University transformation under spotlight

Cape Town - A series of national hearings on transformation at the country's universities are set to start on Thursday, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said on Wednesday.

The decision followed "racial incidences" at various universities, suggesting a need to re-examine transformation issues, the commission said in a statement.

It referred to the recent assault of a black student at the University of the Free State, allegedly by two white students, and the humiliation of cleaners in a mock initiation ceremony at the institution by the "Reitz four" in 2008.

The commission had also been asked to probe a complaint about the drowning of first-year student Thabang Mokhoang in a campus swimming pool during an "orientation programme" at the North West University in January 2012.

"The SAHRC notes that a subsequent investigation into the incident concluded that Mr Mokhoang's death was an accident and that all proper precautions were in place to ensure that the events forming part of the orientation programme occurred safely," the commission said.

The commission had, however, been asked by the higher education department to determine what role discrimination on the basis of race and language played in Mokhoang's death.

This week's hearings would include submissions by the higher education and training department, the vice chancellor, and student representatives.