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Media Statement: South African Human Rights Commission initiates investigation into alleged prohibition of the use of languages at Stellenbosch University

Thursday, 25 March 2021
Attention: Editors and Reporters

The South African Human Rights Commission (“the Commission” or “SAHRC”) has received a number of complaints alleging that students at the University of Stellenbosch (“SU”) are being prevented from communicating in selected languages. The complaints received relate specifically to the use of Afrikaans. The Commission however seeks to understand the extent of this alleged prohibition.
The ban has allegedly been enforced by prohibiting the use of Afrikaans in private spaces, including residences, bedrooms, digital platforms such as WhatsApp and even on park benches in front of students’ residences.

The Commission is investigating the matter and has written to the Rector and Vice Chancellor of SU, Prof Wim de Villiers, regarding the allegations. The Commission’s investigation at this stage relates to alleged violations of a number of rights, including the right to equality on the basis of language, race or any other prohibited ground. Further particulars will be provided in due course.

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Issued by the South African Human Rights Commission
Gushwell Brooks – Communications Co-ordinator Tel: 082 645 8573 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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