Stellenbosch University will not oppose the court application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) relating to the independent investigation by retired Judge Burton Fourie.
The court application followed an earlier PAIA request from Dr Leon Schreiber to make available information that Judge Fourie had in his investigation into the allegations that SU's Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Wim de Villiers, irregularly interfered in the court case between SU and Gelyke Kanse regarding the University's 2016 Language Policy.
After considering the court application and supporting statements, as well as related circumstances, SU has decided not to oppose the application. This decision does not imply that SU agrees with the applicants' views and allegations. SU is of the opinion that the independent investigation of Judge Fourie refutes Dr Schreiber and the DA's allegations. The record of the Fourie investigation, namely the transcripts of verbal proceedings, written communication and other documents to which the applicants want access, will also support Judge Fourie's findings regarding the Rector and Justice Edwin Cameron.
The SU Council accepted the Fourie report in December 2019 and also made it available to the public. In his report, Judge Fourie found that there was no merit in the allegations of irregularities in the conduct of the SU Rector, Prof De Villiers, or Justice Cameron in the Constitutional Court case regarding the University's 2016 Language Policy.
On 10 October 2019, ten judges of the Constitutional Court unanimously ruled in favour of SU in the case in which SU opposed a court application by Gelyke Kanse to force the institution to return to the 2014 Language Policy. This ruling by the Constitutional Court confirmed the ruling of the Western Cape High Court of 2017 that SU's multilingual and inclusive 2016 Language Policy complies with the Constitution and the National Language Policy for Higher Education (2002).
On 24 October 2019, Dr Schreiber, in his capacity as an SU alumnus, requested that the University launch an independent investigation against Prof De Villiers regarding his role in the nomination of Justice Cameron as a candidate for the office of Chancellor at SU.
These allegations by Dr Schreiber followed after the Rector approached Judge Edwin Cameron in July 2019 to make himself available to be nominated for the office of Chancellor, which would have become vacant at the beginning of 2020. An electoral college consisting of members of Council, members of the Executive Committee of the Senate, as well as the president and vice-president of the Convocation of SU, elected the new chancellor in September 2019.
After considering Dr Schreiber's complaint against the rector, the Executive Committee of the SU Council (EC (C)) decided on 31 October 2019 to launch an independent investigation in accordance with good governance and transparency. The EC (C) appointed retired Judge Fourie to conduct the investigation.
On 26 November 2019, retired Judge Fourie, based on the interviews he conducted and the documentation made available to him, concluded that there was no evidence that the Rector's action regarding the nomination of Justice Cameron for the position of SU Chancellor had constituted a serious violation of the law, or serious misconduct. According to the Fourie report, the evidence at most showed that the Rector, as he was obliged to do, had helped – and possibly even taken the lead – to identify suitable candidates for the nomination of a new Chancellor. Justice Cameron, on the other hand, only made himself available for nomination after Advocate Jan Heunis SC indicated in writing on behalf of Gelyke Kanse that he would not object to Justice Cameron's nomination. According to Judge Fourie, the evidence as a whole did not indicate improper conduct by the Rector or Justice Cameron. (Read SU's statement here.)