14 September 2017

South Africa: 28 CPUT Security Guards Arrested

Photo: Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp
Students could not enter the Keizersgracht Street campus of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

Twenty-eight security guards were arrested at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology for allegedly being unregistered, police said on Thursday.

The arrests, made in terms of the Private Security Industry Regulation Act (PSIRA Act), came during a fraught Chancellor's Week at the institution, which has been marked by protests and intermittent faculty and library shutdowns.

CPUT spokesperson Lauren Kansley said the guards were arrested by police on Wednesday night during a "shakedown" by police.

She explained that all of CPUT's vendors, such as the security company which supplies guards, were supposed to belong to an approved accreditation body.

Police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk said the 28 guards would also be charged with fraud and would appear in court once they had been charged.

The PSIRA Act regulates the private security industry and sets out norms and standards that guards and companies must abide by.

Meanwhile, the institution will be arguing in the Western Cape High Court on Friday over whether an interdict granted on September 1 against four students, anybody behaving unlawfully, and the minister of police, should be made final.

A temporary interdict obtained on September 1 prevents students Ayakha Magxothwa, Ndiphiwe Tokwe, Neo Mongale and Lukhanyo Vangqa from conducting themselves "unlawfully" or trespassing on CPUT premises and at its residences.

They were not allowed to disrupt classes or exams, nor form any barricades or incite, harass or intimidate anybody.

Libraries closed

The police minister is cited as the 6th respondent and the order, if made final on Friday, compels the police to intervene if any of the conditions are violated.

An affidavit by the acting vice chancellor, Nkongwane Stoffel Nhlapho, who is based at the Bellville campus, alleges that a number of insourced security guards and cleaners left their posts at the Cape Town campus' library on September 8.

The guards did not report for duty on Saturday either, so the libraries in Cape Town, Wellington and Mowbray could not open, and campus gates were also closed.

This meant students could not do any work in the library during this time.

A voice note began circulating, saying the campus would be shut down and no exams would take place, apparently because the four students named in the affidavit were suspended, according to the affidavit.

"The unlawful conduct of going from residence to residence to incite and threaten students to boycott the examinations and classes, has since Monday, 11 September 2017 commenced and is still happening at the time of signing this affidavit," Nhlapo said.

"Although police and CPUT private security guards are deployed at various locations, they are encountering grave difficulties in curbing such unlawful conduct."

The incidents cited in the affidavit to back up the application include the alleged petrol bombing of the Design Building on the Cape Town campus and the disruption of a Research Fair at the Bellville campus, which ended with stun grenades being fired by police.

New chancellor

Protesters also allegedly prevented assessments from continuing, and a security guard was robbed of his shotgun.

Libraries at the Athlone, Cape Town, Bellville, Wellington and Athlone campuses had to be closed and stones were thrown at the windows.

Somebody also tried to burn down the MultiPurpose hall at the Cape Town campus, but it was put out in time.

Kansley said that the university was not closed, but sporadic incidents may affect certain parts from time to time.

She said that, in spite of disruptions, the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Thandi Modise, had been installed as CPUT's new chancellor on Thursday.

The event was marked by a congratulatory note from Parliament, saying it was one of the best ways of recognising Modise's work for a free South Africa and for the Constitution.

"We have no doubt that her association with the institution at such level will make a significant contribution, not only to the CPUT, but to the entire higher education sector currently undergoing a number of challenges," said parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo.

Source: News24

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