Stellenbosch University: Afrikaans being used as tool of exclusion - EFF

Fighters say institution must ensure the special policing of anti-black racism and act harshly on all cases of racism

EFF statement on the University of Stellenbosch racism

25 August 2015

The EFF is deeply concerned about the racial hostility at the University of Stellenbosch as was exposed in the recent documentary based on experiences of more than 30 students. The documentary shows one black student after another recounting specific experiences of racial abuse in many spaces of the university, including in the class rooms.

It is a fact that the strategy of many white racist groups in South Africa since the demise apartheid is to try and close down many spaces and preserve them as racial enclaves exclusive to white people. These groups do this through raising properties costs so that their neighbourhoods remain predominantly white; they make entrance fees to gyms, entertainment centres and other social spaces expensive hoping that black people will not afford and thus realising their white-only enclaves.

The most dangerous of the strategies to maintain white-only areas is the continued use of the Afrikaans language, as a language of exclusion. Through it, they try to mark territory and limit access, in particular to education and culture. The University of Stellenbosch needs to appreciate this as a fact, that some Afrikaners are manipulating the policy of multiculturalism to try and maintain white-only spaces, including Stellenbosh as a town.

This is because many in the Afrikaner communities fail to accept the new South Africa and continue to relate to Afrikaans as the language of domination and control. This fails to appreciate that Afrikaans is actually spoken by many black people than whites, particularly in the coloured communities. In fact historically, anthropological origins of the Afrikaans language are not exclusive to the Dutch settler communities. Afrikaans was appropriated by colonialists as a language of narrow nationalist domination, when in fact it socially emanated from amongst the blacks and colonised classes.

We call on the University management to rework its language policy in light of this social fact about how white racism survives in new South Africa. The management must realise that its language policy has not served to transform white domination in its campus, rather it has served to reinforce it. As a public institution, it must do everything in its power to shift the actual cultural balance of forces in favour of the historically disadvantaged. Unless this is the case, Stellenbosch will remain the breeding ground of white arrogance and supremacy. All the black students who want English must get it, not as second hand, but first hand.

The university must also ensure the special policing of anti-black racism and act harshly on all cases of racism. It must take stock of all reported cases that students have opened with the police, as well as the management itself and follow them up with precision.There must be a special security unit to surveil racial violence so that black people feel safe where ever they are in Stellenbosch. The Department of Higher Education must further put pressure on the university to realise these outcomes.

All white people must accept that they can never live in exclusively white areas in Africa. There must never be any door that is shut against black people anywhere in South Africa. The primary condition of living in this country is that you are prepared to accept the basic thesis that it belong to all who live in it.

Statement issued by the Economic Freedom Fighters, August 25 2015