NWU Potch campus an ‘apartheid enclave’ – Blade Nzimande

2014-09-26 17:06

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The North West University’s Potchefstroom campus is still rooted in apartheid ideas, says Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande.

“The Potchefstroom campus of NWU remains fundamentally an apartheid institution, if not an enclave, in urgent need of transformation,” he said today.

He was reacting to a report on apparent fascist initiation practices at the institution.

Nzimande said according to the report it was clear “that there are deep-seated practices at the institution related to its welcoming programmes for first-year students that violate human rights and dehumanise first-year students”.

Earlier this year, Nzimande asked the university council to investigate reports in February of Nazi-style stiff-arm salutes first-year students allegedly made during an initiation ceremony at the Potchefstroom campus.

He received the report of the investigation by an independent task team on June 27.

Nzimande said that, at the time of receiving the report, he was asked not to make it public.

“I have decided not to comply with this request. It is unacceptable that a report that exposes a deep moral corruption at a major public university should be kept from the university community and the people of this country.”

Nzimande said the report indicated the problems in question were specific to the Potchefstroom campus and that the initiation practices at residences mainly targeted first-year students, especially those not from the dominant Afrikaans feeder schools.

The initiation practices had been carried out for so long that they had come to be considered cultural practices in the residences, said Nzimande.

“It is also clear that these practices are well known to the management of the residences, with some actively participating in the processes.”

He said that, according to the report, it was clear the university and campus management were not only aware of the practices, but refused to act against them, despite available evidence.

“A culture of fear exists at the institution and people do not talk freely.”

Nzimande said it seemed the university’s institutional model had fostered “a largely monocultural environment that appears to be designed mainly for white Afrikaners on the Potchefstroom campus”.

The minister agreed with the report’s recommendations and had asked for feedback on their implementation on a quarterly basis.

The task team that conducted the investigation included SA Human Rights Commission member Leon Wessels, NWU human rights committee chairperson Rehana Rawat, political analyst Somadoda Fikeni, and nuclear power expert Bismark Tyobeka.

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