SU: DA welcomes SAHRC probe - Leon Schreiber

This is after students at some residences reportedly told not to speak in Afrikaans

DA welcomes SAHRC investigation into alleged human rights violations perpetrated against Afrikaans students by Stellenbosch University management

25 March 2021

The DA welcomes today’s announcement by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) that it will investigate the DA’s complaint against the management of Stellenbosch University (SU), led by rector and vice-chancellor Wim de Villiers, following alleged human rights violations against Afrikaans-speaking students.

The SAHRC will investigate whether the university language policy’s prohibition on the use of Afrikaans - including in “private spaces, bedrooms, digital platforms like Whatsapp and even on park benches in front of students’s residences” - violated a number of Constitutional rights, “including the right to equality on the basis of language, race or any other prohibited ground.”

The DA filed the charges with the SAHRC last week. Our complaint was accompanied by affidavits submitted by various students, which indicated that the ban on Afrikaans extended to at least four different residences across both the Stellenbosch and Tygerberg campuses of SU.

Our complaint also asked the SAHRC to investigate the extent to which the university’s 2016 language policy - which abolished Afrikaans as an equal language alongside English - encouraged or otherwise incentivised the alleged human rights violations.

While the investigation is ongoing, we encourage members of the public to sign our petition to reject the first draft of the university’s revised language policy, which will weaken the position of mother-tongue education even further and therefore likely lead to further human rights violations against Afrikaans-speaking students. We will submit the petition and its thousands of signatures to SU as part of the public participation process before 12 April.

The DA also calls on Wim de Villiers and university chancellor, Edwin Cameron, to break their disturbing silence on these disgraceful violations of the right to mother-tongue education. Instead of waiting for the SAHRC investigation, the university management should publicly apologise for the prohibition on Afrikaans, and immediately restart the process to review the language policy with the explicit aim of guaranteeing equal status to Afrikaans and English.

Statement issued by Dr Leon Schreiber MP - DA Constituency Head: Stellenbosch, 25 March 2021