By Sibongile Ralana
This article is exclusive to the online Edition 2 (Wrap Edition) of VARSITY Newspaper.
On Thursday 29 March 2018, human faeces were dumped by a small group of students into the kitchens of Graça Machel, Tugwell, Kopano and Leo Marquard residences in the early hours of the morning. This was allegedly done in protest for the grievances of the catering staff of Graça Machel residence (which VARSITY reported on in a previous article). A statement issued by Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Transformation and Student Affairs; Professor Loretta Feris states that one male and three female students have been held in regards to this incident, the matter is being investigated and action will be taken by the university.
“One male and three female students have been held in regards to this incident”
UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said “there have not been any further updates since the VC Desk issued on 29 March 2018. We will issue further updates as when there are developments on this matter.” We also reached out to the Head Student of Graça Machel Hall, Riedwah Petersen for comment on the incident. “I do not know if the students were from Graça, and I can also vouch that the house committee were not aware that that incident was to occur. Management showed in past experiences that they only act on things when there is student involvement regarding worker’s issues. However, it is important for our activists to be strategic when doing so and go through the necessary channels before doing anything radical,” said Petersen.
Head Student of Kopano residence, Reatlegile Magano also commented on the matter. “I am strongly obliged to stand in solidarity with the workers in the kitchen especially now more than ever. My goal is to build a progressive Kopano in which all stakeholders feel the comfort of being at home,” said Magano. He further added “the dumping of human waste in the kitchen was totally uncalled for and I condemn it. If the perpetrators were looking for a way to shut down the operations of the dining halls effectively then I personally think this was not the way to go about it. This act was selfish and it consequently ended up achieving the opposite of what it was intended for, as the staff ended up having a lot of pressure from management for them to uphold their end of their contracts where it is stipulated that they must serve students a meal, how were they supposed to do this in that environment they were subjected to?”
A group of students residing at residences on lower campus, who wished to remain anonymous, expressed opinions on the matter. They felt the incident was an inconvenience, disappointing, careless and dangerous to the workers and students. Some felt the workers do have grievances that must be addressed and they support protest for these issues, but they do not support protest of this form.