South Africans came together to assist the University of Cape Town (UCT) as it battled wildfires that broke out early on Sunday morning, spreading overnight towards the Devils Peak Estate/Vredehoek area of the Cape Town City Bowl. UCT is South Africa’s oldest university. Established in 1829, it has maintained a proud tradition of academic excellence, which today sees it ranked first in Africa and the only African university consistently ranked amongst the top universities in the world by the most widely recognised ranking systems Times Higher Education and Quacquarelli Symonds.
Renowned for its striking location at the foot of Table Mountain, UCT is a microcosm of the city in its title. It is home to a vibrant, cosmopolitan community of over 27 000 students and 5 000 staff members from over 100 other countries in Africa and abroad.
The damage affected UCT’s historic African Studies Library, founded in 1953 and other buildings near Woolsack Drive, including the Mostert’s Mill and three structures. According to the UCT website, the special collections library consisted of printed and audio-visual materials on African studies and a wide array of other specialised subjects, as well as more than 1,300 sub-collections of unique manuscripts and personal papers. The collection of books and pamphlets exceeds 85,000 items on African studies.
The University was forced to evacuate all students on its main campus. Schools in the suburb also had to evacuated as a precautionary measure.
About 250 firefighters have been battling the blaze, which was fanned by strong winds. Helicopters were used to water-bomb flames, but their work had been hampered by the windy conditions.
Several humanitarian organisations and community groups were quick to play their part to help those affected by the fire.
- Non-profit organisation, Gift of the Givers provided more than 4 000 meals to UCT students, and firefighters who were fighting the blaze the same day.
- The Shoprite Group started serving warm meals to while Checkers Sixty60 committed to credit customers the R35 delivery fee for all orders delivered to the Sea Point Fire Station on 4 Kloof Road, Salt River Fire Station on 346A Victoria Road and Cape Town Fire & Rescue on Roeland Street.
- E-hailing services Uber and Bolt also came to party, with free rides for stranded students.
- Cape of Good Hope SPCA is getting ready to rescue animals affected.
You too can play your part and donate essential items and food to students at the Old Mutual West Campus, 91 Jan Smuts Road, Pinelands, Cape Town. Items must be sealed, in accordance with Covid-19 protocols. Financial donations can be made to with donor names included as references to the following account:
Account name: UCT Donations Account
Bank: Standard Bank of South Africa
Branch code: Rondebosch Branch, 025009
Account number: 07 152 2387
Swift code: SBZAZAJJ
Brand South Africa thanks the firefighters, organisations and citizens for their selfless acts and response to UCT’s cry for help. It’s at times like these that the culture of Ubuntu in South Africa proves to be effective and beneficial. who were prompt in their response and were able to spare the many lives caught in the disaster. It is important that all citizens continue with their selfless acts, unite and play their part in helping in any way possible.