Skip to Content

Photo by Liesl Leonard on Unsplash.

Furore over British journal article on Coloured South African women

In South Africa's latest race controversy, an academic article published in the United Kingdom on the cognition of Coloured women is drawing fire.

Published: May 1, 2019, 11:56 am

    Read more

    A media furore has erupted in South Africa over a scientific article published in a British academic journal, Aging Neuropsychology and Cognition, in which the effects of poverty and low education on Coloured women are discussed. The University of Stellenbosch has publicly apologised for its researchers having engaged in such research, although it was internationally peer-reviewed and passed a research ethics test.

    The article, entitled “Age- and education-related effects on cognitive functioning in Colored South African women” found that such women had “an increased risk for low cognitive functioning, as they present with low education levels and unhealthy lifestyle behaviors”.

    Although the findings from the five Stellenbosch researchers were passed by the international reviewers as reasonable and factually-based, their university has now all but denounced their work by issuing a statement saying:

    “We apologise unconditionally for the pain and the anguish which resulted from this article. We also have empathy towards current and past staff members, our students and our alumni who have had to endure criticism for their association with our institution.”

    The five academics concerned, Sharné Nieuwoudt, Kasha Elizabeth Dickie, Carla Coetsee, Elmarie Terblanche and Louise Engelbrecht, are now being threatened with a witch hunt as a result of the media outrage.

    According to the university’s deputy vice-chancellor for research, innovation and postgraduate studies, Professor Eugene Cloete, “The rectorate has… decided to request a thorough investigation into all aspects of this study, guided by the Stellenbosch University’s Policy for Responsible Research Conduct, as well as the university’s procedure for the investigation of allegations of breach of research norms and standards. Based on the outcome of this investigation, we will take corrective action, as required.”

    The five researchers belong to the university’s Sport Science department and they have previously published on health and fitness, including cognition and the prevalence of obesity in certain socioeconomic groups.

    For the current study, they used an international test known as the Montreal Cognitive Assessment that accord points on a scale of 30, measuring short-term memory recall, visuospatial abilities, verbal abstraction and orientation to time. It is commonly used to test for mental impairment in patients with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or other neurological disorders. It is therefore not an IQ test, but an assessment of cognitive functioning.

    The five researchers conclude in their article that cognitive function among the target group of Coloured women correlated both with age and education level, which may not in itself seem controversial.

    However, the Psychological Society of South Africa denounced it as “racism”, saying: “We are disturbed by and strongly opposed to the practice of misusing racial classification in scientific research and the consequent perpetuation of stigma, discrimination and racism within our society, as exemplified in the recent publication.”

    The “Coloured” or mixed-race group in South Africa is also defined in legislation by the current ANC government, so conducting research on this group cannot be illegal. But the Psychology Society further denounced the study as “colonial”, stating that “(t)he article draws on colonial stereotypes of ‘coloured’ women, and portrays them as intellectually deficient, making broad, reckless and injurious generalisations on the basis of a flawed methodology”.

    The British-based journal, Aging Neuropsychology and Cognition, is published by Taylor & Francis, which belongs to a listed UK media and communications group, Informa UK Limited. It is also a member of the FTSE 100 group of the largest companies on the London Stock Exchange.

    Consider donating to support our work

    Help us to produce more articles like this. FreeWestMedia is depending on donations from our readers to keep going. With your help, we expose the mainstream fake news agenda.

    Keep ​your language polite​. Readers from many different countries visit and contribute to Free West Media and we must therefore obey the rules in​,​ for example​, ​Germany. Illegal content will be deleted.

    If you have been approved to post comments without preview from FWM, you are responsible for violation​s​ of​ any​ law. This means that FWM may be forced to cooperate with authorities in a possible crime investigation.

    If your comments are subject to preview ​by FWM, please be patient. We continually review comments but depending on the time of day it can take up to several hours before your comment is reviewed.

    We reserve the right to del​ete​ comments that are offensive, contain slander or foul language, or are irrelevant to the discussion.


    Gambia refuses to take back deported migrants

    BanjulThe government of the West African mini-state Gambia is not even considering taking back its own citizens in the course of repatriations. Their argument is that this would lead to “social unrest”.

    A comparison of the Taliban and South Africa’s armies

    KabulIn the cockpit of one of the four Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft that the Taliban now have in their new air force, the victor looked particularly pleased. Why were these planes not flown out before they fell into the hands of the Taliban? Photos of the evacuation show how cables have been cut off and instrumentation partially broken, indicating that they were forced to abandon them at very short notice.

    British Medical Journal: ‘Why have so many African leaders died of Covid-19?’

    TeneneriveBeing an African leader in a Covid pandemic has been perilous since they die “seven times above estimates of the world’s average for a demographic profile of similar sex and age average for the same period,” according to a British study.

    The biggest riots in 100 years in South Africa

    JohannesburgDuring the week of 11 to 17 July 2021, South African experienced devastating riots, looting and violence during which more than 200 people lost their lives and R100 billion (about €6 billion) of damage was done to businesses and general infrastructure.

    Coincidence? Three presidents dead after blocking distribution of Covid vaccines

    The leaders of three different countries died after having stopped the distribution of the experimental Covid-19 jabs. All three countries took the decision to distribute the vaccines to their citizens only after their leaders passed away.

    South African Minister of Police complains about curious discovery of ammunition

    Richards BayThe South African Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, claims to have "discovered" thousands of rounds of ammunition just lying in the street. This unlikely scenario of abandoned ammunition amidst the ongoing plundering of the country, is designed to justify the upcoming Firearm Amendment Bill which will end citizen's right to self defense.

    South Africa: Whites abandon their homes as mobs spread mayhem

    DurbanDurban is the third most populous city in South Africa after Johannesburg and Cape Town and the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal. Zulus, the largest black tribe in the country, form the largest single ethnic group in the city too. FreeWestMedia has received reports of residents in areas hardest hit by ongoing riots, abandoning their homes. What may have started as a political protest has descended into anarchy.

    South Africa: EFF’s Julius Malema call on supporters to join looters

    JohannesburgEconomic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema has incited his followers to continue the violence and looting should the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) be deployed in support of the police. Even as President Cyril Ramaphosa spoke in a televised address to the nation on Monday, illegally armed, violent marauding mobs were challenging law enforcement.

    Demography is destiny: The future will be African

    Our future will be African. By 2100, one in three people on the planet will be African according to all demographic forecasts. Relative to other continents, this growth in Africa is unprecedented in human history.

    Violence, retribution and the South African justice system

    PretoriaHowever one looks at it, the country has lost its way: the South African police are not in a position to handle crime effectively, declared the ANC’s own chair of the parliamentary portfolio committee on police Ms. Tina Joemat-Pettersson in November 2020. For four years in a row, the police service could only garner a qualified audit because the department did not fulfil the requirements set out for a clean audit. Reasons such as unauthorised spending and the poor quality of the department’s financial affairs were given for this failure.

    Go to archive