Private residence must scrap Afrikaans essay for prospective residents - Commission

2018-02-07 18:01
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Johannesburg – The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) recommended that a private student residence in Pretoria scrap the writing of an Afrikaans essay that is part of the application process for prospective residents.

CRL Rights Commission chairperson Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said the commission received a complaint from activist Yusuf Abramjee about the De Goede Hoop residence in March last year.

Abramjee alleged that each resident applicant had to write an Afrikaans essay stating why they should be considered for a spot.

He claimed that the admission criteria were intended to exclude other races based on language and that only Christian applicants were considered.

Abramjee told the commission that the residence did not promote social cohesion.

After receiving the complaint, the commission organised a meeting between the complainant and the respondent to discuss the complaint and its impact.

'Skewed perception'

AfriForum CEO Carl Kriel submitted an affidavit disputing Abramjee's claims.

Kriel said the residence was a private institution supplying accommodation to students based on a needs assessment.

"All students, irrespective of race or gender, that want to be in an environment where Afrikaans is the main language and Christianity is the main religion are considered."  

He said the residence promoted the rights of people who wanted to live in an environment where they could practice a shared language, religion and culture.

Kriel also said: "The complaint is based on a skewed perception of the content of the specific rights. Space must be provided for the freedom of cultural, religious and linguistic communities in order to promote a spirit of tolerance, acceptance, mutual respect and diversity."

He said one English-speaking student and another who was a member of the Zion Christian Church had previously resided at De Goede Hoop Residence.

A site visit was conducted on November 24 and the commission found that only white people lived at the residence.

Ruling 'flimsy'

Among other things, the commission also recommended that the residence accommodate people of all races.

Responding to the recommendations, Abramjee said: "I am delighted that the commission ruled in my favour and that it was wrong to only have an Afrikaans residence.

"We cannot allow, 24 years into our democracy, any form of discrimination or discrimination in disguise. I look forward to seeing South Africans of all races being admitted at the residence," he said.

Attorney for the residence, Willie Spies, said the ruling appeared flimsy.

Spies has requested the records of the proceedings from the commission for him to establish whether there is a rational link between the evidence, the complaint, the law and the facts, he said.

"Based on that we will make a decision on further action.

"At no stage has a single person been excluded from residing at De Goede Hoop based on their race, language or religion. That underpins why we are saying the ruling appears to be flimsy. The ruling is not supported by facts or by law."

* The article has been updated since it was first published to indicate that the residence has no affiliation in any way to the University of Pretoria. We apologise for the error.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  education

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