Stellenbosch-University Afrikaans mother tongue education
Photo: FB / Stellenbosch University

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) announced today that it will investigate the Democratic Alliance’s complaint against the management of Stellenbosch University (SU), led by rector and vice-chancellor Wim de Villiers, following alleged human rights violations against Afrikaans-speaking students.

The SAHRC will investigate whether the university language policy’s prohibition on the use of Afrikaans – including in “private spaces, bedrooms, digital platforms like Whatsapp and even on park benches in front of students’s residences” – violated a number of Constitutional rights, “including the right to equality on the basis of language, race or any other prohibited ground.”

The DA filed the charges with the SAHRC last week.

“Our complaint was accompanied by affidavits submitted by various students, which indicated that the ban on Afrikaans extended to at least four different residences across both the Stellenbosch and Tygerberg campuses of SU,” said Dr Leon Schreiber – DA Constituency Head: Stellenbosch

“Our complaint also asked the SAHRC to investigate the extent to which the university’s 2016 language policy – which abolished Afrikaans as an equal language alongside English – encouraged or otherwise incentivised the alleged human rights violations.”

The DA also called for South Africans to sign its petition to reject the university‘s first draft of its revises language policy; and called on Wim de Villiers and university chancellor, Edwin Cameron, to break their “disturbing silence on these disgraceful violations of the right to mother-tongue education”.

“Instead of waiting for the SAHRC investigation, the university management should publicly apologise for the prohibition on Afrikaans, and immediately restart the process to review the language policy with the explicit aim of guaranteeing equal status to Afrikaans and English,” said Dr Schreiber in a statement.