SOUTHPOINT STATEMENT AND ACTIONS AGAINST STUDENT VIOLENCE AT THE ORCHARD
SouthPoint condemns the destructive and violent behaviour driven by 30 to 40 student activists at The Orchard, causing more than R1-million in damage to property while negatively impacting on the safe and peaceful living environment of hundreds of other university student residents, as well as SouthPoint staff and their families who live in the residence.
To protect the lives and safety of its student residents, staff and suppliers as well as its property, SouthPoint has terminated the leases of students against whom we’ve also successfully secured an urgent High Court interdict on the basis of a prima facie case, as well as irreparable and imminent harm by these students:
- Mpumelelo Toto
- Bongani Dediso
- Thando Maphisa Nulukhanto
- Bonginkosi Bavuma
- Sandiso Tshakaumani
- Nam Malgas (non-SouthPoint resident)
- Yamkela Nopetsheni (non-SouthPoint resident)
- Nosisizwe Ngqentsu
The above-listed students are charged with serious criminal acts including arson, public violence and malicious intent to damage property (in addition to our resolution to add charges of assault, hostage-taking and grievous bodily harm); the students were required to leave the premises on Sunday, 06 September.
The protest action at The Orchard first commenced on 25 August, mostly around grievances against CPUT and Government regulations around COVID-19 – issues over which SouthPoint has limited control or even no control.
Student activists requested the relaxation of health protocols, which is not in keeping with the greater interests of the residential complex.
Six other students were arrested on 01 September in relation to the same criminal acts noted above for arson, public violence and malicious intent to damage property, and are currently awaiting bail hearings. They, too, will not be allowed back at The Orchard; they include:
- Potso Masemola
- Siyabulela Nyamankulu
- Simongaliso Mofokeng
- Sibabalwe Faku
- Mandilakhe Maci
- Asakhe Gladile
- Vusumzi Ntoyakhe
SOUTH POINT WOULD LIKE TO PLACE ON RECORD:
- South Point supports everyone’s hard-earned democratic right to protest, but it will not tolerate destructive and criminal behaviour that threatens the rights, lives and safety of others.
- Breaking our house rules is one concern, but breaking the law and placing the lives of hundreds of hardworking students and SouthPoint employees and their families in danger is another concern altogether.
- Students have crossed the line by setting fire to rubbish bins at the entrance to our building manager’s home, with this wife and children (aged 5 and 10) inside. SouthPoint does not condone violence – less so against women and children, which is rejected in the strongest possible terms. The family is currently undergoing trauma counselling and have been moved off-site for their own safety.
- SouthPoint refutes allegations of gender-based violence in the removal of female students – all SouthPoint staff and management wore body cams to ensure security protocols were properly followed.
- South Point is sympathetic to the inconvenience caused by Government-regulated COVID-19 protocols as raised in the student memorandum but, ironically, the destructive protest action taken by these students destroys the very infrastructure that safeguards the secure, student-friendly environment demanded by them.
DESTRUCTIVE DAMAGES AND VIOLENCE DRIVEN BY THESE STUDENTS INCLUDE:
- The unlawful discharge of fire extinguishers into the hallways and into the rooms of non-participating students’ – the use of fear-based intimidation as a classic bullying tactic – while placing the lives of residents at risk with the repeated acts of arson caused by the protestors.
- Disabling essential fire detection equipment (which pre-alerts the company and its residents in the event of a fire), placing the lives of residents at risk with the repeated acts of arson by protestors.
- Intimidating and holding SouthPoint staff members hostage for six (6) hours on 27 August.
- Setting refuse bins alight in front of the residence of The Orchard’s building manager, endangering his life, and the lives of his wife and two children (aged 5 and 10).
- Burning seven (7) SouthPoint-sponsored student bicycles within two (2) meters of the residence, placing student residents and the building at risk
- Damaging security equipment, tampering with power-supply and theft of COVID-19 health protocol equipment, rendering essential services non-functional.
- Violence: including the stoning of security staff, and the life-threatening intimidation of many of SouthPoint’s staff and service-providers.
- Theft and burning of a SouthPoint vehicle, and extensive damage to another company vehicle.
- Destruction of the turnstiles at the access point – rendering access control non-functional.
- Tampering and damages of CCTV – rendering monitoring and safeguarding of students non-functional.
- Smashing of windows with bricks and the flooding of the administrative office.
And for what? The demand that the building be ‘open access’, that social distancing measures put into place around kitchens, showers, TV rooms and visitor restrictions are removed – and against Government and global
health protocols (in addition to demands for an increase in laundry tokens, an increase in the electricity allowance and uncapped Wi-Fi and provision of room heaters).
Some (but not all) of the demands are, quite arguably, valid and reasonable requests – and to which we have responded in detail to CPUT. But, to burn the entrance of someone’s home with two small children inside before even reading our response? No. This irrational, violent, cruel and criminal behavior is not – and will not – be tolerated or welcome at SouthPoint. Any reasonable individual would not condone or be sympathetic to this type of behavior and we would be irresponsible if we did not act with the urgency and force that this requires.
ABOUT SOUTH POINT & THE ORCHARD:
- South Point was established in 2003 and is the country’s largest private provider of student accommodation, and is home to nearly 13,000 university students in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.
- The Orchard opened in 2018, custom-built to house some 1,300 university students in Belhar, Bellville, Cape Town. The state-of-the-art residence represents a R250-million investment by SouthPoint in its efforts to provide modern, safe and well-run student accommodation options.
SCENES FROM SOUTHPOINT THE ORCHARD, BELLVILLE – AFTER STUDENT VIOLENCE: