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

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Stellenbosch university's campus.
Stellenbosch university's campus.
Getty Images
  • The DA has accused University of Stellenbosch Vice-Chancellor Wim de Villiers of failing to provide clear answers on discrimination against Afrikaans students.
  • De Villiers appeared before the SA Human Rights Commission on Monday, as part of an inquiry into allegations of the prohibition of the use of Afrikaans.
  • De Villiers denied there was an "English only" policy on campus.

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) convened an inquiry into alleged violations of a number of rights, including the right to equality on the basis of language and race, which began on Monday.

An inquiry into allegations of discrimination against Afrikaans-speaking students at Stellenbosch University heard that a 2015 comment made by rector and Vice-Chancellor Wim de Villiers around anglicising the university is not relevant to the current probe.

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) convened an inquiry into alleged violations of a number of rights, including the right to equality on the basis of language and race, which commenced on Monday.

The probe followed complaints that students were being prohibited from speaking Afrikaans in private spaces, including residences, bedrooms, on WhatsApp, and on park benches in front of students' residences.

READ | Is Stellenbosch University phasing out Afrikaans? 12 questions with rector

Before the commission on Monday were allegations that De Villiers had supported the full anglicisation of the university in correspondence in 2015.

De Villiers did not answer to the allegations, with SU making representations that personal remarks made several years ago were not relevant to the inquiry into language use at residences and the university's language policy.

The DA had brought the complaint before the SAHRC. In a statement, DA spokesperson Leon Schreiber said: "Although De Villiers brought ten lawyers and officials with him to the trial, he still flatly refused to provide answers about the systemic discrimination against Afrikaans students caused by the current language policy."


He added that De Villiers' silence spoke volumes, and served as an "indirect confirmation that he is on an ideological war to abolish Afrikaans education altogether".

The DA would also testify before the commission, said Schreiber.

De Villiers in his testimony said the university had not banned Afrikaans on campus, adding that the university's language policy was intended to be inclusive.

"The suggestion that students across campus as a matter of university policy have been prevented from speaking Afrikaans is false," said De Villiers.

"There is not a ban on Afrikaans."

According to its policy, language must be used in a way that does not exclude anyone from taking part in formal activities. He added that this often meant English was used in formal settings to accommodate new students in residences.

In the coming weeks, the SAHRC is expected to host sessions with complainants and interested parties.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Voting Booth
When and why would you have your or your partner's sperm count checked?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
That's an unnecessary procedure
17% - 985 votes
As soon as we decide to start a family
7% - 439 votes
Only if we're struggling to conceive
76% - 4533 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo