Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron, left, speaking during a Constitutional Court special ceremonial session to mark his retirement after 25 years as a judge. Itumeleng English African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Stellenbosch University has rejected as “simply unrealistic” allegations that its rector and vice-chancellor Professor Wim de Villiers had attempted to improperly influence retired Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron by offering him the position of university chancellor.

On Sunday, the DA expressed its “shock and dismay” over the reported allegations and called on the university and relevant law enforcement agencies to immediately probe De Villiers.

DA constituency head in Stellenbosch Leon Schreiber said the university had been a respondent in front of the Constitutional Court in the case about its language policy to practically eliminate Afrikaans.

University spokesperson Susan van der Merwe said no individual had the mandate or power to offer any candidate the position of chancellor.

Van der Merwe said that in accordance with the process set out in the statute of Stellenbosch University: “Members of the convocation are requested to nominate candidates according to a specified process.

“All valid nominations are tabled at an electoral college consisting of the members of the university council, the executive committee of senate and the president and deputy president of the convocation.”

She said: “Innuendo in the Afrikaans media that De Villiers had attempted to influence Cameron to find in Stellenbosch University’s favour by offering him the position of chancellor is simply unrealistic.”

Five nominations were received and the electoral college elected Cameron with an outright majority, Van der Merwe said.

Schreiber said that according to reports, De Villiers persisted in his attempts to tempt Cameron with the position of chancellor even after Cameron initially declined.

“It is already outrageous that De Villiers approached Cameron with the offer to become chancellor in the first place while the university was a respondent in a case in front of the Constitutional Court.

“However, what is even more shocking is that De Villiers apparently continued to try and tempt Cameron with the chancellorship even after the justice initially dismissed the offer, before ultimately accepting the offer at De Villiers’ behest,” Schreiber said.

However, Van der Merwe said that according to De Villiers he “definitely” did not interfere with the legal process.

De Villers said: “I am satisfied that I acted in good faith, and that the election followed due process. Cameron’s nomination for chancellor only went ahead with the express written agreement of Gelyke Kanse. This is clearly evident in the correspondence.

“I accepted Cameron’s initial response, that he would not be able to accept the nomination as candidate for the position of the chancellor with regret, yet understanding.

“There was no further correspondence about the matter between us. Only after Cameron had received written confirmation that Gelyke Kanse did not object to him making himself available for the position, did he advise me that he would accept such a nomination.

"Cameron’s integrity is beyond reproach.”


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Cape Argus