WATCH: UFS student cleaning up after EFF protesters has social media users divided

A University of the Free State (UFS) student has unwittingly opened up a big debate on social media after a video of him cleaning up after protesters went viral.

In the video taken on Friday and posted on Facebook by Ruan Bentley, third-year banking and investment management student Eckhard Binding picks up litter that is thrown from a rubbish bin by protesters dressed in EFF T-shirts. As soon as Binding puts it back in the bin, the protesters throw it back onto the ground, and he then picks it up again.

By Tuesday, the original video had been viewed more than 1.5 million times.

While many felt Binding's actions were justified, others argued that he was undermining the context of the protest, which was a call for the insourcing of cleaning staff at the University of the Free State.

According to UFS student paper Irawa, protesters cleared dustbins and intimidated students in the computer labs and library.

"A drone which had been recording the protest for at least two days (according to student sources) was destroyed," it reported.

In an interview with OFM's Martin van der Merwe on Tuesday, Binding said he was on his way to the library when he passed the protesters. "They were like a tsunami destroying everything in their path and throwing things around," Binding said.

Bursary offered

"So I decided I would tidy up a bit. I was just so frustrated by the whole thing."

After the protesters continued to empty the bin, Binding merely picked up the trash and walked through the crowd of protesters to a different bin to throw it away.

"I had the last laugh," Binding told Van der Merwe.

More than 6 000 people commented on the video, with some offering Binding money and another offering to pay for his studies.

Commenters Ryan Flanagan, Marius Jackson and Algot Nyman each offered Binding R5 000.

Osman Ebrahim posted: "...get in touch with me… [I'll] provide you with a bursary to study in any field you want."

Many others praised Binding for his gesture.

Johan Naude wrote: "Proud of that guy, shows true South African pride by not being intimidated, by anyone, no matter what the circumstances."

Interfering with legitimate protest

But other commenters were not as congratulatory, arguing that Binding was interfering with a legitimate protest for the insourcing of cleaning staff at the UFS.

Naledi Chirwa tweeted: "To those who like celebrating every time a victory for workers is reported, every time cleaners are insourced because of the EFF, you must know that this is what it takes. And this white boy is standing in the middle of EFFSC getting workers insourced."

@Mphalane_ tweeted: "A whole entire protest about insourcing workers and people want to celebrate a white man for doing bare minimus, this person is moes trying to tell us how to exhibit our anger. wtf? (sic)"

Comments in many cases turned into racist toing and froing, while some attempted a more moderate approach. @Mahlakoma tweeted: "Some people need to learn that littering will not solve their concerns. This is just more work to our fellow brothers & sisters in the cleaning department. I admire the young man's courage & calmness in this situation (sic)."

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Show Comments ()
Voting Booth
What do you think will happen if alleged war criminal Vladimir Putin enters South Africa for the BRICS summit in August?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Government will roll out the red carpet
72% - 2910 votes
There will be a court order compelling his arrest
4% - 151 votes
I doubt he’ll enter the country
24% - 962 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.