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SAHRC probe into alleged ban on Afrikaans at Stellenbosch University to resume

14 June 2021

The SA Human Rights Commission's (SAHRC) inquiry into the alleged prohibition of Afrikaans at Stellenbosch University (SU) is scheduled to reconvene on Monday, with Afrikaans interest groups expected to state their case
Among those expected to testify are the DAK Netwerk, an organisation established with the aim of providing a structural basis for the development of Afrikaans in previously disadvantaged communities, student organisation Studenteplein, FF+ leader Dr Pieter Groenewald and representatives of the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch.

The SAHRC is following up complaints regarding the alleged violation of a number of rights, including the right to equality on the basis of language and race.

This came after it received complaints that students were being prohibited from speaking Afrikaans in private spaces, including residences, bedrooms, on WhatsApp and on park benches in front of student residences.

University representatives previously denied a ban on Afrikaans. They told News24 students should not be prohibited from speaking any language, but that student leaders in residences mostly used English in formal settings to ensure that crucial information was understood as "... not everyone is multilingual, but everyone can at least understand English".

According to SU, it instituted an independent probe into what it called the incorrect application of its language policy.

During the first leg of the hearings, rector and Vice-Chancellor Wim de Villiers reiterated his denial that Afrikaans was banned on the campus, saying the institution's approach to language meant "... students have more choices, broader access and a better future as a result".

De Villiers said the institution was an "inclusive, multilingual university", denying an English-only policy.

Representatives of the university's residences are expected to address the commission on Tuesday.

Source: News24

The South African Human Rights Commission.

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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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