Stellenbosch University appoints retired judge Sisi Khampepe to probe racism allegations
The commission is expected to start its work this month.
A general view of Stellenbosch University on 12 June 2020 in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Picture: Gallo Images/Ashley Vlotman
The University of Stellenbosch has appointed retired Constitutional Court justice Sisi Khampepe as commissioner to conduct an independent inquiry into allegations of racism at the university.
Stellenbosch’s vice-chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers, said on Friday that Khampepe would make recommendations to assist the university in improving its culture of diversity, equity and inclusion with reference to racism.
The Commission will consider the following:
- Incidents of racism at the university, with reference to the recent occurrences at Huis Marais and the Faculty of Law’s Law Dance;
- The current state of diversity, equity and inclusion within the university campus culture, with specific reference to racism;
- Given the university’s stance of zero-tolerance towards racism, whether the current structures of the university and its material university policies, rules and processes are sufficient and most effective to address the lived experience of students and staff with regard to racism in all its guises; and
- Related issues and concerns that may arise in the course of the inquiry, including the need for further investigation or consideration of related issues.
According to De Villiers, the commission may receive any evidence that is relevant to its mandate from any person and in a manner determined by the commissioner.
The commission will also conduct the inquiry by means of closed proceedings to encourage participation. The identity, other personal information and evidence of witnesses will be kept confidential, said the university.
It is expected that the commission will commence in the middle of June.
“[Stellenbosch University] takes a zero-tolerance approach to racism, discrimination, prejudice and violence on campus. As communicated before, we want to strengthen existing and are implementing new comprehensive measures to combat such violations and continue to improve those measures on an ongoing basis. The [Stellenbosch University] leadership is sensitive to the well-being of the entire student and staff community and the impact of such incidents on our [Stellenbosch University] community,” said De Villiers.
The university recently made headlines after an incident which saw a white student urinating on a black student’s books and laptop after breaking into his room at the Huis Marais residence.
The white student claimed that this “is what they do to black boys”.
The student has since been suspended as investigations into the incident continue.
In a separate incident, racist remarks were made allegedly toward a female student at the university’s law faculty dance, EWN reported.