UCT students issued eviction notices

The Rhodes statue has been removed, but a group of students are still occupying UCT’s Bremner building.

FILE: UCT management issued an eviction notice to the remaining students to vacate the building on Friday afternoon. Picture: Masa Kekana/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Some University of Cape Town (UCT) students who have been occupying the Bremner administration building as part of the 'Rhodes Must Fall' campaign were issued eviction notices on Friday, but maintained they were not going anywhere.

The group had been occupying the building for the past few weeks.

Watch: Defiant UCT students vow #RhodesMustFall is just the beginning

The statue of Cecil John Rhodes was removed on Thursday, but a group of students were still living in the building a day later.

A large banner still hung over the building's balcony which read 'Rhodes Must Fall'.

The group of students said their occupation of the Bremner building was not purely based on the removal of the statue because this was merely 'one' of their demands.

Fezeka Mehloma-Khulu claimed the university had made several unfounded allegations against them in its eviction notice.

The students said they simply weren't prepared to vacate the building until their demands were met.

These included the university not taking any form of disciplinary action against any member of the group.

They also wanted UCT to provide a space for the movement to continue with its work.

UCT management issued an eviction notice to the remaining students to vacate the building on Friday afternoon.

While campaigners were unwilling to divulge their next steps, they said they would speak to the media once they'd discussed the matter.

One student, Mase Ramaru, said the movement had at no point communicated with Price about vacating the building.

"There was no agreement set by the 'Rhodes Must Fall' movement and management to evacuate the building and we cannot give any more information as students are in a plenary now."

UCT Vice Chancellor Max Price said the university was considering going as far as laying criminal charges against the 'splinter group'.

He said students had crossed the lines of an acceptable protest and if it continued, the institution would have no choice but to approach the High Court for an eviction order.

Price said protesters had over the past month disrupted work at the administration building, forcing some employees to work from home.

"I am also aware of the incidents of chants of 'one settler one bullet' as was heard at both the Council meeting on 8 April and at the occasion of the removal of the statue on 9 April."

He added, "I wish to express my dismay that this has happened, condemn all acts of intimidation and reckless utterances as they have no place in our democracy and are in serious conflict with the values of the University."

He said the splinter group also ignored the Student Representative Council's pleas when they stormed into the Council meeting on Wednesday night and forced the Council to interrupt its meeting for about an hour.

"Firstly, we have also been disgusted by the volume and vitriol of racist comments made primarily on online social media, but also some graffiti on the boards assembled for people to write comments on. We are investigating every one of them."

Price said the university would create a forum where students, staff and the university leadership co-determined the agenda for action.

"Secondly, we have also committed to concluding the review of symbols and names by the end of this year. Thirdly, we have created a space for black academic staff, in particular those who affiliating themselves with 'Transform UCT', to engage with academic heads of departments to develop a programme within each academic department that addresses the issues of staff transformation."

Price added that the university remained open to mediation, should the group wish to do so.

The leader of the 'Rhodes Must Fall' movement has, meanwhile, denied the existence of a 'splinter group' and accused Price of being divisive.

'Rhodes Must Fall' leader Kealeboga Ramaru said Price was trying to divide students.

"He is purposefully saying that we are a splinter group so that people start to question the legitimacy of what's going on. He knows there haven't been people who moved out and new people that occupied. It's 'Rhodes Must Fall' and it's the same people he's refusing to engage with."

WATCH: #RhodesHasFallen

Earlier on Friday President Jacob Zuma said he was happy that the debate around the removal of apartheid and colonial statues had begun, but said they should not be destroyed and South Africans should forge a new common heritage.

Zuma added that the debate should be conducted in an orderly manner without chaos.

He's called on South Africans to remember that tolerance was one of the trademarks of the transition to democracy.