The University of Stellenbosch has taken a bold step to remove the commemorative plaque honouring the former South Africa’s apartheid Prime Minister, H F Verwoerd from the campus’ Accounting and Statistics building on 27 May 2015. This visual symbol was not a unifying reflection of our democratic, nation building and social cohesion ideals of a new nation. It was particularly regressive for an important institution such as a University to embrace the symbol amidst its social transformation obligation.
It is even more significant that there is a harmonious cohesion around the removal of the plaque. The gesture by Dr Wilhelm Verwoerd, who is the grandson of the apartheid Prime Minister, to support and join the removal ceremony of the plaque is encouraging. We hope that many South Africans who are still clasping at the history and heritage that is derogatory to others can follow the example of the Stellenbosch University.
“The National Heritage Council thanks the newly appointed Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers, for the proactive leadership in following due processes of removing public symbols. We also wish the entire community well in approaching other transformational matters relating to the University with equal speed and tenacity” says Adv Sonwabile Mancotywa the CEO of the NHC.