Some of the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) special collections have reportedly been saved after volunteers and staff managed to retrieve water-damaged books and material from the basement of the Jagger Reading Room on Saturday.
This comes in the wake of a fire that 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.
“The library staff are here and we have been working this week to recover the material that has been saved in the basement of the library and today they started the process of drying the material because some of it is wet because of the water that went into the basement,” IOL quoted UCT Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng as saying.
— UCT (@UCT_news) April 25, 2021
She added: “We have lost hundreds of millions, just in terms of the buildings and materials. We are waiting for the insurance and working with the assessors to see how much it will cost, only then we can say this is how much it will cost to rebuild. We also don’t know the structural integrity of the walls, whether these walls can be kept or not.”
According to EWN, the university’s Elijah Moholola expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support, adding that monetary donations were still welcome as a long road of restoration awaited.
“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.”
At least 4 000 students had to evacuate from their residences last week.
Meanwhile, government ministers on Saturday visited the UCT and Table Mountain to determine the extent of the damage caused by the fire.
Deputy Minister @ButiManamela is now taken through the sites which were impacted to witness the work done to get the university back to its normal self. Professor and Vice Chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng @UCT_VC is leading the walk-about. @RamneekHH pic.twitter.com/Q6rxN5akep
— HigherEduTrainingZA (@HigherEduGovZA) April 24, 2021
According to News24, the Deputy Minister of Education Buti Manamela believed the destruction of UCT’s African Studies Library and other buildings was an opportunity to re-imagine the university architecturally.
“We really want to see the university back in action and I am also quite excited to hear that, in as much as this is a tragedy, it is also an opportunity to re-imagine the university differently, especially the library and the residences, to give a bit of a modern, heritage cultural touch while also preserving the history,” Manamela was quoted as saying.
On the other hand, the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment Barbara Creecy visited the Table Mountain National Park.
“When you go up in the helicopter, you can see part of the mountain looks like the surface of the moon. All the vegetation is completely destroyed. There are other areas where trees are still smouldering, and we still have crews responsible for the mop-up operations on the mountain,” Creecy said.
The South African National Parks (SANParks) last week estimated that the fire had destroyed 600 hectares of land in the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP).
Picture: Twitter /@UCT