We are treated like animals at Elsenburg - black student

2015-09-03 20:14
(Tammy Petersen, News24)

(Tammy Petersen, News24)

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WATCH: Elsenburg students whipped by EFF protesters

2015-09-01 13:07

Students of the Elsenburg Agricultural College were assaulted with whips by protesting students and members of the EFF. WATCH

Cape Town - “These Afrikaners act like we’re animals and they’re still our baas. This place is like a little apartheid village,” a black Elsenburg Agricultural College student said on Thursday. 

"But I won’t leave just because they are trying to make it uncomfortable for us. I have a right to education."

The young man was among the students who have been protesting at the Stellenbosch college against alleged racism and the university’s language policy.

The upset student, who asked not to be named, was close to tears as he spoke about the humiliation he said he sometimes endures at the campus.

"[The K-word] is not an uncommon term here. We are treated like we don’t belong. Sometimes it feels like Elsenburg is not even part of South Africa," he said.

"Some days I wake up and think I must just leave this place. But then I remind myself that I am a proud born free who shouldn't just throw in the towel. This is my country, too."

By Thursday, calm had been restored to the institution, which falls under the Western Cape Department of Agriculture.

This was after students and institution management met on Wednesday to reach a compromise.

Equal rights 

Another student, Simphiwe Mazula, said being black at Elsenburg was not easy.

"Sometimes when I walk down a passage, I hear people making monkey sounds behind my back," he said.

"There is no mutual respect in this place. When black students say we want equal rights, the Afrikaners tell us that we don’t have a say because we are here on bursaries."

Liphelo Mpumlwana, who is part of the leadership of Decolonise EIC which led the protests, said black students want to be seen as equal to white students.

"We are fighting against racism, the dominance of the Afrikaans culture at this institution and the ignorance and undermining of other cultures," she said.

No feedback

Incidents of racism and discrimination had been reported to the institution’s management in the past, but no feedback was received, Mpumlwana said.

"We have tried doing things through the channels, but they are blocking us."

Western Cape Agriculture Department spokesperson Petro van Rhyn encouraged the students to report such incidents as management "can respond to such claims only if it has been reported and substantial evidence has been submitted".

She said "part of the transformation process is… [that] independent mediators, which have been on site for three weeks, will continue to facilitate the transformation process, diversity management training and conflict resolution involving students, lecturers and administrative personnel".

Read more on:    stellenbosch  |  education  |  racism

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