Picture: EPA
Picture: EPA

The ghost of Fees Must Fall seems to have been exorcised for now at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT).

Students at CPUT head back to class on Monday, after academic activities were suspended this week when protests broke out.

Students and university-employed workers disrupted the academic programme at its Belville campus on Monday to resurrect their grievances over employees not receiving full benefits from the university.

Protesters also demanded that the university council push harder to ensure criminal charges against students who participated in last year’s volatile fees protests were dropped.

Acting vice-chancellor Chris Nhlapo initially halted classes for two days, fearing for the safety of staff and students. The university had hoped to resume normal functioning on Thursday.

However, after consultations with all of the parties, the council resolved that staff activities would resume on Friday, and classes resume on Monday.

The biggest victory for workers and students to come out of the emergency council meeting on Wednesday was a strong commitment to secure permanent contracts for disgruntled workers by the end of August.

Workers will be issued with official employee numbers and added to the university’s payroll on August 25.

The outcome on the issue of court cases was less positive.

In a memo distributed to staff and students, the council said it would keep pursuing the dropping of charges against its students — but its hands were tied as the issue extended beyond its jurisdiction.

University spokesperson Lauren Kansley commented via e-mail: "With regards to student discipline matters related to previous fees protests, council has reiterated that the criminal cases are not an internal CPUT process. An amnesty which mimics the TRC process will be explored by the university to conclude any internal outstanding student discipline issues."

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