The University of the Western Cape (UWC) is on lockdown as workers and students barricade all entrances the university with protests for higher wages and an end to outsourcing. Police have tried to disperse protesters with rubber bullets after workers chanted on university premises from all main entrances.
Students watched in awe as protesters proceeded down Symphony Way towards the lecture halls, the library and main hall pounding on rubbish bins while emptying its contents in lecture halls and at the entrance of all lecture halls.
Law student Keisha Lynn Smit says it’s upsetting that staff can conduct themselves in that manner. She described how many other students ducked from rubber bullets when police tried to restrain violent protesters.
“We were at A Block and they closed the main entrances like other buildings on campus. Then we saw police. The next thing they started shooting. I was running trying to dodge rubber bullets but the cleaners just ran towards police and they threw out all the dirt in the lecture halls. Everyone just watched,” she recalls.
“We have to sit with the dirt. It’s disgusting. We enter the building from the back now. No one has cleaned the area. The dirt is just piling up and it stinks.”
Management announced the closure of the library after they instructed students and staff to evacuate when protest action spilled over into the venue.
Workers are demanding an end to outsourcing and an increase of R10 000. Outraged protesters say they will not settle for the R5000 they have received after university management only increased their wages by R2000.The university is unable to insource due to lack of funds.
“We have add an additional R2000 to their income to assist these workers and should their children decide to pursue studies at the university no costs will be added,” says UWC spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo.
UWC authorities confirmed that East Drive had been blocked by protesters along Symphony Way. Management says that protest action has rattled the premises after went into negotiations with workers on a wage agreement.
“Currently the East Way entrance has been blocked and traffic has been diverted by protesters,” says Tyhalibongo
Authorities say legal action will be taken as protesters have gone against the interdict enforced by the university prohibiting them being on the premises. VOC (Nailah Cornelissen)