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Cape universities: Allegations of pepper spray and a planned night vigil as protests continue

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Western Cape universities continued to host protests on Thursday
  • Two leading Western Cape universities continued to host protests on Thursday.
  • Pepper spray was allegedly used on UWC students.
  • An evening vigil will be held by UCT students to honor those who have been affected by financial exclusion.

Students protested at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and the University of Cape Town (UCT) on Thursday over registration, fee blocks, and student accommodation shortages.

The Pro-Events Security Company pepper-sprayed student protesters at UWC on Thursday morning, according to certain students.

There was no evidence of pepper spray being used by the company’s management.

As reported by News24, Mandla-Onke Natyawa, president of the UWC Student Representative Council (SRC), said: “Management rejected our response, and the university is unwilling to meet any of our demands.”

As part of the demands, students will be allowed to register after they have been cleared financially, will have their first-year and senior residences provided, and they will be allowed to register students who have been assigned academic placements.

On During the morning of Thursday, 12 protesters were confronted by campus security at the entrance to the Nature Reserve.

News24 spoke to students who said they had blocked the entrance gate peacefully.

“We were told by security that management and the student leaders had agreed not to hold demonstrations while negotiations were ongoing. We have never heard of the agreement, and the leader did not give us that directive,” the student said.

They were given five minutes to leave the gate’s entrance, according to the student. Pepper-sprayed students tried to negotiate about the management-student agreement, but were attacked by police.

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According to a spokesperson for UWC, Gasant Abarder, Pro-Events provided the services, but pepper spray did not appear to be used.

In an interview with News24, Pro-Events stated that “pepper spray is legal if it is used by security guards responsibly. Security isn’t meant to physically engage with students.”

A ceasefire agreement while negotiations were underway was denied by both UWC and SRC.

Zeke Wareley, a student at UWC, said the company’s behavior was disappointing.

“The student leaders want to demonstrate that we will not give up until our demands are met,” Wareley said.

As part of its protest, the SRC of UCT continued to demonstrate.

It According to Swazi Hlophe, vice-president of UCT’s Student Representative Council, the SRC will host a night vigil in honor of students affected by financial exclusion and the ongoing housing crisis.

As a result of the financial exclusion, fee blocks and lack of accommodation, the SRC had previously called for an emergency council meeting.

According to University spokesperson Elijah Moholola, engagements between the university management and SRC are still ongoing.

“The university has not reported any disruptions or incidents on campus on Thursday, 16 February 2022. It will provide further updates as they become available.”

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