Panel appointed to investigate Wilgenhof events


Stellenbosch University (SU) appointed a three-member panel to investigate the contents found in two rooms at the Wilgenhof residence.

It was previously reported that graphic images, sketches and written descriptions of “punishment” inflicted in this residence were among the items found behind the locked doors of Wilgenhof residence. Media reports also referred to the “horrific abuse” to which some residents were subjected.

The panel will be led by adv. Nick the Hunter. He will be assisted by dr. Dereck Swemmer, former registrar of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and the University of the Free State (UF), and Penny van der Bank, deputy registrar for oversight management support at SU.

“The rectorate intends to ensure through this investigation that the panel supports the realization of SU’s cultural transformation in accordance with the university’s Vision 2040,” reads a letter sent to the university community.

The mandate of the panel is, among other things, to create an understanding of the historical, cultural and symbolic dimensions of the content and functions of the two rooms and to consider this against the background of acculturation practices at Wilgenhof residence, and to advise the rectorate accordingly to serve.

“To consider in detail the meaning of the content and functions of the two rooms within the broader institutional culture and activities of SU residences. To evaluate whether, and to what extent, the records, practices and general culture of Wilgenhof are inconsistent with the values ​​of the university and may infringe on the human dignity of current and former SU staff and students. To determine whether unacceptable practices in Wilgenhof have been concealed or covered up over time by university staff, alumni or students, and to determine whether there is evidence of behavior by past and/or current student leadership and/or management of Wilgenhof that is inconsistent with any policy statements, regulations, rules or the disciplinary code for SU students.”

According to SU, as part of the process, he will make academic and professional expertise available to the panel to consult on various aspects related to the history, traditions, sociology, psychology and culture of SU and its residences.

“A report is expected to be submitted to the rectorate by the end of February, or as soon as possible thereafter if the panel requests more time.”

RNews reported at the end of January that the Wilgenhof residence will be monitored 24 hours a day to ensure that the residence is always in accordance with the values ​​and acceptable practices as endorsed by SU.