Firefighting in flip flops – Prof Kelly Chibale responds heroically during fire at University of Cape Town

23 Apr 2021 - 10:15

It has been a harrowing few days. The smoky remnants of the Mostert Mill, the oldest working mill in South Africa and the charred Jagger Reading Room UCT library, a heritage building that housed special collections on African studies are constant reminders of what we have lost in the devasting fire that swept across Cape Town on Sunday morning (Daily Maverick).

Prof Kelly Chibale, H3D Founder and Director and Warden of the Smuts Hall, was in the thick of it, battling flames with his sub-wardens and volunteers before assistance from the City of Cape Town firefighters arrived at the scene.

Having witnessed the fire engulfing Smuts Hall, Fuller hall and adjacent buildings, we are grateful to Prof Chibale and all other volunteers who stepped in to prevent buildings from completely burning down.


Thankfully, no casualties occurred and the almost 4000 UCT students were all safely evacuated. UCT has arranged for temporary residence for students while residences are being cleaned and the damage assessed. We are grateful to the many individual volunteers and organizations that helped house and feed students during this time. 


In a time where crisis and uncertainty are the only things we know for sure, we should remain hopeful, because if this crisis has taught us anything, it is that we are stronger than we think and we shall rebuild.


 “… matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.” Albert Camus


Article: Alacia Armstrong


Smuts Hall Residence Warden: Prof Kelly Chibale

Sub-wardens: Siyabulela Ntuntwana, Kealeboga Keretetse & Tafara M'kombe

Volunteers: Kalaba Chibale, Dean Gibson & Brandon Badenhors

Photos used with permission:Smuts Hall Residence