In focus: When Table Mountain caught alight

By Dave Harker 25 April 2021

One of the last students slowly leaving the residence. Photo: Dave Harker

Cape Town photographer Dave Harker shares analogue photos from the day the University of Cape Town burned.

Dave Harker

“To be there in that moment, seeing the situation unfolding in front of me, I felt helpless. I could only turn to documenting the scene, with students scrambling and grabbing their belongings. It was testing for all involved,” says photographer Dave Harker

All images were shot on Ilford HP5 35mm film.

A rare glimpse of Devil’s Peak on Sunday 18th April, with an increasingly out-of-control fire. Photographs: Dave Harker
Rosebank, the heart of UCT student residence covered up in smoke.
A group of students, leaving the university’s residences.
Helpless. Students were left stranded on the street with all their belongings not knowing in which direction to go.
A student standing on the corner of Woolsack Drive in the heavy smoke.
A security guard running to drop off fire extinguishers at various buildings.
A security guard running to drop off fire extinguishers at various buildings.
Students leaving the university.
A common sight amongst students, contacting their loved ones alerting them to the situation.
A traffic officer calmly guiding the traffic through a chaotic main road, with plenty of vehicles and people walking.
Woolsack Drive blocked off traffic, with only emergency vehicles using the smokey road.
Empty student residence covered in a cloud of smoke with no one in sight. DM/ ML

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  • The students weren’t ‘left stranded on the street … ‘ Buses, food and accommodation were organised remarkably quickly.

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