The University of Cape Town (UCT) have cancelled all campus activity including classes, tutorials, laboratory work and tests on Monday 19 April after the Cape Town fire forced students and faculty staff to evacuate buildings on Sunday afternoon. 

Campus has been placed under lockdown until the blaze, which firefighters and emergency services have been tackling since Sunday morning, is brought under control and the university is deemed safe for students to return to. 

UCT on lockdown

In a statement released on Sunday evening, UCT said that in light of the fire affecting the Rondebosch campus, and the impact this is having on the university’s buildings as well as the evacuation of residences, all academic activities will be suspended tomorrow and on Tuesday.

“No classes, tutorials, laboratory work or tests will take place on Monday, 19 April or Tuesday, 20 April. We will assess the situation and provide further updates before midday on Tuesday,” they said. 

“The safety of students and staff is paramount. For safety reasons, campus will be locked down and no one, other than emergency services, will be allowed access. We are all anxious about the extent of the damage to the Rondebosch campus. We will provide updates as soon as we are able to do so.”

UCT students provided food and shelter after evacuations  

UCT said that food and emergency accommodation have been arranged for all the students who had to be evacuated earlier on Sunday. The fire tore through the university’s library and threatens to cause further damage to other buildings. 

They said that the needs of the UCT student body’s Muslim contingent have also been considered as Eid is celebrated, 

“The necessary arrangements have also been made to accommodate our Muslim students. Food will be prepared at Old Mutual’s offices in Pinelands, Cape Town and from there it will be distributed to the locations where we are accommodating our students,” they said. 

The City of Cape Town said on Sunday night that to date, the only evacuations that have taken place are of UCT students in residences on campus.

“No private residences have been evacuated – should the need arise, DRMC will go door-to-door in affected areas to assist residents. For now, residents are advised to keep doors and windows closed to manage the impact of smoke caused by the fire.”

Donations requested  

UCT have been provided the support of Gift of the Givers, who have pledged some 4 000 meals to affected students. They have requested further support from the public as they try to mitigate the impact of the devastating incident. 

“The public have been asked to donate any essential items and food which they may wish to contribute at Old Mutual West Campus, 91 Jan Smuts Road, Pinelands, Cape Town,” they said. 

The site will be open until 23:00 tonight and will re-open at 6:00 tomorrow morning.

Student support resources  

UCT said that those who had been caught up in the chaotic, troubling events that have unfolded on Sunday may require support beyond their need for shelter and food. They offered the following support hotlines should affected students require them:

  • SA Depression and Anxiety Group: 080 024 2526
  • ICAS: 080 111 3945

“We are, of course, deeply concerned about the shock and fear that may have been experienced by students and staff,” they said. “UCT is deeply grateful to all the donors who have come forward to supply food and other essential items for our students today.”

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Presh JM Reporter

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