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UCT Fire Emergency Appeal

By now alumni would have become aware of the news of the devastating fires that have caused significant damage at your alma mater, the University of Cape Town. The information below provides a brief overview of recent events:

  • The fire started on Sunday, 18 April, on the mountain near Rhodes Memorial, adjacent to the University of Cape Town (UCT).  Fanned by strong winds blowing in the direction of our main campus, the fire spread over the course of the morning and afternoon to various locations on UCT’s Upper and Middle Campus.
  • During the early afternoon on Sunday, all UCT students and staff were safely evacuated from campus by emergency services support staff and taken to hotels and other UCT residences, where they are being provided with meals and temporary accommodation. As at 20 April, 3,467 students have been allocated temporary accommodation at 35 hotels across Cape Town. 
  • All academic activities have been suspended for the duration of the week following the fire. UCT will resume its academic programme on Monday, 26 April. 
  • During Monday 19 April, UCT emergency teams assessed student needs at all locations where students are being housed temporarily. An emergency assessment team also inspected the campus to ascertain the extent of damages to buildings and to put in place provisional plans for the resumption of classes and relocation of students back into accommodation. 
  • UCT buildings impacted by the fire include Fuller Hall and Smuts Hall residences along with a large section of UCT’s Jagger Library Reading Room, which was completely gutted by the fire. The loss of precious irreplaceable collections held in the library is devastating. Structural damages are currently estimated to run into tens of millions. 


Donate to the UCT Fire Emergency Appeal:

UCT is deeply grateful to all the donors and alumni who have already come forward to supply food and other essential items for our students today, and to everyone who has so generously offered other forms of support and assistance. We thank all emergency services support staff who have worked with the University, City of Cape Town and SANParks, and send wishes for the swift recovery of four firefighters hospitalized for injury on duty fighting the fire.

UCT alumni and friends of the university can make a difference in the following ways:

  1. Make a gift or pledge today: there are immense needs arising from this fire, focused primarily on assisting students and the wider UCT community in the immediate aftermath of this disaster. Whether you are an alumnus of UCT, member of the wider Cape Town community, friend of the university or a philanthropic donor, please show your support for UCT and its students affected by this fire by giving or pledging today . 
  2. Make an in-kind donation:the Development and Alumni Department are accepting in-kind donations from individuals and corporations. Having left their residences in haste, students have an urgent need for the following items: 
1 Toiletries, including toothpaste, toothbrushes, sanitary towels, deodorant, soap and body lotion
2 Airtime to maintain contact with their loved ones and to access coursework so that they can continue their studies over this time
3 Stationery packs containing A4 note pads, a set of pens, plastic envelope   
4 Vouchers for the purchase of clothing, particularly underwear. 
5 Refreshments and snacks

For more information on the kind of donations needed and where these can be delivered, please contact the Development and Alumni Department: OR


  1. Share the #UCTFire appeal with other alumni across your network. The University of Cape Town needs the support of its global alumni community. With your help, we can rebuild.
  2. Initiate or join a local alumni chapter or affinity group: as a collective, you will be able to mobilise support in greater numbers for the #UCTFire emergency fund. Contact the alumni relations office for advice on how to establish a chapter and, for contact details for existing alumni groupings in your region. The alumni community is powerful global network. Email us:
  3. Follow us on social media @UCTalumni: get regular updates on the #UCTFire emergency fund needs directly from us, along with information on the impact of donations received. Information on the university’s response to the fire can be found on the UCT website including the latest images taken of UCT campus.




Additional resources:

  1. Read:  Vice-Chancellor’s message to the UCT community (18 April 2021)
  2. Read:  Chair of the Alumni Advisory Board's special message (20 April 2021)