University of Cape Town. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
University of Cape Town. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

The University of Cape Town (UCT) said disruptions of its academic programme would "disastrous for the university’s financial stability" and "society".

The statements came ahead of a planned "complete shutdown" of the university on Thursday by Fees Must Fall protesters and workers unions.

The shutdown was originally planned for Wednesday.

UCT’s executive committee received a 48-hour notice from the South African Liberated Public Sector Workers Union (Salipswu) on Monday afternoon.

In a mass meeting held at UCT on Monday‚ student-led protest movement Fees Must Fall called for protests over the alleged exploitation of insourced workers‚ as well as the financial and academic exploitation of students with historic debt.

In a statement on its website on Tuesday, the university pleaded with protesters "to protest or strike in a manner that will not disrupt the operations of the university".

"The university cannot afford to lose any academic time if we are to complete the curriculum in time for exams‚" it said.

It said that a financial aid appeals process earlier in the year showed that it was "financially vulnerable students who suffered the most" from a university shutdown.

"Unlike in previous years‚ the exams are already scheduled until the last days of November and they cannot be postponed except by rolling them over to the next year. This will have disastrous consequences for staff‚ students‚ incoming first-years‚ the university’s financial stability and for society‚" UCT said in the statement.

A Fees Must Fall activist who attended the mass meeting said the UCT executive committee had failed to deliver on any of the Fees Must Fall campaign and Salipswu demands.

"There have been unsuccessful negotiations and meetings. We’ve had enough‚" she said.

UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said the working hours of insourced staff‚ some of whom are on a "four-hour a day" contract‚ as well as their benefit packages‚ were Salipswu’s primary concerns.

The union met the university on Tuesday, and were in a meeting at the time of publication.

Private security employees were also on standby for possible protests at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology on Wednesday, where disciplinary hearings for four student leaders were taking place.

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