News24

Race video: UFS partly to blame?

2008-02-27 16:22

Bloemfontein - The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) was investigating whether the University of the Free State played a role in perpetuating human rights violations featured in a racist video compiled by its students.

"The commission is investigating whether the university played a role in perpetuating these violations and whether the university actually indirectly or directly took part by sanctioning some of them by allowing them to continue while it was aware of what was happening," the SAHRC said in a statement on Wednesday.

The video - featuring University of the Free State (UFS) employees on their knees eating food which had been urinated upon - was widely condemned by institutions and political parties.

The video, made by members of the Reitz men's residence on the Bloemfontein campus, came to the attention of the public on Tuesday.

This added to an already tense situation at the UFS after students rioted last week over the university's hostel integration policy.

The video depicts a mock initiation of five black staff members - four females and a man - into hostel activities and refers openly to the university's diversity policy for campus residences, which was announced last year.

The SAHRC had received complaints indicating that the university did not promote a culture of human rights, "in fact it allows and condones violations of human rights".

This was gleaned from the video, an advert on the university intranet system requesting a roommate which "should not be black and should be Christian", dehumanising initiation practices and lecturers making fun of a student with an albinism condition, the commission said.

The commission has submitted a letter to the university rector, which he should respond to within seven days, to assist in its investigation into racism and other human rights violations at the institution.

What steps taken>

The SAHRC questioned, in the letter, what steps the university had taken - given its "whites only" history - to promote racial tolerance.

It also questioned why, if the university upheld human rights, it could produce students capable of making the "dehumanising" video.

"Given its history, has the university audited its policies, rules and procedures to ensure that they conform to the human rights ethos as entrenched in the Constitution of the country?" the letter asked.

Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille said the SAHRC should secure redress for the victims whose rights had been violated, investigate the underlying causes of racial tension at the university and other institutions facing similar challenges.

"This incident is symptomatic of racial tensions that have been simmering at the campus for some time over the issue of hostel integration," Zille said.

The SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) called for an official inquiry into racism at the UFS.

"The SA Democratic Teachers Union was appalled at the revelations of racism and abuse taking place at the University of the Free State," a union statement said.

Sadtu also called for the Minister of Education, Naledi Pandor, to conduct an official enquiry into this specific incident and "more importantly" the conditions prevailing at the university which allowed this kind of activity to take place.

ID commends 'swift action'

Independent Democrats leader Patricia De Lille called on parents to allow their children to grow up in an integrated South Africa, without the prejudices of the past.

The ID condemned the video and commended the university on taking "swift action" against it.

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) condemned the "barbaric act".

Party president Bantu Holomisa said such an attack on the dignity of fellow South Africans had no place in the country's democracy.

"We commend the rector for the swift action taken against those involved," said Holomisa in a statement.

"These people should not be allowed to study at that university or any other institution of learning in this country."

Holomisa said further legal and criminal steps should be taken to punish the culprits.

'Inexcusable' - AfriForum

AfriForum, the civil rights initiative linked to Solidarity, strongly condemned the incident.

"The group of students' actions was inexcusable," said chief executive Kallie Kriel.

Kriel said he was sure that the small group's behaviour would be condemned by the majority of the students of the UFS.

He hoped the incident would not be used to place all students at the university in a bad light.

Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus) youth leader Cornelius Jansen van Rensburg distanced the organisation from the "atrocities" on the video, reportedly produced at the university.

In a statement, Van Rensburg said the FF Plus youth would never condone nor justify the violation of the human dignity of any person.

The ANC Youth League called for tough action to be taken against the students involved.

"This barbaric act does not only denigrate and dehumanise those workers, but is a tip of the iceberg of what workers experience daily at the hands of racists who can't differentiate between a dog, baboon and a human being," an ANCYL statement read.

IFP: Racism rife at UFS

The organisation said the UFS had become "a haven of barbaric acts of racism" and urged management to demonstrate its commitment in building a non-racial society.

The Inkatha Freedom Party youth added its condemnation of the video, saying it was clear racism was "rife" at the university.

It said the video coupled with the banning of white journalists from a meeting organised by the Forum of Black Journalists last week had "no place" in a democratic South Africa.

"Both incidents have now stirred massive controversy in South Africa, with many drawing comparisons with the racist policies of the apartheid system.

"What is even more disheartening is that it seems that racial goodwill and respect for individual rights is still lacking thirteen years since the dawn of democracy."

"Both incidents have now stirred massive controversy in South Africa, with many drawing comparisons with the racist policies of the apartheid system.

'We need each other'

Meanwhile, the Apostolic Faith Mission has called on all South Africans "to accept the fact that we (both blacks and whites) are living in this country together, we need each other and we have to respect and appreciate one another".

The mission condemned the "perverted thinking" highlighted by the incident at the UFS.

"The humiliation and degrading of any human being is to be deplored.

"That this incident involves whites and black is even more serious in a country still trying to rid itself of the injustices of apartheid."

Comments
  • Stax - 2008-02-27 16:40

    Agree fully with all of the above. However can we be consistent when it comes to racism and comb AA & BEE in the same manner. These policies is racist and prejudice white South Africans, and yet we continue to brush this aside. Be fair in all that you do and say.

  • Point Blank - 2008-02-27 16:47

    For f*%$ sakes!! Why, why, why are there still people like this in this country?? I blame the stupid backward parents for this, this is clearly a manifestation of parental teachings... For the love of all that is holy if you don't like the country please, please, please leave and let us who choose to stay build this country. That goes for Black and White people, there will always be both races and as soon as we start disallowing these stupid acts of racism to derail us at every turn we can move forward. Stupid, Stupid, Stupid idiots!!!

  • Attie - 2008-02-27 17:00

    Hierdie Kovsies laaities is eenvoudig varke. Die ras element ten syde; 'n mens doen nie so iets aan jou mede-mens nie. Hulle moet aangekla word.

  • JP Strauss - 2008-02-27 17:10

    It is because we are up to our necks in "policies" that we are becoming so aggressive. I would wager that if the UFS had not had an "integration policy", students from both camps would naturally mingle. Drop the quotas and targets, and you'll see that those with similar tastes in music/clothing/wallpaper will happily share a room.

  • JP Strauss - 2008-02-27 17:10

    It is because we are up to our necks in "policies" that we are becoming so aggressive. I would wager that if the UFS had not had an "integration policy", students from both camps would naturally mingle. Drop the quotas and targets, and you'll see that those with similar tastes in music/clothing/wallpaper will happily share a room.

  • JP Strauss - 2008-02-27 17:10

    It is because we are up to our necks in "policies" that we are becoming so aggressive. I would wager that if the UFS had not had an "integration policy", students from both camps would naturally mingle. Drop the quotas and targets, and you'll see that those with similar tastes in music/clothing/wallpaper will happily share a room.

  • Laps - 2008-02-27 17:10

    I was in the process of registering for a PhD with this institution and the company I work for was willing to pay and now, I just submitted a letter to my boss indicating that I am withdrawing my application to study. I will either postpone my studies or register with another institution. I cannot be associated with an institution that ignores Human rights like that.

  • what - 2008-02-27 17:11

    Everywhere this is called a horror every party & organisation condemning it. What they did was wrong but since when is racism worst then murder people are brutally murdered every day but instead of calling it a horror we call it crime. So killing people is bad but insulting them worse???

  • Stryder - 2008-02-27 17:23

    It doesn't seem to me these people were forced to take part, maybe they were paid? And I agree with JP. All the ANC has done is highlight our racial differences and past. So obviously some people will feel disenfrachised. To blame the UFS for this is silly. These were a few individuals who are idiots, but did they break the law?

  • Bob - 2008-02-27 17:24

    Well said. Isn't it always those that complain about the country that commit acts such as these. Criminal charges should be brought against these students. It makes a person ashamed of being a white South African.

  • Andre - 2008-02-27 17:31

    As studente het ons ook stupid goed gedoen, maar was ordentlikheid en menswaardigheid altyd gerespekteer. Mens kan nog dink julle is dom en onervare, dus onoordeelkundig, maar daar is te veel doelbewuste vernedering van ander mense. Ek skaam my. As blanke Suid Afrikaners wat probeer nasie-bou ondersteun, verag ek julle aksies, want julle sleep ons almal deur die modder. En saam met julle wil ek nie in die modder wees nie. Vra om verskoning - en vergifnis. Sies.

  • Pete - 2008-02-27 17:32

    Nobody is dead, nobody is even sick. Why does such an act get so much publicity? When someone is raped and murdered in front of their love ones, nobody responds. Most of the times it doesn't even make the headlines. Absolutely ridiculous and blown way out of proportion!

  • Benzo - 2008-02-27 17:33

    I am delighted to see that most political parties have come on board with some valuable comments, contributing tremendously to a solution. With so much high level support, the integration can surely be completed within a few months given the working speed of our political education systems.

  • LD - 2008-02-27 17:39

    Where do these students came from? How do their parents look like? What did their parents teach them about respect for other people. Bad Character starts with bad thoughts. Bad thoughts lead to bad choices and bad choises form your character. Your behaviour spoke for itself. LD

  • Fedup - 2008-02-27 17:40

    I was utterly appalled! I wish however that ALL hate crimes in this country were covered with the same amount of ferocity. These guys did whites an injustice by behaving like savages. I would have like to see that the media crucify this kind of behavior daily, and not only when whites commit them!

  • Bruce - 2008-02-27 17:40

    I do feel this story is blown out of proportion. Firstly, the students voice their opinion on a certain subject, which they are allowed to do. Secondly, they initiated people, by their free will. Thirdly, making initiators drink urine is very common. I know it was in stuff that I had to drink during my initiation. Fourthly, it is a coincidence that all the cleaners were black, but the same would have happened if their were whites among them.

  • Sickened - 2008-02-27 17:51

    Having spent most of my life in bloem I have many friends at UFS. This type of behaviour is not new and it happens both ways. Reitz is full of backward, knuckle-dragging neaderthals. Those acts in the video are things that happen to new students - which till now were only white - every year. And it doesn't just happen at UFS I assure you. Revoke the degrees of the two who have left and kick the other two out, preferably into a jail cell.

  • WJS - 2008-02-27 18:03

    JP Strauss you have hit the nail on the head. The UFS is obsessed with policies which determine every move that students and staff make, even in their most private capacity! It is an autocratic institution which has now burnt its fingers severely thanks to its inability and unwillingness to allow freedom of association between individuals. What the UFS wanted to achieve in 6 months with forced integeration would have happened naturally, and without this fiasco occurring, in 12-18 months!

  • Elan - 2008-02-27 18:07

    I think that the University and its leadership are a lot more than partly to blame. The fact that residences on the campus are divided into Black and White are already an indication of an situation that is unnatural so far into our democracy. That must create a polarisation on campus. Hostel integration should have been addressed a long time ago. - Elan

  • Greg - 2008-02-27 18:08

    Blown way out of propotion.Just beacuse rape and murder happen everyday we choose to ignore it for our own sanity but as soon as video like this gets out we all rave and go bizerk.It just doesn't make sense to me.I haven seen such swift action by the leaders in this country ever before.Can't the people see that pursuing this to the ends of the earth is only going to fuel the fire in this country!

  • Ronald - 2008-02-27 18:09

    I cannot understand what the big fuss is about. The cleaners wasn't forced to take part. They seem to have enjoyed the whole episode and definitely the whisky afterwards. So they drank some urine. Can't be worse than some of the things on fear factor and certainly not Kamp Staaldraad. Some people drink urine as part of a healthy diet. If this is the worst going on in this country it must be paradise.

  • Magda Kus - 2008-02-27 18:24

    Judging by news24.com reporting, the video was clearly rascist (based on video's commentary)- not just silly student style initiation. Completely unacceptable. I don't know if disciplinary action is going to make the perpertators any brighter- seeing they clearly lack common sense, never mind common decency- but- it's worth a shot- and justice needs to be served.

  • beuls - 2008-02-27 18:29

    I cannot believe pete has made a comment like he did "Nobody is dead, nobody is even sick. Why does such an act get so much publicity? When someone is raped and murdered in front of their love ones, nobody responds. Most of the times it doesn't even make the headlines. Absolutely ridiculous and blown way out of proportion! - Pete" How can you say this, you might have urinated in the bowl yourself. And we ask the question, why is this happening? I think that theres too many Pete's around

  • Victor - 2008-02-27 18:38

    Its very stupid that whites people will always try to jusfify barbaric act by another white person by bringing some other issues to the discussion. Crime and rape what has to do with this ncident? But I bet if this was done by black to whites we won't be hearing all this defences comments. Stop complaining about BEE and AA as racism if you can also denied racism practiced by whites against blacks you whinners.

  • Jules - 2008-02-27 18:55

    I'm not at all moved by any white south africans condemning such horrendous acts by white students,in particular, DA and VF leaders! They should rather say " We feel ashamed of ourselves,ashamed of how we brought up 'our kids' cause quiet frankly, those kids reflect their upbringing and how the majority of white south africans still feel about black people.those four boys represented the majority of ufs students. It was inhumane and disgusting and there's nothing funny about it!! Jules

  • Jules - 2008-02-27 19:07

    The story is not blown out of proportion, it will only appear to be so if you are white!! There was absolutely no need to initiate those ladies. what did they do to deserve to be initiated? are they first years? what was the point?? listen carefully to the video,you'll realize that everything done there was to mock the integration policy. nothing justifies what those boys did.stop being white about this and be humane!!!no one deserves to drink another person's urine!!

  • Dee - 2008-02-27 19:18

    1. policies r there bcos without them white ppl resist change, they dont willingly want to do right what they did wrong in the past. POLICIES MUST BE THERE TO ENSURE THAT BLACK PPL DONT CONTINUE TO LIVE UNDER APARTHEID POLICIES WHICH DEPRIVED THEM OF THE A LOT OF THINGS WHITE PPL THOUGHT THEY DIDNT DERSERVE. 2. Such publicity is needed to show you a naive SA that racism is rife at UFS and needs to be dealt with.students hav bn cryin for 2 long.enuf is enuf!we don't deserve 2b treated like animals

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