Stellenbosch promises to ‘remove racists’

Rector and vice-chancellor Professor Wim de Villiers promised Parliament’s portfolio committee on higher education and training on Tuesday Stellenbosch University would root out “racists”.

Stefan Lang, the outgoing SRC chairman, having to rush through his address in order to provide committee members the chance to respond to the university’s presentation, reiterated that the SRC was focussed on “celebrating diversity”, a euphemism for black monoculture.

“Our vision is to create a welcoming ethos and anything that is against that must be removed,” he said.

“Our journey is imperfect, incomplete but we remain steadfast,” said De Villiers.

De Villiers, along with the rest of Stellenbosch University’s management were called before the Portfolio Committee to respond to allegations of racism made in an online documentary called “Luister” recently.

The 35-minute video has been trending on social media since its release last month.

“I watched ‘Luister’ with my wife… it was uncomfortable and upsetting,” said De Villiers. “I do not enjoy knowing that students – my students – are suffering. It is painful.”

The student movement, Open Stellenbosch, was first to post the film online. It documented 34 students and a staff member’s accounts of racism on campus. De Villiers said he would not “attempt to defend the indefensible”.

“It’s wrong. Racism, discrimination, human rights violations, exclusion and marginalisation are wrong,” he said.

However, De Villiers pointed out certain “nuances” omitted from “Luister” and in the dialogue that followed thereafter. Among these, De Villiers said clarification on off-campus incidents had not been made and that Elsenburg, a campus mentioned in the documentary, was in fact not part of Stellenbosch University.

The “activist group” Open Stellenbosch on Tuesday embarked on a protest march to coincide with university management appearing before MPs to account for the institution’s transformation policies.

The group has bemoaned the university’s use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction, charging that this was devised to safeguard Afrikaner culture at the expense of black students.

Last week a documentary titled Luister, which captured black students’ plight at the university, caused ripples in Parliament and the government. Following its airing, the university’s management was ordered to appear before Parliament’s committee on higher education to explain themselves.

Source: IOL/ Business Day