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Parliament committee welcomes suspension of Stellenbosch student

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THE Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Innovation has commended the suspension of a Stellenbosch University student, who was filmed urinating on the belongings of a fellow student.

The incident was captured in a cell phone video. It took place at the Huis Marais residence on the university campus in the early hours of Sunday morning. The video depicts a white student, who broke into a black student’s room, urinating on the latter’s belongings.

The committee has condemned the act of racism and discrimination, and directed the university leadership, led by Vice Chancellor Professor Wim de Villiers, to ensure that all due disciplinary processes are followed in addressing this dehumanising and totally unacceptable behaviour.

“The committee visited the University of Stellenbosch on 16 February 2022 to receive a briefing on the institution’s transformation journey thus far. This incident qualifies the committee’s concern regarding the institution’s state of transformation,” said committee chairperson, Nompendulo Mkhatshwa.

The committee also noted the call made by the university’s Student Representative Council (SRC) for overt acts of racism and discrimination to be addressed institutionally.

It also called upon the university to conclude its investigation of the incident with speed and make its findings public to reassure the country that it strives for an inclusive student community.

“Justice must prevail for the affected student and the committee charges the university to ensure that they receive the mental health care they need, considering the loathsome ordeal they experienced. 

“The committee calls upon the management of the University of Stellenbosch, the SRC and the student community to forge alliances to build a non-racial and inclusive institution,” Mkhatshwa said.

She added that the committee would engage with the university leadership and the Department of Higher Education and Training on this matter.

De Villiers said the residence management strongly condemned the incident and has taken steps to manage the repercussions in the residence.

“We are appalled by this type of behaviour [and] such conduct will not be tolerated at the university. We acted swiftly and decisively to uphold our commitment to a culture of inclusivity.

“What happened at Huis Marais is not acceptable. No student has the right to diminish another student’s human dignity or rights in this way,” De Villiers said. 

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