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Justice Sisi Khampepe to probe racism allegations at Stellenbosch University

Retired judge Sisi Khampepe has been appointed by Stellenbosch University to conduct an independent inquiry into allegations of racism at the institution. File photo.
Retired judge Sisi Khampepe has been appointed by Stellenbosch University to conduct an independent inquiry into allegations of racism at the institution. File photo.
Image: Thulani Mbele

Stellenbosch University has appointed retired judge Sisi Khampepe as commissioner to conduct an independent inquiry into allegations of racism at the institution.

The university said on Friday the commission will conduct the inquiry by means of closed proceedings to provide confidence in the inquiry and enable candid participation on a broad basis.

The identity, personal information and evidence of witnesses would be kept confidential.

Khampepe will make recommendations to the rector and vice-chancellor Wim de Villiers to assist SU to improve its culture of diversity, equity and inclusion with reference to racism that will safeguard and promote the dignity and self-worth of all students and staff, the university said.

It said the commission will consider:

  • incidents of racism at the university, with reference to the recent occurrences at Huis Marais and the faculty of law’s law dance;
  • the state of diversity, equity and inclusion within the university campus culture, with specific reference to racism;
  • given the university’s stance of zero-tolerance towards racism, whether the existing structures of the university and its policies, rules and processes are sufficient and effective to address the lived experience of students and staff with regard to racism in all its guises; and
  • related issues and concerns that may arise during the inquiry, including the need for further investigation or consideration of related issues.

De Villiers said Khampepe has an outstanding professional reputation, invaluable experience and is a person of impeccable integrity.

“SU takes a zero-tolerance approach to racism, discrimination, prejudice and violence on campus,” he said.

“As communicated before, we want to strengthen existing and are implementing new comprehensive measures to combat such violations and continue to improve those measures on an ongoing basis. The SU leadership is sensitive to the wellbeing of the entire student and staff community and the impact of such incidents on our SU community.”

The university said the commission may, at its own discretion, receive any evidence that is relevant to its mandate from any person and in a manner determined by the commissioner.

This may include but is not limited to the witnesses whose evidence will be presented, the invitation of written submissions from the campus community, and any other actions deemed necessary by it.

It is expected the commission will commence in the middle of June.

The report, with its findings and recommendations, will be submitted to the rector and vice-chancellor on a date agreed on between the university and the commission.

Khampepe was appointed as a judge of the Constitutional Court in 2009. She retired in October 2021.

TimesLIVE


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