The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) closed on Friday after food trucks were torched on the Bellville campus and four people were arrested in the latest wave of violence that has hit university campuses across South Africa.
“Due to the serious acts of vandalism and criminality that occurred overnight on the Bellville campus and in the interests of staff and students’ safety, the executive management has decided to cease all university operations [academic, administration and support] for Friday, 6 March across all campuses,” a university bulletin stated.
“Staff members may leave their workstations.”
The overnight violence occurred despite CPUT management meeting with the Students Representative Council (SRC) on Thursday and receiving a list of demands.
According to CPUT, its management promised feedback on the demands by close of business on Friday.
“Once again, we implore all protest participants to refrain from criminal conduct. There is room for peaceful protest. We apologise to all staff and students for the trauma experienced during this time and will provide the necessary support to those university community members who have been adversely affected.”
Further information will be given to line managers.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source told News24 two food trucks were torched on Thursday night in chaotic scenes where petrol bombs were thrown, and the police fired rubber bullets.
Vendors were apparently targeted because they are white and were accused of giving kickbacks in exchange for catering tenders while the campus’s food court is renovated.
Police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk said four men were arrested on Thursday night and would face charges of public violence in the Bellville Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
Buildings and vehicles have been damaged since the protest began on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, News24 reported that 17 vehicles were damaged, while the windows of buildings were smashed.
In a previous statement, the university’s management said it met the SRC three times a week, where any grievances could be raised.
Apart from a small group, most students had settled in for the academic year, the university said.
On Thursday, News24 reported the University of Fort Hare had also closed after the vice-chancellor, Professor Sakhela Buhlungu, wrote it experienced “ongoing intimidation of and violence against staff, students and members of the public” as well as “looting and damage to property” since 24 February.
Students were also instructed to leave the campus and vacate their rooms at all university owned and leased residences and return home by 18.00pm on Thursday.