SAHRC probe into alleged ban on Afrikaans at Stellenbosch University to resume

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Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University, Prof. Wim de Villiers during the Human Rights Commissions hearing on the university's language policy.
Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University, Prof. Wim de Villiers during the Human Rights Commissions hearing on the university's language policy.
Jaco Marais/Gallo Images/Die Burger
  • The SAHRC will meet with Afrikaans interest groups as it resumes its inquiry into claims of a ban on the use of Afrikaans at Stellenbosch University.
  • Vice-Chancellor Wim de Villiers previously denied that there was an "English-only" policy on campus.
  • The DAK Netwerk, Studenteplein, FF+ leader Dr Pieter Groenewald and representatives of the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch are expected to testify.

The SA Human Rights Commission's (SAHRC) inquiry into the alleged prohibition of Afrikaans at Stellenbosch University (SU) is scheduled to reconvene on Monday, with Afrikaans interest groups expected to state their case.

Among those expected to testify are the DAK Netwerk, an organisation established with the aim of providing a structural basis for the development of Afrikaans in previously disadvantaged communities, student organisation Studenteplein, FF+ leader Dr Pieter Groenewald and representatives of the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch.

The SAHRC is following up complaints regarding the alleged violation of a number of rights, including the right to equality on the basis of language and race.

READ HERE | Wim de Villiers' personal remarks on anglicisation 'not relevant', Stellenbosch Uni tells inquiry

This came after it received complaints that students were being prohibited from speaking Afrikaans in private spaces, including residences, bedrooms, on WhatsApp and on park benches in front of student residences.

University representatives previously denied a ban on Afrikaans. They told News24 students should not be prohibited from speaking any language, but that student leaders in residences mostly used English in formal settings to ensure that crucial information was understood as "... not everyone is multilingual, but everyone can at least understand English".

According to SU, it instituted an independent probe into what it called the incorrect application of its language policy.

OPINION | Stellenbosch language debate: A response to Leon Schreiber 

During the first leg of the hearings, rector and Vice-Chancellor Wim de Villiers reiterated his denial that Afrikaans was banned on the campus, saying the institution's approach to language meant "... students have more choices, broader access and a better future as a result".

De Villiers said the institution was an "inclusive, multilingual university", denying an English-only policy.

Representatives of the university's residences are expected to address the commission on Tuesday.

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