Photo: Twitter/UCT EFFSC
Photo: Twitter/UCT EFFSC
After the University of Cape Town (UCT) agreed to rename the Smuts Hall student residence, members of the university’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) student council have on Monday 21 June defaced the building in order to “clear the space of its racist, colonial heritage”.
Members of the UCT EFF SC said that by covering a statue of Jan Smuts in plastic bags, they have finally drawn a line under the apartheid leader’s legacy at the University.
“Rubbish belongs in plastic bags,” they said, adding that they demand that UCT remove the statue entirely.
On Saturday 19 June, the UCT Council announced that following meetings with and recommendations from of the Naming of Buildings Committee, they have taken the decision to rename the Smuts Hall student residence to “Upper Campus Residence”. This, they said in a statement, will allow UCT to “move on from the past while continuing to recognise the significance of our legacy”.
“As much as this is part of the ongoing transformation efforts at UCT, any name change process can be emotive for both those calling for the name to be replaced and those wishing for it to be retained. However, if anything, the Smuts Hall renaming should provide a moment through which we view the name changing processes from completely different lenses,” said Babalwa Ngonyama, Chair of UCT Council.
Ngonyama said that the UCT Council said that the Council’s decision “should not be seen as merely replacing what we do not like with what we feel resonates well with us or what we feel we relate better to”, but is a concerted effort to “forge a new path towards creating an environment of inclusivity and shared identity on campus”.
“I have a clear sense that UCT is in a new moment. How far we have come from the time of #RhodesMustFall. The utter pain and anguish at the time of the decision to remove the Rhodes statue from campus was significant,” she said.
“And yet, we have as a campus moved closer to a community that can speak with one another, can acknowledge the complexities of the past but honour its gifts, can engage each other to come to new names of campus spaces that we feel is more representative of our current values and who we are as an inclusive collective.”
The EFF SC said on Monday that the statue of Jan SMuts had “haunted” black students for too long, and welcomed the decision to rename the student residence.
“What was known as Smuts Hall Residence, is now Upper Campus Residence. The statue of Jan Smuts that haunted black students, is now covered in plastic bag as we wait for UCT executive council to remove it soon. Rubbish belongs in plastic bags,” they said on Twitter.
“Fighters have successfully unveiled the new name of what was known as Smuts Hall and covered the Head of this racist man. We will not watch, as racist colonial figures continue to be celebrated in UCT.”