Stellenbosch University vice-chancellor Wim de Villiers apologises publicly

The leadership of Stellenbosch University has broken the silence and apologised publicly for the “racial incident” that attracted widespread condemnation.

Early on Sunday morning, first-year agricultural studies student Babalo Ndwayana was woken up by a strange noise in his room. When he switched on the lights, he was surprised to find Theuns du Toit, a first-year law student, urinating on his personal belongings including a laptop and books.

Du Toit is a friend to another student who shares the room with Ndwayana. Asked by Ndwayana why he was behaving in that manner, Du Toit is reported to have answered: “This is what we do to black boys.”

In a YouTube video, rector and vice-chancellor professor Wim de Villiers said Stellenbosch University has zero tolerance for racism, labelling the incident as destructive and hurtful.

“I am truly sorry about the pain caused by the incident, and I take this opportunity to assure you of the university’s commitment that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated on our campus,” said De Villiers, noting that the university’s main priority is to provide an inclusive environment for all its students.”

De Villiers added that the university values respect, compassion, equity, accountability, and excellence in all its activities.

“The student captured on the video was already suspended from the university on Monday morning and excluded from the Huis Marais residence [where the incident took place]. This suspension will remain in place until the investigation, which is currently under way, is completed.

“The final outcome [expected in the next few days] must pave the way to avoid any repeat of any similar breaches of the right to personal human dignity in the future on the Stellenbosch University campus.”

On Tuesday, Ndwayana made a sharp U-turn and laid charges against Du Toit, having earlier in the day said that he forgave his tormentor. The charges relate to racism, malicious damage to property, and housebreaking. He also wants Du Toit expelled.

By late on Tuesday, a students’ petition calling for Du Toit’s expulsion had garnered more than 20 000 signatures.

ActionSA joined a chorus of condemnation of the incident, saying the students should make it hard for oppressors to continue doing their work.

Party leader Herman Mashaba said on Tuesday: “We call upon students at universities across the country to stand up for one another and help create environments across campuses that make it difficult for those who seek to have us regress to pre-1994 conditions by their appalling behaviours.”

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