Marizka Coetzer
Journalist
2 minute read
19 Jun 2021
6:00 am

University of Stellenbosch language storm a matter of ‘miscommunication’

Marizka Coetzer

Earlier this week, the SAHRC heard further submissions on the alleged ban of Afrikaans in residences during the annual welcoming period

Stellenbosch University picture for illustration purposes. Picture: Flckr

The miscommunication about the use of Afrikaans at the University of Stellenbosch during a welcoming at the beginning of the year got lost in translation and resulted in the university answering to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

Earlier this week, the SAHRC heard further submissions on the alleged ban of Afrikaans in residences during the welcoming period at the beginning of the academic year at the university.

Yesterday, Zizo Vakwana, deputy chair of the South African Students Congress (Sasco) in the Western Cape said she was angry when she heard people were complaining about the language policy.

ALSO READ: SAHRC probes ‘ban’ on Afrikaans at Stellenbosch University

“It’s the fairest thing I know,” Vakwana said.

Vakwana, who joined the university in 2017, just after the language policy was introduced, said previously only English and Afrikaans were prioritised.

“I don’t mind learning in English because I have gone to English schools,” Valwama said.

Vakwana said the incident in January, where someone complained and lied about forcing people to speak English, was “not true”.

“You are allowed to speak any language. The only place you can’t speak Afrikaans is where you have activities such as welcoming week where it could exclude someone,” Vakwana explained.

“All activities in residence were English and teaching and learning were in English and Afrikaans,” she added.

Vakwana said she feels the university is trying to accommodate everyone, especially Afrikaans students.

Mariëtha Lemmer, resident head of the Minerva women’s residence, said during her submission when the misunderstandings about the use of language occurred, it was made clear that there was no ban on Afrikaans or any other language.

Lemmer said students from all over South Africa and other countries reside in Minerva.

The university announced on Wednesday there was no evidence of an alleged ban on Afrikaans.

This follows after vice-rector Professor Deresh Ramjugernath said Deloitte was asked for an independent forensic investigation and found that there was no management instruction to prohibit the use of Afrikaans.