Mixed feelings for UCT students as academic programme resumes after fire

The fire saw several academic buildings ablaze, after it had spread from Rhodes Memorial to the campus last Sunday.

A City of Cape Town fire engine on UCT's upper campus on 19 April 2021 following a blaze the day before. Picture: Lizell Persens/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - The University of Cape Town (UCT)'s academic programme resumes on Monday after last week's devastating fire and some students said that they had mixed feelings about returning to lectures.

The fire saw several academic buildings ablaze, after it had spread from Rhodes Memorial to the campus last Sunday.

About 4,000 students were forced to evacuate.

The large majority have since returned, while those who resided at the Smuts and Fuller halls remain housed in hotels while restoration continued.

Luke Rissik (19), a first-year Business Science student specialising in finance and who resides at Smuts Hall, already had a delayed start to his tertiary academic career due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I've been getting used to new academics, new lecturers, essentially a highly new way of life and this was greeted by chaos, fire, evacuation already after such a problematic last year."

In-between dropping off donations for firefighters and other less fortunate students, Rissik also made time to study as this week marked "test week".

"I am, in that sense, ready to go back but in many other ways I'm not ready to continue my academics because there's stress, this fire hasn't just stopped existing although the ramifications around the fire, there'll still be uncertainty around this place."

About 400 students who were housed at the Smuts and Fuller halls have yet to return to their residences, as restoration at the campus continued.

Rissik has thanked his supportive network of friends who offered him clothes, toiletries and a place to rest his head amid the chaos.

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