Cape Town - Stellenbosch University’s former Convocation president advocate Jan Heunis, who called for the resignation of SU rector and vice-chancellor Wim de Villiers, is now part of the legal team in front of the Western Cape High Court representing expelled SU student Theuns du Toit over a urination incident.
The matter in court is to challenge Du Toit’s expulsion from the university.
SU’s Disciplinary Appeal Committee found Du Toit, a first-year LLB student at the time of the incident, guilty of misconduct and sanctioned immediate expulsion from the university.
A highly inebriated Du Toit was caught on cellphone footage urinating inside the room and on the belongings of a first-year black student, Babalo Ndwayana, in May last year.
Du Toit urinated on Ndwayana’s study desk, damaging a laptop, textbook and three notebooks.
When Ndwayana asked him to explain his actions, Du Toit reportedly said, “waiting for someone, boy” and when asked why he was urinating on the belongings, he responded with: “It’s a white boy thing.”
Du Toit’s expulsion with immediate effect was in terms of the urination charge and the statement charge.
On July 21, 2022, the university’s Central Disciplinary Committee (CDC) handed down its written judgment in which Du Toit was found guilty of misconduct and ordered that Du Toit be expelled with immediate effect from the university. Additional orders to the expulsion were made.
The incident caused national outrage and prompted several anti-racism protests calling for Du Toit’s immediate expulsion from the university at the time among other demands to address systemic racism within tertiary institutions.
A Change.org petition to SU started on May 16, 2022 garnered over 150 000 signatures calling for Du Toit’s expulsion.
Du Toit was not present in court, but his father, Rudi, was there for the full-day hearing.
For more than an hour, the court’s two judges, Rosheni Allie and Judith Cloete, deliberated over whether to admit a last-minute fourth application brought forward by Du Toit’s legal team.
Heunis said a front-page article by Rapport newspaper published the outcomes of “remarkably similar cases” which were carried before the university’s disciplinary committee.
“I furthermore submit that it is very pertinent to this matter by reason of the similar facts situation, by reason of the fact that you now have a yardstick by which to compare relative to the outcomes in other cases the fairness of the outcome in this case,” Heunis said.
Heunis said the fourth application related to a number of grounds to show “bias, double standards, appropriateness of sanctions, substantive and procedural unfairness, judgments bowing to the dictates of person/institution, ie the university’s rector, and prejudice to the applicant.”
“So what we’re saying is that we’ve all along been saying that the university, for a number of reasons, the university went guns blazing for Mr Theuns du Toit, not so in other similar instances.”
Heunis resigned as president of the Convocation and SU’s council with immediate effect in June this year. This follows motions of no confidence against Heunis and other executive members in the handling of nepotism allegations against De Villiers.
The Convocation Executive Committee, of which Heunis was a part, called for De Villiers’s and the registrar’s resignation without consulting the broader Convocation.
A current look at the executive committee’s profiles on the SU website shows four vacant positions.
In response to the motivation for the fourth affidavit to be admitted, the university’s representative, advocate Jeremy Muller, called the application, a so-called comparative exercise, prejudicial due to the filing at short notice.
“If there is any relevance to these other disciplinary matters, the relevance is so little that that itself is a reason not to admit this affidavit and allow this issue additional now to become part of the application,” Muller said. He added that there was no basis for the submission that the university attempted to suppress other matters.
The fourth application was refused and reasons for this will be given in the main judgment. The matter is expected to continue today.