The Democratic Alliance (DA) is shocked and dismayed to learn of the allegations against the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University (SU), Professor Wim de Villiers. According to media reports, De Villiers allegedly attempted to improperly influence former Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron by offering him the position of Chancellor at SU while the university was a respondent in front of the court in the case about its language policy to practically eliminate Afrikaans from the university.
According to media reports, De Villiers persisted in his attempts to tempt Cameron with the position of Chancellor even after Cameron initially declined the inappropriate offer. In response to De Villiers’ initial offer, Cameron wrote: “Even now I am surrounded by documentation in the case that we are hearing next week, and no matter which way I go, my position in judging the case would be hopelessly compromised if I accepted the nomination. My position as a nominee would likely equally come under justified suspicion while the case is still pending.”
It is already outrageous that De Villiers approached Cameron with the offer to become Chancellor in the first place while the SU was a respondent in a case in front of the Constitutional Court. However, what is even more shocking is that De Villiers apparently continued to try and tempt Cameron with the Chancellorship even after the Justice initially dismissed the offer, before ultimately accepting the offer at De Villiers’ behest. De Villiers’ conduct creates the extremely worrying impression that the Rector of SU sought to abuse his power to appoint the Chancellor in an attempt to improperly influence a Justice of the Constitutional Court.
The DA calls on the SU and relevant law enforcement agencies to immediately launch an investigation into De Villiers’ alleged conduct. Universities are extremely important institutions in our society, and it is non-negotiable that their leaders must at all times be seen to be above reproach. At the same time, no person is above the law and De Villiers should be called to account for his alleged conduct.