guilty of these actions will have to be held accountable.
– Caxton News Service