Portfolio committee calls for Stellenbosch University meeting following allegations of racism and violence

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training will call the Stellenbosch University management to an urgent meeting in light of the latest allegations of racism and violence at the institution.

The committee agreed at their meeting on Tuesday morning that the university’s management had to appear in Parliament to table their transformation plans.

Committee chairperson Yvonne Phosa said‚ “We noted with serious concern the allegations of racism and violence at Stellenbosch University. We are 21 years into a democratic South Africa and such alleged acts certainly have no place in our society.

“We urge the Stellenbosch University management to swiftly deal with these allegations. We are aware that there are some measures that the university has put in place to ensure that there is transformation at Stellenbosch University and that the institution becomes socially inclusive.

“But such efforts have to be sped up to ensure that allegations such as those revealed in the Luister video are dealt with and do not rear their ugly head again in future. It is one thing to talk about plans which are on paper but we would like to see those plans being implemented.”

Released in August‚ the Luister video is a documentary distributed via social media which shows how students are allegedly still exposed to the dehumanising experiences of racism and other forms of discrimination. It is a series of interviews with students who talk about their personal accounts of race-based discrimination and even violence at the university.

Phosa said the committee was working on setting up a meeting with the university management as soon as possible. “The issue of transformation at Stellenbosch University has been on the committee’s agenda and we were supposed to have had an oversight visit to the institution in July but this was cancelled due to a number of factors on the university’s side‚” she said.

Phosa said that the committee was going to reprioritise its programme to give immediate attention to this pressing matter. “Given the urgency of the matter‚ we are going to call the institution to Parliament as soon as possible.

We want to be able to have a meaningful dialogue with the university leadership and impress upon them that the transformation of any public institution of higher learning cannot be postponed.

“What we are clear on is that we cannot have a situation whereby a public university’s language policy serves as a barrier that ultimately shuts out some students from accessing higher education and training opportunities‚” she said.

Phosa reassured the students and staff members who are victims of this alleged racism and violence at the university that “as a committee‚ we will certainly not only listen to their outcry but we will ensure that concrete action is taken to address the issues raised and ensure that they work and learn in an environment characterised by social cohesion”.

“While we acknowledge that Afrikaans speaking students have a right to be taught in the language they prefer‚ we also want to state that it is of paramount importance to recognise that any other student at the university has the right to access higher education in a language they are conversant with‚” she said.

– RDM News Wire.

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