Stellenbosch University’s Vice-Chancellor cleared of misconduct over nepotism scandal

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The University of Stellenbosch has confirmed that it has cleared its Vice-Chancellor Wim de Villiers of misconduct, following a nepotism scandal. The retired Judge Carole Lewis led a panel which was appointed to investigate allegations that De Villiers abused the Rector’s Discretionary Placement (RDP), on which two of his relatives were reportedly admitted to study at the institution.

The panel says despite the outcome of the investigation, De Villiers should make a public apology.

Nicky Newton-King, the chairperson of the university council, says: “The panel found that there was no serious misconduct, as required under the statute, which would warrant his removal from office and this panel was led by a retired judge of the SCA. So it was a very robust process with many witnesses interviewed. But, the essential finding was that the rules of nepotism and conflict of interest didn’t apply to the RDP as those rules gave him a very broad discretion to place.”

Review policies

The Stellenbosch University council says it will review policies such as the institution’s conflict of interest and nepotism to provide clarity on how discretionary placements should be handled in future.

Newton-King, says a committee established to probe the allegations of nepotism found that De Villiers had used his discretionary right to secure a place for two family members at the university.

“We re-emphasize our commitment to the mammoth task of positioning Stellenbosch University as a multi lingual, world class, African, research focused university in service of society. As a university community we welcome the opportunity for scrutiny and reflection. These placements have caused turmoil at the university. Neither individuals nor the institution is perfect and we have all made errors of judgement. The Rector has taken full responsibility for his.”

Stellenbosch University Vice-Chancellor found not guilty of nepotism: