Higher education institutions must stand firm on issue of language -HETN

Organisation says they are still deciding if they should formally oppose legal attempts by AfriForum to undermine language transformation

HETN condemns AfriForum language litigation

27 July 2016

The Higher Education Transformation Network (HETN), acting on behalf of its alumni members, hereby notes the recent planned High Court judgement against the introduction of English as the sole medium of instruction at the University of Free State (UFS). We further note the current court application by Afriforum against the introduction of English as the sole medium of instruction at the University of South Africa (UNISA) which we support.

Whilst we condemn and deplore the unfortunate High Court order against the UFS and above-mentioned legal challenge by Afriforum, the Network is considering both cases with major interest and is considering its options whether or not to formally join the planned litigation through a request for admission as friend of the court (amicus curiae) in order to vicariously oppose any legal attempts by Afriforum and its parent, Solidariteit, to undermine the transformation of the higher education sector.

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa requires that all citizens have access to education and equal access to educational institutions. In order to eliminate poverty and create jobs, the National Development Plan has set a national target for the country to increase the outputs of black and female teachers, students and researchers to reverse gender and racial imbalances in the higher education sector to ensure that African and women make up 50% of the teaching and research staff of universities.

It is no secret that Afriforum in its pro-white ideology has already successfully hijacked most alumni and Convocations of historically Afrikaans universities suck as University of Pretoria, North West University (Potch), Stellenbosch amongst others.. Our successive legal victories against the University of Pretoria and it's then Afriforum-controlled Tuks Alumni Board at the Equality Court (31st July 2013) as well as recently in the High Court (10th June 2014) lends credence to our assertions.

We call on all higher education institutions and Vice-Chancellors to stand firm and pursue litigation and avoid entering into any sellout settlement agreements with Afriforum and its parent Solidariteit on the non-negotiable issue of language as a barrier to access for the disadvantaged and pursue litigation up and until the Constitutional Court for legal clarity on the matter.

Judicial Subjectivity

We are further concerned that some High Court judges continue till this day to subjectively interpret the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa in myopia and continue to live in denial of the harm posed by language as a barrier to increased access by poor impoverished communities to the higher education sector.

We reiterate our view that judges as human beings are inherently fallible and are influenced by their own preferences, values and attitudes in line with Daniel Plaatjies who opines that "Justices' ideological perspectives and preferences on law and political governance, whether conservative, liberal or progressive, influence their behaviour and decisions".

Judges are not above their own rules and are expected to interpret the law and Constitution of the Republic with impartiality.

We will not rest on our laurels whilst racist Neo-Nazis are openly plying their trade in the higher education sector.

Issued by Ramafala Ramatshosa, Director: Media Liason, Higher Education Transformation Network, 27 July 2016