DA welcomes announcement that Stellenbosch University will be defunded if Afrikaans is abolished.
DA welcomes announcement that Stellenbosch University will be defunded if Afrikaans is abolished. Image Credit: www.da.org.za

Immediately following the publication of Stellenbosch University’s (SU) Khampepe report – which equated the Afrikaans language with racism and urged its total abolition – the Democratic Alliance (DA) wrote a letter to Het Jan Marias Fonds, which is the founding donor of the university.

This fund is divided into two trusts: one of which is managed by SU itself, and the other by a private board of trustees. In response to the DA’s letter, the second of these trusts has, for the very first time, publicly committed that – as per the last will and testament of Jannie Marais – its donations to the university “would definitely dry up if SU is anglicised”.

The DA said it welcomes this decisive response to the crisis triggered by the « sloppy, anecdotal and insulting Khampepe report ». This report recommends the abolition of Afrikaans based apparently on 22 voluntary submissions and a single interview with a bona fide witness.

« This means that over 8 000 Afrikaans students at SU are to be deprived of their constitutional right to mother-tongue education based on the inputs of only 0.07% of the university’s 33 000 students, » Dr Leon Schreiber  – DA Constituency Head: Stellenbosch – said in a statement on Friday.

The money left to SU by Jannie Marais was explicitly made conditional upon Afrikaans never having “a lesser place” at the university compared to any other official language, according to the DA.

As the trustees make clear in their response to the DA, the contract stipulates that “the trustees must end this donation to SU and reassign the money to a similar institution if SU can no longer fulfil this goal”, said Schreiber.

The announcement that SU will be defunded is an unprecedented step forward in the quest to « protect and elevate South Africa’s indigenous languages against the onslaught of those who wish to reduce our beautiful diversity into monolingualism. We thank the trustees for upholding the country’s constitutional commitment to multilingualism – unlike SU’s Khampepe report, » said Schreiber.

With a public undertaking by one of the two trusts secured, the DA will now submit a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) request to SU management to find out the names of the people who manage the second trust.

« It is concerning that the private trustees of the Het Jan Marais Fonds do not even know who manages the other portion of SU’s founding donation.

« The DA will unearth this information and proceed to apply relentless pressure on these donors to also ensure that the founding provisions of SU’s commitment to Afrikaans are upheld.

« We repeat our call on Rector Wim de Villiers to publicly reject the Khampepe report’s recommendation to abolish Afrikaans, or we will go to court to overturn it, » said Schreiber.