UPDATE: UCT management orders Rhodes Must Fall to vacate Bremner Building; students stand firm

On Friday morning, Hugh Amoore, the University of Cape Town registrar, notified the Rhodes Must Fall movement that students and staff had until 2pm on Friday to vacate the Bremner Building. Rhodes Must Fall members will only leave if management agrees to their conditions. The eviction notice comes after the removal of the Cecil John Rhodes statue from campus on Thursday evening.

Many students will still be catching their breath after celebrating the statue’s removal yesterday. But on Friday, their revelry was cut short. In a letter, Amoore told members of the occupation that the university management had “hereby withdrawn” any consent given to the Rhodes Must Fall supporters to occupy the administration building.

“The Council has made clear that its decision to remove the statue must be seen as an expression of Council’s renewed commitment to the project of transformation at UCT,” Amoore wrote.

Students called an emergency meeting via Facebook in response to the letter. Both students and staff have occupied the building for three weeks to disrupt the processes of management and to ensure their demands are heard.

Should they fail to comply with the eviction notice, Amoore said, they will be “contravening rules of conduct” and may be summoned to the high court.

Before the statue fell, UCT vice chancellor Max Price told the Daily Vox that university management respected the occupation.

“Our view is that the students have behaved with dignity and respected other people’s dignity,” Price said.

However, Price has since said that management understood the fall of the statue to signify the end of the occupation.

“The SRC had always indicated that it would end the occupation of the Bremner building following the removal of the statue,” Price said in a statement. The Rhodes Must Fall movement, however, is independent of the Student Representatives Council, a point Price has failed to recognise.
Eviction notice


In a statement, Rhodes Must Fall negated Price’s claim that the movement was set to vacate Bremner Building pending the removal of the statue. They also dismissed the registrar’s statement about the Council’s renewed commitment to transformation, saying that management has failed to deliver on that promise in previous years.
Rhodes Must Fall has said that the movement would vacate Bremner on three conditions: management must commit to no internal or external disciplinary action against Rhodes Must Fall members in writing; the university must supply an alternative space for Rhodes Must Fall that the movement deems sufficient; and lastly, the university must not “impede, constrain students, and/or put students who will be continuing with the occupation under any duress”.
“Our occupation of Azania House is justified and legitimate,” Fezeka Mehlomakhele, a second-year law and international relations student, read out from the movement’s statement outside Bremner Building on Friday afternoon. “Azania House has evolved to be the only save and therapeutic space for the marginalised on campus.”
– Featured image: By Ra’eesa Pather.