UCT Now Recovering After Fire Destroys Buildings

Following the devastating fire, the University of Cape Town is now in it's recovery stages. Investigations into the extent of the damage and the cause of the fire continue.


The University of Cape Town (UCT) sustained major damage due to a fire which started on Table Mountain. Luckily, no lives were lost and the University now has a recovery plan.

The fire cause significant structural damage to the following buildings:

  • The Jagger Library Reading Room and Special Collections (Upper Campus)
  • HW Pearson Building (Upper Campus)
  • Cadbol House (which housed the Student Housing Office in Lower Campus)
  • La Grotta (which housed the Staff Recruitment Office in Lower Campus)
  • Fuller Residence (Upper Campus)
  • Smuts Residence (Upper Campus)

These building will stay closed for the foreseeable future, said UCT in a statement.

Other building and facilities were damaged such as:

  • 11 Woodbine Road (Residence in Rondebosch)
  • AC Jordan
  • Botany Glass House
  • Ivan Toms Pergola in Lower Campus
  • Leslie Commerce
  • Leslie Social Science
  • Molecular & Cell Biology
  • RW James
  • Tennis Courts
  • Upper Campus in general
  • Woolsack Residence in Lower Campus

These buildings are open but still need repairs.

Electrical, information and communications systems and mechanical systems were affected along with lighting poles in the tennis courts and lifts in both Leslie Commerce and Leslie Social Science have stopped working.

UCT's Recovery Plan

The University has come up with a recovery plan which consists of four phases.

Phase one which consists of students returning to residences, restoration of a safe campus environment, academic programme resuming and salvaging archive materials is currently underway.

UCT is now engaging with it's insurers and investigations are now underway.

We are also conducting a full occupational health and safety audit that is a statutory responsibility. Furthermore, and separate from the investigation process initiated by the insurers, UCT will undertake its own investigation and will do so on the basis of legal advice obtained ... South African National Parks, as our direct neighbour, and the City of Cape Town have also launched separate investigations. 

Cause of Cape Fire

UCT said, "The speculation as to  the causes of the fire is understandable. At this point it is not possible to address questions posed in this regard whilst investigations are at an early stage."

A homeless man who lived on Table Mountain has been arrested for the involvement in the fire and has been released on bail. His arrest came after residents reported seeing 3 individuals lighting and re-igniting fires. On arrival, the police saw this man near a fire.

The suspect has said that he is innocent and has members of the community supporting him.

Read the full statement from UCT here.

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