Deon Visser


The South African Military Academy was established in 1950 as a branch of the
SA Military College, under the academic auspices of the University of Pretoria. A
mere three years later, in 1953, the Union Defence Force decided to relocate the
Academy to Saldanha and to establish it as an independent military unit under the
wings of Stellenbosch University. The relocation process took place during
1955/1956, shortly after construction of the Academy buildings at Saldanha had
started. As a result, Stellenbosch University agreed to accommodate the Academy
staff and students on the mother campus until the facilities at Saldanha were
completed. However, not all civilian students welcomed the military students on the
Matie campus, which culminated in the so-called ‘Battle of Wilgenhof’ in 1957.
This article investigates the origins, extent, outcome and consequences of the
conflict between military and civilian students on the campus of Stellenbosch
University in the mid-1950s. It contends that the conflict was rooted in cultural
rather than political differences, that the antagonism towards the military students
was in essence restricted to the residents of Wilgenhof and that the ‘Battle of
Wilgenhof’ had no lasting impact on the interaction between military and civilian
students at Stellenbosch University.

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Copyright (c) 2018 Deon Visser

ISSN 2224-0020 (online); ISSN 1022-8136 (print)

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