[lg policy] Racist hostels in Pretoria shamed

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Thu Feb 8 10:21:30 EST 2018


Racist hostels in Pretoria shamed

Gauteng <https://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/gauteng> / 8 February
2018, 06:45am / *Sakhile Ndlazi*

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The Sonop residence in Brooklyn has been banned from taking part in
University of Pretoria events because it is "too white". Picture: Supplied
Pretoria - Two white-only student residences in the city have been dealt a
blow for not transforming - with one of them banned from taking part in any
of the University of Pretoria’s traditional competitions this year.

UP has had a long-standing relationship with Sonop residence, a
privately-owned student housing complex which houses students of the
university.

The university has banned the residence from participating in most of its
activities because of insufficient transformation. Events include 1nSync
and the Rag.

The prohibition was imposed by the university’s management and the SRC.

University spokesperson Rikus Delport said in recent years there had been
challenges with regard to the transformation requirements set by the
university for privately-owned student housing establishments.

*Read: Outcry at UP housing plan
<https://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/gauteng/outcry-at-up-housing-plan-1723024>*

*Afrikaans-only hostel rumpus
<https://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/gauteng/afrikaans-only-hostel-rumpus-8339669>*

“The university is sympathetic to the challenges facing Sonop in this
regard, particularly given the high cost of operating student housing
without any form of subsidisation,” he said.

He said university management had been involved in processes to arrive at a
new memorandum of understanding with Sonop. Discussions, he said, were
ongoing.

SRC president Kwena Moloto said the banning was not a new phenomenon and
had been done before.

Last year, the predominantly white privately-owned residence in Sunnyside,
De Goede Hoop, was also banned from participating in varsity events.

Moloto said the university had a transformation quota which the residence
didn't meet.

“To my knowledge, a third of the residence should house black people, in
accordance with the quota,” he said.

Out of the 160 residents at Sonop, only six were black.

Moloto also dismissed claims that the decision to ban Sonop residence was
solely taken by the DA-led SRC. He said different stakeholders, including
the SRC, the department of student affairs and various other players, came
to this conclusion.

Willie Spies, an old Sonopper and a lawyer for AfriForum whose son is now a
second-year student staying at the residence, expressed his disappointment
on social media with the university management and the SRC over this
decision.

He wrote: “After the DA-dominated student council and university management
insisted that Sonop be kicked out of all hostel competitions, including the
first-year serry contest InSync, because Sonop is too white and too
Afrikaans, the Sonop first years today kept their sarcasm for everyone
interested in the West lawn."

According to Spies, Sonop’s language policy had already changed as all
hostel meetings were in English.

Sonop management said it would meet with UP management on Friday for
further discussions. A press briefing would be hosted by Sonop to iron out
the issues.

Meanwhile, the “whites and Christian only” De Goede Hoop hostel occupied by
UP students was also dealt a blow by the Commission for the Promotion and
Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities,
or CRL Rights Commission.
*The CRL Rights Commission has made transformation proposals for the
"Afrikaans and Christian only" De Goede Hoop residence in Sunnyside.
Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/ANA*

A complaint was lodged last March by community activist Yusuf Abramjee. He
asked for a probe into the residence which was exclusively for Afrikaans
and Christian students. He and other complainants argued that the residence
was unconstitutional and “is apartheid in disguise”. They called on the
commission to probe the matter and make a ruling urgently.

The residence is divided into De Goede Hoop Mans (men) and De Goede Hoop
Dames (ladies).

When the commission visited the residence, it found that only white
students were admitted. There were no black residents.

*Also read: Afrikaners merely looking to protect language and culture
<https://www.iol.co.za/news/opinion/afrikaners-merely-looking-to-protect-language-and-culture-8708682>*

In addition, students were expected to write an Afrikaans essay to motivate
their application.

The commission has since recommended that the writing of an Afrikaans essay
be scrapped.

Further, the admission committee should be representative of all the
demographics in society.

Abramjee said he couldn’t believe that, after two decades of democracy,
institutions like these still existed.

He said the long battle finally yielded results. “I am delighted about this
outcome, and I hope it sends a strong message to all the other institutions
who are still living in the past,” he said.

*Pretoria News*

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 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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