Stellenbosch University dismisses Theuns du Toit’s appeal

Theuns du Toit has failed to have his expulsion from Stellenbosch University (SU) lifted after the institution’s independent disciplinary appeals committee (DAC) concluded to uphold the initial ruling that he be expelled permanently.

Du Toit, who was expelled in July after he committed a racial offence against fellow student Babalo Ndwayana, approached the DAC and argued that his expulsion is not an apt injunction.

However, in a 37-page ruling that Sunday World has seen, the committee maintains that the ruling was appropriate and justified. The DAC said it is in agreement with the university’s central disciplinary committee (CDC) to expel Du Toit.

“Therefore, we are of the view, like the CDC, that the conduct of Mr Du Toit in charge two [urination charge] undoubtedly assailed the human dignity, integrity and security of Mr Ndwayana. It was deeply humiliating, degrading and also destructive of Mr Ndwayana’s property,” read the ruling by the DAC.

“Accordingly, we conclude that a finding of guilt on charge two was on its own sufficient to justify the sanction of expulsion. It is not the conduct that must be countenanced by any community, let alone a university community.

“We, therefore, take the view that even if we are wrong on the outcome of charge three [statement charge], the sanction of expulsion was not shockingly inappropriate and completely disproportionate to the offence, the offender and the interests of the university community. It is also not a sanction that fails to take into account the purposes of the code in clause two, and the considerations in clauses 37.11 and 37.12 of the code.

“Expulsion is appropriate and permissible in an appropriate case under clauses 2, 37.11 and 37.12 of the code. We agree with the CDC that this is an appropriate case for expulsion. For these reasons, the appeal against the sanction of expulsion also falls to be dismissed.”

The serious offence

Du Toit, a first-year law student at the time of his expulsion, was caught in a compromising position in May when he was captured on video entering Babalo Ndwayana’s Huis Marais room in the early hours of a Sunday morning and urinating on his study desk.

Asked by Ndwayana why he was doing that, Du Toit is said to have responded: “This is what we do to black boys.”

Ndwayana filmed the incident and the footage went viral on social media. Calls soon followed for Du Toit to be expelled from the university. He was suspended from the institution and expelled from his residence.

Ndwayana initially forgave him, but with pressure from his father and many South Africans, he laid criminal charges against Du Toit. However, the charges were later withdrawn after the two students attended a mediation session.

Disciplinary hearing

In June, the university said a disciplinary hearing had been concluded, and noted that the institution strongly condemns any form of racism, discrimination or other prejudice.

“Human dignity is non-negotiable at Stellenbosch University and must be respected and upheld. When such dignity is affected, it must be restored following due process, the rule of law, and the full extent to which the constitution protects the rights of all in our country. There is no place for racism or victimisation of any kind at SU,” read the university statement at the time.

The university added that the CDC found Du Toit guilty of contravening various clauses of the disciplinary code for students, one of which being that “a student shall not act in a manner that is racist, unfairly discriminatory, violent, grossly insulting, abusive or intimidating against any other person”.

Du Toit was also found guilty of contravening the amended residence rules.

“These findings led the CDC to conclude that there is no alternative but to expel Mr Du Toit with immediate effect from the university,” said the university management.

Misfortunes happened in rapid succession for Du Toit when the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) confirmed in October that it planned to prosecute him for malicious damage to property and crimen injuria.

“Yes, I can confirm that the NPA has decided that he must be prosecuted on malicious damage to property and crimen injuria, but gave instructions that the investigation must be finalised before the matter is placed on the [court] roll,” NPA provincial spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said at the time.

Racism at Stellenbosch University 

Du Toit’s appeal came shortly after Justice Sisi Khampepe released her report wherein the university was found slacking.

The report suggests that the university is fraught with a toxic culture at its residences caused by ancient racial scars and beliefs that have been neglected for far too long, which now bleed on the younger generation.

Khampepe, who was appointed to probe allegations of racism at the institution, made recommendations regarding the toxic culture and the university’s language policies, notwithstanding the need for greater change in leadership.

She suggested that the university revises its language policy to eliminate chances of language exclusion through the preference for Afrikaans. The university is still studying Khampepe’s report.

Racism claims are not rare at SU and the university is making impressive theoretical strides toward transformation.

In May, Sunday World reported that it had dealt with 42 cases of racism/discrimination between 2016 and 2021 after its spokesperson, Martin Viljoen, laid bare measures put in place to prevent racial exclusion and to ensure transformation.

Viljoen said the university is guided by its Vision 2040 and values which include excellence, compassion, equity, respect, and accountability.

He said: “The equality unit looks at various categories of transgressions. In terms of alleged discrimination, there were three cases in 2016; 16 in 2017; 13 in 2017; three in 2019; seven in 2020, and 0 in 2021 – with varying outcomes.

“There have been no dismissals of staff for racism or race-related conduct in the last five years [2017-2021]. With regard to students, only one student was expelled in 2017.”

He added, however, that the institution takes “a zero-tolerance approach to racism, discrimination, prejudice, and violence on campus”.

“As communicated before, we want to strengthen existing and implement new comprehensive measures to combat such violations and continue to improve those measures on an ongoing basis.

“The Stellenbosch University leadership is sensitive to the wellbeing of the entire student and staff community, and the impact of such incidents on our university community.”

Also read: NPA to prosecute expelled Stellies student Theuns du Toit

Racist Theuns du Toit expelled from Stellenbosch University

Khampepe report ‘a sobering moment’ for Stellenbosch University

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