Protesting UCT students occupy Kramer building over financial struggles

The students have demanded that Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng and university management address their financial struggles face to face.

UCT students occupied the Kramer building which houses the campus' student financial aid office on Friday, 12 March 2021. This comes as students in the country protest over university fees and financial exclusion. Picture: Kevin Brandt/Eyewitness News.

CAPE TOWN – A group of protesting University of Cape Town (UCT) students has occupied the campus' Kramer building on Friday.

They are demanding that Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng and university management address their financial struggles face to face.

They also want around 2,500 financially excluded students be allowed to register.

The building houses the campus' student financial aid office.

This follows days of protests in Johannesburg by Wits University students making similar demands – including the scrapping of historical debt.

The co-chair of the university's residence council, Mila Zibi, said he was there to amplify the cry for free education.

“There are more than 2,500 students that are unable to register because of financial exclusion. Some of them have graduated but they are unable to receive their transcripts, and they are unemployable because they don’t have something that says that these people have graduated, and these are their marks.”

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Students Representative Council (SRC) president Declan Dyer said: “This is the headquarters of the fees office, this is the headquarters of financial aid, and the headquarters of student housing is there. This is now the student centre. We will occupy Kramer. The SRC offices will now be based at Kramer.”

The university said it has more than 1,600 students with historic debt, amounting to R88 million.

UCT said over the past few years, it had put measures in place to assist eligible students with historic debt – with around R30 million set aside this year.

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