Price says UCT ‘arson’ attack premeditated

The recent petrol bombing of the Vice Chancellors office at the University of Cape Town is under investigation however Dr Max Price believe the incident was premeditated.

 

Surrounded by yellow police ticker tape, the office of University of Cape Town (UCT) Vice Chancellor Max Price has become the scene of a crime after an arson attack on Tuesday night.

The second day of protesting at the university escalated with student’s petrol bombing the VC’s office after the removal of a shack erected for a demonstration.

“I wasn’t on campus when the petrol bombing happened,” said Price. “Fire alarms went off and a team was called in to put it out,” he added.

This comes after the Rhodes Must Fall #Shackville demonstrations which began on Monday in protest of the lack of accommodation for black students at the university. Rhodes Must Fall activists erected a shack on Upper Campus which was subsequently forcibly removed.

A student, who did not want to be named, said “a small group of us decided to burn Bremner, Max Price’s office.”

“The building itself works against the students … We made the decision that we have to target UCT, the space, the actual building because the building, the administration particularly, it works to push black people out,” the student activist added.

It was the frustration of violence and the symbolism of the act that lead to the burning of Price’s office “[Max Price] himself is the reason why police come on campus, why they fire rubber bullets, why they imprison our comrades, basically why black people are kicked out, he is the gatekeeper of the system,” said the UCT student.

But despite these sentiments the VC seems unfazed by the demonstration, “The office represents the head of the university. Therefore, I do not take it personally,” said Price.

Price also said the attacks were “acts of vandalism which were planned and prepared.” He said evidence in the form of bottles and petrol were found in the same shack used in the protest.

At this stage there is no evidence of who is responsible for the arson attack but an investigation is underway. “It is a crime scene and will be treated as such,” said Price.

New Rhodes vice-chancellor contributes salary to “needy” students

New Rhodes vice-chancellor contributes salary to “needy” students

Rhodes University vice-chancellor Sizwe Mabizela had his inauguration last Friday., and dedicated his speech to the Biko and Mxenge families. Photo: Provided

Rhodes University’s newly inaugurated vice-chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, has vowed that no academically talented – but financially needy – young person will be turned away from Rhodes University in Grahamstown.

“It is a bit aspirational,” he told Wits Vuvuzela. “But we have to make a point that we will raise funds. I will make it my personal mission.”

When Mabizela became deputy vice-chancellor in 2008, he made a “salary sacrifice” and contributed part of his salary towards a bursary fund that assists financially needy students who are academically talented, mostly from poor and rural families.

As vice-chancellor, he said that he will increase this contribution, to about R300 000 in total. He will also continue to encourage community members and university staff to contribute.

“In fact, I encourage every young person in this country to make a contribution,” he said.

Mabizela is the first black African vice-chancellor at Rhodes University in over 100 years, but does not want people to “get hung up on this”.

“That I happen to be black and African is simply an accident of history from which we have just emerged. I don’t want this to be elevated above any and everything else, because I would be deeply troubled if I was appointed simply because of that.”

He said that when he accepted, he made it very clear that he was not motivated by personal glory or material and financial gain, but rather by a commitment to serve the university and wider South Africa.

Rhodes had to turn away approximately 130 students at the start of the year, because they were denied National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funds and were unable to register. Mabizela described the experience of having to deny qualifying students an education as “painful”.

Under Sizwe’s leadership as a part of senior management for over six years, Rhodes has matched NSFAS’ contribution of R32-million by spending approximately R34-million on assisting “desperately poor” but academically strong students.

One of Sizwe’s aims is to make the university more socially aware and one that “tackles local problems and challenges facing Grahamstown and the Eastern Cape”.

The university plans to make it a centre of academic excellence, improving primary school education, all the way to tertiary education.

“We have to brighten this corner where we find ourselves.”