DA alerts SAHRC to Wim de Villiers’ defiance of its SU report

Issued by Dr Leon Schreiber MP – DA Constituency Head: Stellenbosch
16 Mar 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached Afrikaans and English soundbites by Dr Leon Schreiber MP.

In the report released yesterday by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) following a complaint from the Democratic Alliance (DA) over the ban placed on Afrikaans at Stellenbosch University (SU) residences, the Commission’s remedial action proposed that SU rector Wim de Villiers should “issue a written public apology to any students who were negatively affected by the residence policies. This apology must make clear that the Respondent recognises that (a) SU is responsible for the conduct and policies of its Residences and the human rights violations found by the Commission to have been perpetrated herein; and (b) SU undertakes to ensure that residences do not implement any policies or practices in future that will require any student to, or prevent any student from, speaking a particular language in residences.”

Only one day later, and De Villiers has already defied this remedial action, again demonstrating his contempt for the rights of Afrikaans-speaking students whose human rights were violated.

Instead of issuing the apology demanded by the SAHRC, De Villiers posted a mealy-mouthed statement this morning where he claims that “I am on record as having apologised to anyone who may have been negatively affected by these incidences.” He further repeated the same non-apology he originally issued when the ban on Afrikaans first surfaced in 2021: “If there were students who were instructed not to use Afrikaans in a social context, it is wrong.”

The use of terms like “may” and “if” in reference to what are now confirmed, factual, violations of the human rights of Afrikaans students indicate that De Villiers still refuses to acknowledge that these incidents ever happened. The SAHRC reports does not leave this question in doubt. It is a fact that Afrikaans was banned, and human rights were violated, with allegations recorded in the SAHRC that the ban was ongoing in 2023. It is therefore clear that De Villiers refuses to admit that “SU is responsible for the conduct and policies of its Residences and the human rights violations,” as proposed by the SAHRC. By still denying the violations, De Villiers has failed to comply with the Commission’s remedial action and is adding further insult to injury for the victims of his Afrikaans ban.

The DA has already written to the SAHRC to inform the Commission that De Villiers is in contempt of the remedial action directed by this chapter 9 constitutional institution. We have requested the Commission to consider instituting legal action against De Villiers over his defiance. This behaviour also adds further credence to the urgent motion of no confidence that SU council member Dr Leon Schreiber has tabled against De Villiers over the rights abuses.