Professor Dan Kgwadi was appointed as the first black vice-chancellor at NWU and was scheduled to take over from Dr Theuns Eloff from June 1. However, Eloff announced that he had decided to step down and Kgwadi will take over on April 1.
“I believe I will be able to move the university forward,” Kgwadi said as the university’s council addressed the media in Pretoria yesterday. “I am confident I’ll learn Afrikaans and I do believe
I understand all our challenges,” he said.
He added that other languages could learn from Afrikaans because it was the only indigenous tongue practised on an academic level.
Kgwadi did his degree on the Mafikeng campus and his PhD at the Potchefstroom campus, and said because he has been a student himself, he would be able to associate with all of the university’s students and assist in overcoming any cultural divides.
Eloff said he was not jumping ship but stepping aside “for another captain to take over”.
“It is time that he takes over,” Eloff said, adding that he believed the university had made major strides in the past few years but admitted that they “are not yet there”.
He said he knows Kgwadi will be up for the job. “I have full confidence in him,” he said.
The NWU council also announced that an independent team would be appointed to assess initiation practices and other activities at the university and make recommendations.
The university was shoved into the spotlight earlier this year when some of its initiation programmes were brought into question. Subsequently, three members of residence house committees were expelled and the university is now investigating the cases.
In February, Beeld newspaper published a photograph of first-years doing a Nazi-style salute which caused an uproar in the department of higher education and among the public.
Peet van der Walt of the university’s council said there was not a fascist culture on campus. “It was never the intention to cause harm but these actions did. We again apologise profusely. It was a breach of human rights even if it was not attended as such,” he said.
He said “heil” is a greeting in Afrikaans. – firstname.lastname@example.org