On 22 February 2015 a fire struck the Van der Sterr building at Stellenbosch University. The building housed the university’s Accounting and Statistics department.
It is reported that the roof, the third floor, and the northern and eastern sections of the building were most damaged during the blaze. Fortunately, there were no reported fatalities.
CapeTalk's Kieno Kammies spoke to the spokesperson for Stellenbosch University Sue van der Merwe.
According to van der Merwe, 75 staff members work in the building with ten lecture halls of various sizes that accommodate up to 2 500 students per period attending classes.
She advised that it is a challenge finding substitute venues, but that they have already started arranging alternate lecture spaces for the students.
The faculty and some of the roster staff have looked at alternative venues to move the classes to.
Van der Merwe says that the building fire has not affected other logistical provisions such as exam timetables or the grading of term results, as it is still early in the year.
Obviously, it is a traumatic event for staff and postgraduate students who have offices and work stations in the building. At this stage we don’t know whether pertinent material such as research documents has been lost; but books may have been lost.
The spokesperson added that they currently do not have access to the building and will have to wait for the forensic team to complete their work. Thereafter the university’s trauma counselor will take the various staff members up to their offices to observe and determine what exactly they have lost.
Apart from all the logistical arrangements that need to be done, it is also, on a personal level, a significant event.
Departmental tests are scheduled from 26 February 2015, and the university is in the process of providing contingency measures for those tests. Temporary timetables and other information have already been posted on the Economic and Management Sciences faculty website. Staff and students that have been affected by the fire have also received information via e-mail.
The University released a statement here.
Listen to the full update below: