North-West University in denial about fascist culture, says education department

2014-02-25 13:28

The North-West University’s Potchefstroom campus has a fascist culture but its management is in denial about it, the higher education department has said.

This follows media reports that students at the Potchefstroom campus were forced to perform the “Heil Puk”, a Nazi-style fascist salute.

Read: Student salute isn’t a Nazi salute, says North-West University vice-chancellor

Addressing the media in Pretoria, the department’s director-general, Gwebs Qonde, said there would be serious consequences for racism and fascism. “There are going to be serious consequences. It’s not a matter that we take lightly. Fascism cannot be allowed to manifest in South Africa. It’s against humanity and it’s abhorred across the world.”

A visibly angry Qonde said the university’s management was in denial. “The management is in denial about its fascist culture. It’s part of the problem we need to address. There is a pattern of continued denials.”

It was not the first time that the university was involved in scandalous conduct, he said. In 2008, then education minister Naledi Pandor had appointed a task team to investigate if the merger of the different campuses at the university were progressing smoothly. The team, Qonde said, found racist practices in certain residences. “At the time, the university rejected the findings of the task team.”

Two years ago, Thabang Makhoang drowned in what was labelled a “team building exercise” and a “cultural event”. The department requested the university to probe Makhoang’s death, said Qonde, adding that he was not happy with the report produced by the institution.

A year ago, the institution dismissed Dr Ingrid Tufvesson, its executive director of transformation and diversity management. This, according to Qonde, was after she had questioned the university’s transformation policies.

He said these practices are proof that there are problems at the university. Yesterday, the institution provided the department with a report of the initiation ceremony. Although the department was still studying the report, Qonde said it would appear that the university’s management is just trying to explain the incident away and dismiss it as a harmless cultural activity.

“We are not playing on this matter. And there will be serious consequences. They are just trying to explain themselves out of this report. There are no plans to transform the campus,” he said.

He said the department would not tolerate any unconstitutional activities at university campuses.

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