Human dignity is non-negotiable at Stellenbosch University and must be respected and upheld. When such dignity is affected, it must be restored following due process, the rule of law, and the full extent to which the constitution protects the rights of all in our country.
As a well-governed institution, SU feels strongly that the just course of the law and regulations must always be followed to protect the interests and rights of both victims and alleged perpetrators. It provides for just, defensible and sustainable outcomes.
The disciplinary hearing of Mr Theuns du Toit, following an incident at Huis Marais on 15 May 2022, was concluded on 23 June 2022. On 21 July 2022, the independent Central Disciplinary Committee (CDC) of SU found Mr Du Toit guilty of contravening clauses 3.1, 9.1, 9.3, 13.1 and 13.2 of the institution's Disciplinary Code for Students. Mr Du Toit was also found guilty of contravening the Amended Residence Rules regarding clause 7 of the Code.
At the time, these findings led the CDC to conclude that there is no alternative but to expel Mr Du Toit with immediate effect from the University. Mr Du Toit had the right of appeal against the CDC finding or sanction, which he exercised.
Reviewing the facts of the case in the appeal, the Disciplinary Appeal Committee (DAC), led by an independent advocate, evaluated the evidence at hand and found that the expulsion was an appropriate sanction for the transgression as found in the CDC disciplinary hearing. Thus, the appeal was unsuccessful, and the expulsion of Mr Du Toit from SU is upheld, and he may not return to the University. The full findings of the DAC can be accessed here.
Criminal charges were also pressed regarding the incident at hand. These legal processes are not within the SU jurisdiction or control, but the University will cooperate fully in this regard. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) confirmed that they will investigate and prosecute Mr Du Toit for criminal property damage and crimen injuria. SU will cooperate with this process in line with its responsibility in support of the Constitution of South Africa.
Commenting on the outcome, Prof Deresh Ramjugernath, SU Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Learning and Teaching, stressed that like the CDC, the DAC also functions independently of the university management on disciplinary matters that it hears and in the sanctions that it hands down. He adds that due process had thoroughly been adhered to, including detailed investigations that were conducted. The University follows its Disciplinary Code for Students of SU in all these proceedings. This independent objectively constituted committee followed the process and procedures described in the SU Student Discipline Code. “The University viewed the case in a very serious light but supported the right to appeal in the interest of fairness and a just outcome," he adds.
The reactions and emotions unleashed by the Huis Marais incident, as also considered and reflected by the Khampepe Commission in its report, emphasised to SU's management that the lived experiences of many students and staff must be acknowledged and addressed. SU again commits itself unconditionally to the ideal of an inclusive world-class university in and for Africa.