Nzimande waiting for a report on Wilgenhof male student residence incident

Stellenbosch University’s Wilgenhof residence. Picture: Ruan Belligan/Facebook

Stellenbosch University’s Wilgenhof residence. Picture: Ruan Belligan/Facebook

Published Mar 7, 2024


Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said his department was awaiting a report from Stellenbosch University following reports of an incident of alleged institutionalised racism and discrimination at the Wilgenhof male residence.

“As the department we asked for a report from the university on these instances. The department has established that the university appointed a panel comprising an advocate from the Cape Bar, the deputy registrar for governance, ethics and compliance, and a former university executive, with the hope they will complete and submit to the department as well,” Nzimande said.

“We followed through on the commitment and we await a response from the university,” he said, replying to oral questions in the National Assembly.

Nzimande said before the Wilgenhof incident the department sent a delegation led by director-general Nkosinathi Sishi to engage senior management of the university to address issues of racism and discrimination.

“It is our policy as this ANC government that we will not tolerate any incident of racism, patriarchal practices and any other forms of discrimination.”

He added that they had followed up on the issue of language because certain languages were used as instruments of exclusion, especially of the black majority.

“We respect all South African languages but none must be used as the basis for discrimination and we are monitoring this.

“We have asked each institution develop its own transformation charter within the overall policies of the department.”

Nzimande said his department was working with universities, in particular where problems like those found at Stellenbosch had been identified.

“We have agreed that they must run diversity workshops, among other things, for staff, workers and academics and also for students.

“We are also working with the Human Rights Commission, whose mandate is to promote respect for human rights, culture of human rights and dignity.”

The minister said he and Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga needed to do more work to teach history at schools as some behaved as if there had never been apartheid nor racism.

Nzimande dismissed a suggestion that he was intervening at historically disadvantaged institutions.

“It is not true,” he said.

He said his department had intervened at the University of Free State when white students forced black domestic workers to drink urine.

Asked about the progress of the reopening and registration period in the post-schooling and education sector, Nzimande said all 27 universities had commenced with registrations.

“Most paid book allowances to students after receiving R2.872 billion from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme in January.”

Most universities had reported that they were in the process of paying allowance for food allowances and accommodation after having received further allowances.

He said there were 1.2 million provisionally funded students from NSFAS for 2024, as at March 4.

“NSFAS is processing (the) loan scheme we introduced for missing middle students to fund an estimated 31800 students.”

Nzimande said terms and conditions for the loan scheme had been published by NSFAS.

“You sign acknowledgement of debt and your loan only starts to accumulate interest a year after you have completed your qualification, not before that,” the minister said.

Cape Times