Cape Town - Stellenbosch University has dismissed claims that some recommendations of the recent Justice Khampepe report have been overturned due to political intervention.
The university last month received the report of the independent Khampepe Commission led by retired Justice Sisi Khampepe.
A large part of the report found that black students and staff still felt unwelcome and excluded at the institution.
This was due to some of the residences tending to disproportionately favour Afrikaans cultural practices, and because there was a perceived lack of representation and diversity.
The findings of the report have been criticised by some organisations, saying they were a protest against Afrikaans, white people and Afrikaners.
DA constituency head in Stellenbosch Dr Leon Schreiber said a lawyer's letter was sent to the university rector, Professor Wim de Villiers, shortly after the report was released.
“The letter made it clear that the DA will take legal action if the report’s recommendation on the abolition of Afrikaans is implemented.
“The DA also wrote to the trustees of the Het Jan Marais Fund with the request that all funding be withdrawn from the university if the Khampepe recommendation on Afrikaans is implemented.”
Amid sustained DA pressure, De Villiers reportedly conceded during a meeting that the university’s language policy, in line with the DA’s demands, will not be changed.
“An SU spokesperson apparently confirmed after the meeting that Khampepe’s recommendation on Afrikaans was rejected.
“The DA welcomes this dramatic turnaround as an important breakthrough in our campaign to protect the right to mother tongue education,” said Schreiber.
But the university on Wednesday said its leadership was still reviewing the commission's report and recommendations in detail.
The university said: “Celebratory statements claiming that some recommendations have been overturned due to political intervention are simply incorrect and not in adherence with this code of conduct.
“The prevailing language policy at SU celebrates the creative value of diversity of the speakers of the official languages of instruction used at SU.
“As opposed to reported claims, the Khampepe Commission recommendations deal predominantly with the informal use of the languages and how everyday use should foster greater inclusivity.”
Stellenbosch University added: “SU will promote a more inclusive language approach amongst the informal campus society in the spirit of the university’s values and in line with the SU’s very strong stance against any form of racism or prejudice.
“Claims that SU is adopting biased views against some recommendations due to external influence and pressure are blatantly opportunistic and fuel divisive opinion and undermine the university’s unwavering efforts to foster an inclusive environment.”
Chief secretary of the Afrikanerbond, Jan Bosman, said Justice Khampepe overreached on the mandate to investigate two alleged racism allegations.
“We have expressed reservations about Justice Khampepe’s references and reporting about Afrikaans.
“The language policy is a totally separate issue and unfortunately she overreached on the mandate to investigate two alleged racism allegations.
“This has also placed the US in an impossible situation.
“ Although the SU now gives reassurances again, previous assurances were sidelined.
“Unfortunately Afrikaans is being marginalised and therefore the Afrikaans speaking community of the Western Cape,” said Bosman.