Court confirms that Wim de Villiers and Stellenbosch University management broke the law

Please find attached a soundbite by Dr Leon Schreiber MP. 

The Western Cape High Court today confirmed that the management of Stellenbosch University (SU), led by rector Wim de Villiers, broke the law by trying to keep information of critical public importance secret. The court order, which was handed down by judge Robert Henney, confirmed that the SU’s refusal to comply with a request under the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) was “unlawful and in violation of the provisions of PAIA.”

The court further ordered the SU to comply with the PAIA request within five days by handing over all records relating to De Villiers’ alleged improper contact with retired judge Edwin Cameron during the court case about the abolition of Afrikaans as a primary language of teaching, alongside English, to the DA’s constituency head in Stellenbosch and SU-alumnus, Dr Leon Schreiber. The court further ordered that the university must pay the DA’s legal costs for the application. 

Today’s court order is another victory in the DA’s ongoing quest for justice regarding the events that took place during the Constitutional Court case about the abolition of Afrikaans as a primary and equal language of instruction alongsideEnglish as the SU. The DA however derives no joy from seeing the SU descend into a swamp of unprincipled mismanagement. We remain determined to get to the bottom of what happened during the court case that robbed thousands of Afrikaans students of their right to mother tongue education precisely because the DA has such high regard for what the SU says it strives to be – a fully multilingual beacon of excellence. 

While the DA resolutely continues the fight for justice, members of the SU community as well as all students whose language rights were disregarded in the process, ought to demand answers from the SU management about their illegal conduct. 

Why did De Villiers and his management team knowingly break the law? And why did De Villiers have so little respect for the rights of Afrikaans students that he was apparently comfortable with conducting secret conversations with Cameron while the fate of mother tongue education hung in the balance? In the end, De Villiers will be accountable to the Maties community as they decide whether they are comfortable with such conduct. 

The DA looks forward to closely studying the evidence against De Villiers. Based on what it contains, we will take further steps to ensure that the right to mother tongueeducation does not get further trampled by the university management’s petty power games. The DA remains absolutely committed to the principle that Afrikaans deserves an equal place alongside English as a primary language of instruction at SU, and we will keep fighting until the constitutional right to mother tongue education is finally respected by Stellenbosch University.

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