Long road to recovery: UCT appeals for more donations as it rebuilds after fire

The university’s Elijah Moholola has expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support and added that monetary donations are still welcome as a long road of restoration awaits.

Firefighters try, in vain, to extinguish a fire in the Jagger Library, at the University of Cape Town, after a forest fire came down the foothills of Table Mountain, setting university buildings alight in Cape Town, on 18 April 2021. Picture: Rodger Bosch/AFP

CAPE TOWN – Exactly one week since the inferno raged through its premises, the University of Cape Town (UCT) has appealed for more financial aid in the wake of the fire that's caused devastation to several buildings at the campus.

The fire, that began on the slopes of Table Mountain last Sunday, gutted the Jagger Reading Room, two student residences, and other buildings.

Donations in money and kind have poured in, in the wake of the disaster.

READ: Capetonians open hearts, wallets to thank firefighters battling mountain blaze

The university’s Elijah Moholola has expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support and added that monetary donations are still welcome as a long road of restoration awaits.

“We are now faced with this financial requirement of rebuilding and repairing when already we were trying to recover from the financial impact of COVID-19. So, any donation that can still be forthcoming will be really appreciated.”

Some 4,000 students had to evacuate from their residences last week.

ALSO READ: UCT students staying in residences able to return from Thursday

The large majority have since returned, as the academic programme resumes on Monday, 26 April 2021.
“It’s difficult to lose a week in this period, in the sense that we already started 3-4 weeks late due to COVID, and now we have lost a week – but we will find a way of working around that.”

An assessment to determine the full extent of the damage is still underway.

STUDENTS’ MENTAL HEALTH TOP PRIORITY

The university has said the mental health of its students remains a priority in the wake of a fire that's caused devastation to several campus buildings.

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The blaze broke out at Rhodes Memorial Restaurant, exactly a week ago, and swiftly spread to the campus.

A number of historic and academic buildings were destroyed.

Psychosocial support is still being offered to those affected.

“You have a group of students here, especially first years, who came through during a particularly difficult period of the new normal that we are living under – and now to add this extra complexity, it certainly does affect them. The first thing we needed to think about is how do we make sure that that they are supported insofar as the impact of this disaster.”

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