Former Wilgenhoffers are silent about ‘horrific departure’ in residence


Former and current residents of Stellenbosch University’s (SU) Wilgenhof residence seemed to have moved closer to the oldest men’s residence in the town on Friday after “items” were found in two rooms which are believed to be of a “serious nature”.

The SU said in a statement earlier this week that it “undertook an audit of spaces and facilities at the Wilgenhof residence” and during this audit the items were found.

The university did not release any further details about the nature of the items.

However, News24 reported that graphic images, sketches and written descriptions of “punishment” inflicted in this residence are among the items found behind the locked doors of Wilgenhof residence. Reference was also made to the “horrific abuse” to which some of the residents were subjected.

RNews approached several former residents for comment about the items and their purpose, but the requests were repeatedly firmly turned down.

“It’s safer that way,” said one of the former residents.

While the university did not elaborate on exactly what was found in the residence, SU did say that during the audit staff came across items in two rooms in the residence that “need to be studied to understand their nature and context before a decision is made about what further steps are needed”.

Prof. Deresh Ramjugernath, vice-chancellor of learning and teaching at SU, says a team has been set up to “study the items” and “make recommendations to the executive management about appropriate steps in dealing with the matter”.

According to News24, the Wilgenhof alumni association said in response to SU’s statement that the items “were found in an archive spanning a period of more than 100 years”.

“The content forms part of Wilgenhof’s history and has therefore been preserved.

“As is often the case with historical artifacts, some of the content may offend or be misunderstood if not explained in the correct historical context,” the letter said.

“We contacted SU and offered to provide the necessary historical context in this regard. However, we have not seen the items and therefore cannot fully comment on the content.”

RNews has sent an inquiry to this organization, but is still waiting for a response.

Photos obtained by News24 from a reliable source show some of the contents of the rooms in the residence. Although it is not clear when some of the photos were taken, or how old some of the items are, it nevertheless painted a dark picture.

There were photos, names, signatures and descriptions with the exact dates of what happened in the room and when.

Many ex-Maties have meanwhile referred to the so-called “mystery” that has always hung over Wilgenhof residence.

“I was at one of Wilgenhof’s sister residences and the one thing that has always been true about Wilgenhof is that its residents never talk about what happens at their residence,” says this ex-Matie on social media.

Another social media user says “even though not everyone has knew everything not, many already know about something for a long time”.

“No context can justify certain behavior.”

With the unveiling of these items, SU is once again under the magnifying glass and former students are of the opinion that this will be a catalyst for change in dormitory culture.

After RNews addressed more questions to the university, the SU said it would issue another statement on the matter in due course.