Grizelda Stuurman, a teacher who received an honours degree in education at Stellenbosch University (SU), is one of the very first beneficiaries of the Die Vlakte Bursary Fund, which SU Rector Prof Wim de Villiers announced in his inaugural address in April 2015. This bursary fund is a redress and development measure intended for the descendants of those who in the 1960s and 1970s were forcibly removed from Die Vlakte, a residential area that was located adjacent to the Stellenbosch town centre and partially overlapped the University.
Grizelda is the only bursary recipient who has lived in Die Vlakte. “I was born as one of eight children in Banhoek Road and started my primary schooling at James Hugo Memorial (the Rhenish school). The school building still stands, although it currently houses the Department of Home Affairs. My grandparents lived directly opposite the mosque, which today is the parking area for Pick n Pay.”
Die Vlakte was bounded by Muller, Bird and Joubert streets, as well as Merriman Avenue. It was home to mostly coloured people, but they were removed in terms of the Group Areas Act in the 1960s. At the time, SU as an institution did not object and later proceeded to build some of its facilities on the expropriated land. For decades, these removals and the Battle of Andringa Street did not form part of the official history of Stellenbosch.
Grizelda says her family was forced to move to Cloetesville in 1970 and 1971. “The people of Die Vlakte were like one big family. We all took care of one another’s families. This sense of community was lost and close friendships were broken up when families were moved to either Cloetesville or Idas Valley. But today, I am proud to say that the residents of Die Vlakte were people of substance because they did not let their circumstances get them down. Despite the challenges, they continued to fight in order to offer their children a quality life, and a better future when grown up.”
She says it was pure coincidence that the Die Vlakte study bursary became available just as she applied to study towards her BEd Hons (Education Management). “Apart from the financial benefit of having all my study expenses covered, the bursary is of sentimental value to me. My mother, Eunice Damon, passed away exactly a month before I was informed that I had been named one of the bursary recipients. Our parents were the driving force behind their eight children’s efforts to further their studies. My mother used to say that although she and my father would not be able to leave us large sums of money, we had to see our opportunities to obtain an education as their bequest to us.”
According to Grizelda, the importance of bursaries cannot be overestimated. She wants bursary donors to know that they are not only investing in an individual, but in the future of our country. “With the sluggish economy and high unemployment rate, most parents cannot afford to send their children to a higher education institution. Bursaries ensure that more students gain access to further studies,” Grizelda says.
- By Ilse Arendse -