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Maties racism inquiry a ‘noble idea’, says father of targeted student

28 May 2022 - 10:27
Babalo Ndwayana with his parents Sibongiseni Ndwayana and Mkhuseli Kaduka.
Babalo Ndwayana with his parents Sibongiseni Ndwayana and Mkhuseli Kaduka.

The father of the Stellenbosch University student targeted in a racist incident says the proposed commission of inquiry into racism at the institution is a “noble idea”.

Mkhuseli Kaduka, whose son Babalo Ndwayana has returned to the family home in the Eastern Cape after his laptop and other belongings were urinated on by fellow student Theuns du Toit, said he hoped for “a lasting change to the systematic racism that seems to be happening there”.

Kaduka added: “I think such an inquiry will help other students not to experience what my son has gone through. What happened to him shouldn’t happen to any other child ever again. That is why we are looking for something permanent and lasting.”

He may seem unfazed for now, but we know that there are scars that are not visible
Mkhuseli Kaduka, father of Babalo Ndwayana

The university said this week it will appoint a judge to head the inquiry, which follows a national outcry about the incident in the early hours of May 15 at the Huis Marais residence.

Du Toit faces a disciplinary hearing and he will not be allowed to write his first semester exams next week.

University spokesperson Martin Viljoen said Du Toit had been given 10 working days to respond to the charges he faces, after which the hearing date will be set.

“Dates set for hearings consider all students’ academic responsibilities, including exams. All cases are confidential and a decision on whether the findings will be made public may be considered by the central disciplinary committee,” he said.

Viljoen said the commission of inquiry would be external and independent. “We envisage an inquiry into incidents of racism, to report on and make recommendations to improve a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion.

“This may include a review of our policies, operating procedures and responses to determine any gaps that may exist.

“In addition, Stellenbosch University is creating a reporting hotline for students and staff to report acts of discrimination or violation of rights. These services are additional to existing online, email and walk-in reporting mechanisms of the equality unit.”

Kaduka said he emerged from a meeting with university officials on Monday hopeful that “we could be heading somewhere to change the racist culture” at Stellenbosch.

“They assured me that they will have the commission of inquiry and a hotline, as many people are afraid of reporting incidents of this nature. They also promised to introduce new subjects in their curriculum that discussed race relations. They said they will relook at their language policy as well.”

So far the way the university had dealt with the racist incident involving his son was commendable, “but it should go beyond the rhetoric”. 

Kaduka said his son is resting at the family home in Mdantsane before writing exams next week. “We’ve been surrounding him with lots of support until he gains some sense of normality,” he said.

“From next week he will be starting counselling. He may seem unfazed for now, but we know that there are scars that are not visible.” 

Student representative council (SRC) chair Viwe Kobokana said even though the student body had heard of the proposals, including the commission of inquiry, it had not “engaged on the nitty-gritty”, and would do so after the exams.


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