South Africa 10.2.2018 02:53 pm

Afrikaans residences at University of Pretoria defy request for inclusivity

EFF Student Command members argue with police outside the department
of higher education and training in Pretoria yesterday. They are
protesting because they are unable to register at higher institutions of
learning due to historical debt. Picture: Jacques Nelles

EFF Student Command members argue with police outside the department of higher education and training in Pretoria yesterday. They are protesting because they are unable to register at higher institutions of learning due to historical debt. Picture: Jacques Nelles

The university has decided to exclude students in the residences from all university activities, including the upcoming 1nSync and Rag events.

The management of Sonop and De Goede Hoop residences, the Afrikaans majority-white residences hosting mostly University of Pretoria students, will not make any changes despite allegations they are not inclusive of other races and languages.

A Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities investigation of De Goede Hoop last year found that it was a white-only Afrikaans residence.

It was thus not representative of all the demographics of South African society.

The commission recommended that the residence’s admission committee represent all the demographics of SA society; that the commission should help to appoint members of the admission committee and that the Afrikaans essay as part of the application for residence should be scrapped.

But Kallie Kriel, AfriForum CEO and chairperson of the board of De Goede Hoop, said the commission had exceeded their powers and that the recommendations would not be implemented at the residences.

“It seems that transformation means you have to be exclusively English. “Sonop has a dual language policy,” he added.

University spokesperson Rikus Delport said De Goede Hoop was not registered as a private residence with the university.

The university has decided to exclude students in the residences from all university activities, including the upcoming 1nSync and Rag events.

Regarding this, Kriel said: “We have already started our own rugby tournament and other sports and we are all-inclusive.”

The commission’s investigation was set in motion when social activist Yusuf Abramjee complained in March 2017 that: “The institution’s criteria are intended to exclude members of other races who are not Afrikaans speakers.

“Other than writing an application for residence, each applicant must write an Afrikaans essay wherein the student must state why he or she should be considered.”

Abramjee said only Christian applicants were considered and that the admission criteria did not contribute to nation-building and social cohesion.

Chairperson of the commission Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said they conducted a site inspection on November 24 last year.

They found that “only white people were resident in De Goede Hoop and there was no person of any other colour”.

But Kriel said that at the time of the commission’s visit most of the students in the residence had already gone home for the holiday.

He added: “The commission also just wanted to speak to one coloured student and excluded other students.”

UP urged to condemn new ‘Afrikaans-only’ residence

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