11 September 2017

South Africa: CPUT Students Protest Suspensions and Outsourcing

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

On Monday morning, over 100 protesters were gathered outside the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) Cape Town campus in a parking lot. The protesters were forced to move to there after private security at CPUT fired stun grenades. According to student bystanders, protesters had thrown stones at the security guards.

The demonstration was against the university management's handling of employee contracts and the suspension of four students.

In the forefront of the protest was a masked man (several protesters wore masks) with a red beret who said he was a member of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). He addressed the other demonstrators and the media.

According to the masked man, the demonstration resulted after delays in contract negotiations with CPUT and the hiring of independent contractors for jobs such as gardening, cleaning, and security. He also said due process had not been followed in the suspension the four students.

He said, "We have set countless meetings with management ... but the following day they change them."

But Laura Kansely, the institute's media liaison officer, said: "CPUT management has bent over backwards to accommodate insourced workers and students alike. A reconciliatory approach to student discipline has been rebuffed and all insourced worker queries will be dealt with directly by management during their induction. At this stage management's stance is that the wellbeing of the greater CPUT community must come first."

According to Kansley, in the early hours of Monday morning a room in one of the Cape Town campus buildings was petrol bombed.

At noon, the protesters walked to Cape Town Station with the intention of travelling to the Bellville campus of CPUT to meet with other student protesters. At the station, the protesters were met by police who used megaphones to tell them that neither public violence nor damage to property would be tolerated. The protesters then proceeded to the Bellville campus.

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