Education network to oppose NWU legal challenge

2014-06-19 21:30

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Johannesburg - The Higher Education Transformation Network (HETN) will join planned litigation in the Equality Court by AfriForum regarding transformation at the North West University, it said on Thursday.

"While we condemn and deplore the above-mentioned legal challenge by Afriforum, the Network has resolved to formally join the planned litigation through a request for admission as friend of the court," HETN spokesman Hendrick Makaneta said.

On Wednesday, AfriForum Youth said the North West University's (NWU) council should reject a report into an alleged Nazi-style initiation ceremony.

"The report clearly discriminates against all Afrikaners and may even constitute hate speech," national chair Henk Maree said in a statement at the time.

On Thursday Maree said AfriForum had not seen the report but had read parts of it which were leaked in the media.

The party had a problem with a part of the report which said that the problem at the university was that there was a great amount of white Afrikaners.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande set up a task team to investigate the Nazi-style stiff-arm salutes first-year students allegedly made during an initiation ceremony at the Potchefstroom campus in February.

Task team

The NWU task team was set up in March and asked to investigate whether there was a "culture of intimidation, harassment, fear and purging" against staff and students who tried to stop such practices.

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

Makaneta said they would join the application over concerns about the transformation of higher education at the university.

"As an alumni body advocating for transformation, we view any attempt by any role-player to block the minister of higher education from his constitutionally mandated role of transformation as a desire to perpetuate the status quo of the continued exclusion of qualified black academia."

He said all higher education institutions should distance themselves from associating with "racist groupings" such as AfriForum.

Makaneta said the network would write to the respective parties involved in the litigation for their consent to be admitted as a friend of the court to oppose any legal attempts by AfriForum and its "parent", Solidarity, to undermine the transformation of the NWU and the higher education sector.

"We will further not hesitate to formally approach the Equality Court should our request for consent to admission be denied by the parties.

"We will not rest on our laurels whilst racists are plying their trade in higher education," Makaneta said.

Read more on:    afriforum  |  johannesburg  |  education

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