NWU mulls ‘Nazi’ initiation report

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iol news pic North West University nwu

Johannesburg - A report about an alleged Nazi-style initiation ceremony has been completed and discussed by the North West University's council.

“It was resolved that council needs more time to study the content and recommendations of the report,” university spokesman Louis Jacobs said on Wednesday.

The report follows an investigation into alleged Nazi-style stiff-arm salutes first-year students made during an initiation ceremony at the Potchefstroom campus in February.

Jacobs said at Wednesday's meeting it was resolved the council would further study the report and meet again on June 19 and 20.

The report would be finalised and handed to Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, who asked for the initial investigation.

Jacobs said the team who compiled the report investigated possible “cultural, induction, orientation, initiation and demeaning practices, including acts of fascism and nazism, that seemed to exist at the Potchefstroom Campus under the tacit approval by the university management”.

The team was set up in March this year and asked to investigate whether there was a “culture of intimidation, harassment, fear and purging” against staff and students who tried to stop such practices.

The task team included SA Human Rights Commission member Leon Wessels, NWU human rights committee chairwoman Rehana Rawat, political analyst Somadoda Fikeni, and nuclear power expert Bismark Tyobeka.

In March, Dr Theuns Eloff stepped down as vice-chancellor of the university in the wake of reports about the Nazi salute ceremony. He was replaced by Prof Dan Kgwadi.

In January this year, the university was involved in court action to prevent the Higher Education Transformation Network (HETN) from defaming it.

The HETN had made statements on social media depicting the university as “racists, Nazis, and criminals”.

NWU's senior legal adviser Werner Coetzee told a court the university denied allegations of racism, victimisation, or subscribing to Nazi principles. He said the allegations harmed the university's reputation.

Sapa


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