Stellenbosch University in hot water after racism video goes viral

 ·26 Aug 2015

The Stellenbosch University management is expected to appear in Parliament to table their transformation plans to the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training.

The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training took a decision on Tuesday during their meeting to call the Stellenbosch University management to an urgent meeting in light of the latest allegations of racism and violence at the institution.

Committee Chairperson Yvonne Phosa said they have noted with serious concern the allegations of racism and violence at the Stellenbosch University and warned that 21 years into democratic South Africa, such alleged acts have no place in society.

Phosa urged the university’s management to swiftly deal with the allegations.

“We are aware that there are some measures that the university has put in place to ensure that there is transformation at Stellenbosch University and that the institution becomes socially inclusive.

“But such efforts have to be speed up to ensure that allegations such as those revealed in the Luister video are dealt with and do not rear their ugly head again in future. It is one thing to talk about plans which are on paper but we would like to see those plans being implemented,” said Phosa.

The Luister video, which was released in August, is a documentary distributed via social media which shows how students are allegedly still exposed to the dehumanising experiences of racism and other forms of discrimination. It is a series of interviews with students who talk about their personal accounts of race-based discrimination and even violence at the university.

She noted that the issue of transformation at Stellenbosch University has been on the Committee’s agenda and they were supposed to have had an oversight visit to the institution in July but this was cancelled due to a number of factors on the university’s side.

“What we are clear on is that we cannot have a situation whereby a public university’s language policy serves as a barrier that ultimately shuts out some students from accessing higher education and training opportunities,” she said.

Phosa also reassured the students and staff members who are victims of the alleged racism and violence at the university that “as a committee, we will certainly not only listen to their outcry but we will ensure that concrete action is taken to address the issues raised and ensure that they work and learn in an environment characterised by social cohesion.

“While we acknowledge that Afrikaans speaking students have a right to be taught in the language they prefer, we also want to state that it is of paramount importance to recognise that any other student at the university has the right to access higher education in a language they are conversant with”.

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