NWU student charged with hate speech, AfriForum Youth demands withdrawal of all charges

The disciplinary hearing of Shaun Christie, the senior student from North West University (NWU) who was temporarily suspended earlier this month following his public objection to the content of a session at an orientation event, will take place at the university’s Potchefstroom campus tomorrow. AfriForum Youth’s legal team will assist Christie at the hearing and will also insist that all charges against him be withdrawn.

According to the charge sheet, Christie is charged with five separate counts of misconduct. The university argues, among other things, that Christie intentionally made himself “guilty of hate speech by inciting that the students must stand up against the LGBTQIAP + Community”. In addition, he is charged with intentionally disrupting a university programme; infringement of the rights of the speaker of the relevant session, Chloe Valerie van der Walt; being guilty of treating the LGBTQIAP + community with hostility; and that he wrongfully and intentionally made a false statement regarding the university’s alleged intolerance of Christian values.

According to Ronald Peters, AfriForum Youth Manager, the university ignores Christie’s right to freedom of speech and freedom of association with these charges. “The attempt to extend a charge of misconduct now to include a much more serious charge of hate speech is unacceptable. Our legal representative will assist Christie and ensure that this witch hunt is brought to an end,” emphasises Peters.

“So far, the university has in no way accepted responsibility for the blatantly biased way in which the orientation programme was put together. An LGBTQIAP + association was the only one allowed to host a session as part of the official programme and this created the breeding ground for discontent. Christie stood up for what he believed in and is now being punished for it,” concludes Peters.

Christie’s temporary suspension was partially lifted on 13 February. The university’s disciplinary committee thereby gave this fourth-year law student permission to participate in academic proceedings again. However, he is still not allowed to attend any of the university’s public events.