Stellenbosch University (SU) can no longer afford Wim de Villiers’ trail of destruction and nepotism.
So says Dr. Leon Schreiber, DA-MP and member of the university’s council, after it came to light last weekend that De Villiers, rector of the university, intervened to grant admission to medical studies at Maties to the niece of his wife, Catherine , to grant.
The admission Charlie Linnegar gained was thanks to one of the rector’s three discretionary placements for prospective students. According to SU’s website, the rector’s discretionary postings are made on the basis of “strategic reasons, as requested by the rector”.
Rapport reported on Sunday that Linnegar’s posting was withdrawn after a schoolmate who achieved better grades than him, but was not admitted to medical studies, raised questions about his selection at SU. The family relationship between Linnegar and De Villiers subsequently came to naught.
“We see repeatedly how the university is busy undermining Afrikaans under the guise of transformation, but the only Afrikaans people who have been spared from transformation are the rector’s family,” says Schreiber.
“Out of the 30,000 applications [vir toelating tot mediese studie] there are 120 places available and the rector decided to favor his nephew, who did not qualify, over more excellent and less privileged applicants.
“With that, he undermines the commitment to the transformation that he regularly preaches.”
In correspondence with the prospective student, Dr. Ronel Retief, registrar at SU, according to Rapport that she accepts responsibility for the events and that she advises the rector on discretionary placements. According to the report, Retief says that De Villiers acted in good faith when he placed Linnegar.
Linnegar’s post has since been withdrawn to ensure the “integrity of posts in this category and the selection process as a whole”, according to Retief Rapport said.
In response to the issue, SU’s executive committee said it was aware “of a matter related to a complaint that in October 2022 the rector and vice-chancellor exercised his right in terms of SU’s admissions policy to, at his own discretion, for a family member to offer his wife a place in the MBChB program for 2023”.
However, according to SU, the offer was withdrawn the same month, before registration for this year’s study.
“This matter is being dealt with internally and will be included in the agenda of the upcoming council meeting.”
The executive committee further states that the university follows a clearly defined admissions policy and this policy “explicitly provides for the rector’s discretionary placements”.
“The rector admits that although he acted in good faith and in accordance with the current guidelines, it was a miscalculation. The rectorate will review the guidelines for discretionary placements in terms of the admissions policy.”
De Villiers must be thanked
In response to the latest events, Schreiber said that De Villiers – referring to the ban on Afrikaans students from speaking that language – allowed human rights abuses against Afrikaans students, while he portrayed his own family as corrupt and this “at the expense of the transformation he so sing”.
“He has to go,” says Schreiber.
Schreiber has already submitted a motion of no confidence against De Villiers to the SU council and says that it must now be ensured that it succeeds. The motion stems from the Human Rights Commission’s (HRC) report on human rights violations at SU, in which it was found, among other things, that the university violated the human rights of students by prohibiting them from speaking Afrikaans.
Linnegar’s initial admission will be used to strengthen this motion. However, a two-thirds majority of all council members is necessary for such a proposed motion to pass.
Schreiber says that if there is “an honorable bone” in De Villiers’ body, he will resign before the next council meeting.
The motion goes before the council on 17 April and should it be accepted, De Villiers will be relieved of his office immediately. SU says in its latest statement that the incident will be included in the agenda of the upcoming board meeting.
Schreiber says that after Linnegar’s post was revoked, there were already two council meetings where not a word was said about the matter. “It is clear that De Villiers and the registrar, Ronel Retief, were both aware of the story and kept it away from the council.”
He says the withdrawal of Linnegar’s admission is an admission of guilt by De Villiers and that he would have gotten away with it, had the whistleblower not started asking questions.
Schreiber also says that not only was the woman, who asked questions about Linnegar’s post, victimized in the process (among other things because the blame for the withdrawal of Linnegar’s admission was placed on her); Linnegar himself was victimized for being involved in this “dirty business”.
“He had to deal with the disappointment of being offered a place, after which it was only withdrawn due to its nepotistic nature.”
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