Reitz cleaners speak out

2009-10-12 07:27

London - The five cleaners at the University of the Free State who appear in the controversial Reitz video, have discussed their humiliation for the first time, in a British newspaper.

"When they filmed us… they were laughing so hard there were tears in their eyes," one of four women in the video, Laukaziemma Koko, told the British Sunday Times.

She added that she thinks about the video every day.

The trial of the four young men who filmed the video will resume on October 26 in the Bloemfontein magistrate's court.

To this day, Koko still wonders what was in that stew they were forced to eat.


"We are convinced it was dog food. It was lukewarm and had gristle in it - it tasted metallic and foul. They treated us like dogs, so it would make sense that they would feed us dog food. We are all worried at what they didn’t film. What else was in it.

"They say they didn’t urinate in it, but I don’t believe it. They said they staged it and they were just messing around, but we were all sick. That was the most humiliating part for us. That young men we trusted took advantage of us to make a cheap joke and fed us that horrible concoction - raw meat for dogs like we were animals. It makes me vomit just thinking about it."

Koko has been working at the university for 21 years.

She still remembers her first day at work like it was yesterday. "The rules came as a shock. I had to call the young men - the students - kleinbass, and before each shift I had to scrub my hands clean and then put on rubber gloves. I could never take them off on campus. If I touched a student’s food with bare hands, I was told, I would be fired."

Another one of the women, Rebecca Adams, said she used to be "invisible" until the video was leaked to the media.

"After it came out politicians wanted to speak to me. I met the rector for the first time. We were given tea in his office. My family was hounded by the South African media. I am not an educated woman, but I knew I was being used. Collectively we made a decision to step away from this incident. We stayed away from the university for a short while, but we all kept our jobs, we all went back to work together, although we were moved to another hostel.

"We saw those boys in a different way to how they saw us," Adams said.


"I treated them like sons. I cleaned up their hostel and joked with them. I told them off if they made too much of a mess. We helped them when they first came into the hostel. They were young, nervous, we made them tea. They betrayed us. Stuck a knife into our hearts. We were not as intelligent as them, so they manipulated us. They told us they were playing a game.

"I don't have anger in my heart, but I understand injustice. I have travelled to work at that university for over 25 years. I see black students on campus. I see their hope and ambition. My own daughter aspires to go to university. But for me, the way I am treated, that hasn’t changed.

"My pastor told me that God wanted me to fight against injustice and that is why I became involved in this legal matter. He also asked me to forgive those boys, but it is not them I wish to forgive. It is their parents, for they made them that way."

The university's new rector, Prof Jonathan Jansen, told the newspaper that plans to integrate all students from January 2010 are going ahead.

"If we fail here in Bloemfontein, then South Africa will have failed as a nation."

- For the full story, click here.

  • Mike - 2009-10-12 07:57

    Boo hoo ! Get over it and stop basking in it........

  • Scott - 2009-10-12 08:06

    I in no way condone the treatment of these women, but for an 'uneducated woman' Rebecca Adams is very astute indeed:

    "After it came out politicians wanted to speak to me. I met the rector for the first time. We were given tea in his office. My family was hounded by the South African media. I am not an educated woman, but I knew I was being used..."

    Quite right, Madam. You were and still are being used as a pawn in a greater political game than anyone cares to admit.

  • Dave - 2009-10-12 08:07

    If this prank had been pulled on white poeple it would have been a semi-sick prank, now it's an international affair. Oh well! All's well that end well hey Koko. You won't need to clean any more thanks to the Sunday Times. We have so much more reportable stuff in this country than this drivel.

  • Robert - 2009-10-12 08:14

    I'm sure it was humiliating and deeply offensive for the cleaners. Those Reitz students can't have been too intelligent to do this sort of thing AND video it. Nevertheless I can't help but feel the govt. of this country has milked this incident for as much as they can get out of it. In a land of 20 000 murders and 16 000 road deaths per annum, what these students did was pretty paltry!

  • Dr Filemon - 2009-10-12 08:14

    Give them a kleenex. "I cleaned up their hostel and joked with them. I told them off if they made too much of a mess" seems like a friendly relationship. "it tasted metallic and foul" - then why carry on eating it?

  • wphc - 2009-10-12 08:29

    I strongly believe that the culture instilled at afrikaans residences is extremely warped. This issue needs to be addressed seriously at UFS, Potch, Tukkies and Maties. It is not healthy and perpetuates racism. Please don't generalize from these incidents and the best of luck to Prof Jansen.

  • anonymous - 2009-10-12 08:29

    Ag please man....Most of SA saw that video. You were laughing yourself through the whole episode. I don't condone what happened, but it most certainly wasn't half as bad as you make it out to be.

    Seriously, get over yourself. The hostel has been closed down, the kids are in for a reckoning yet you still choose to try and make it worse.

    Most of us went through way worse at school. I had to eat locusts, worms. I had to stand with bare feet on a stinking hot manhole cover. I had to push a thorn up a hill with my nose which eventually bled. It hurt, but I just took it and went on with life.

    Again, I say, I DO NOT condone what happened, but it really is time you moved on.

  • Chief - 2009-10-12 08:31

    Oh God be merciful to all racist people who see others through the eyes of the devil. Show them your tender mercies and love so that they may understand that you are the Creator and all people equal before you. We pray that the demon of racism is exorcised and that all people live in harmony and reverence of God. Forgive us father all of our sins, wrong attitudes, thoughts,words and actions. Touch our hearts with your unfailing love and let us know that you God are Love. We humble ourselves and give you all the Glory. in the name of your son Jesus whom you sent to die for us, we pray. Amen

  • coloured AWAAH - 2009-10-12 08:36

    i really am disappointed in these boys, fun or no fun, that is not a way to treat an elder, black or white, i studied in bloemfontein a beutiful city, but it has a lot of underlaying racism, esp at UFS, where everything is segregated, why is there still a need to separate black and white hostels, i believe that if one has a problem with mixed hostels, then they should go and find accomodation elsewhere, where they will be free to associate with any race they choose.

    i feel pity for these students that are so separated they think that they are living in their own orania or some azania, truth is, the rest of south africa is integrated, what a shock its ging to be when they leave tertiary and there is no reitz to run to.

  • Mary - 2009-10-12 08:37

    There is no excuse for the students'behaviour..totally unacceptable!

  • Sonali - 2009-10-12 08:38

    Obviously most of the commentators or all thus far are white, they wouldnt understand what racial humiliation is, and how deep it wounds you.

  • godfrey - 2009-10-12 08:39

    I want to sympathise with them, but at the same time i can't understand why grown ups can let boys humiliate them like that, why didn't they moer them?

  • POST MY COMMENTS PLEASE - 2009-10-12 08:40

    There is much crime in the country and the world is focused on this drivel. Rebecca Adams speaks very well for a person that is not "educated"

  • Ams - 2009-10-12 08:42

    This is disgusting and some of the comments are also pretty pathetic. All the above is justifying the behaviour of the students; clearly there are very big problems at Kovsies if these types of attitudes prevail. Those students are the epitomy of white male chauvinism; probably the big rugby players who can drink everyone under the table. Not very smart either. In having said that, the threats made by black students after the incident was alarming and downright scary.

    Get over it? Yeah, just like get over apartheid and forget it while I am driving a luxury car and living in a big house. I do agree that this issue was milked for all it was worth and then some. Unfortunately race is a politicised issue in SA and incidents like these will perpetuate the cycle.

  • James - 2009-10-12 08:42

    Then again, maybe the reason the rest of the world is interested is - why would 'young' people with no supposedly racial bias do such a thing? So unlike the 20 000 murders(??facts?) this is indicator of another kind of evil...

  • michael - 2009-10-12 08:46

    the comments above are a good reason why a story like this should be milked. yes it is a single incident that was picked up on but one that is replicated in towns and cities across show so little compassion to these humiliated people shows just how much work we still have ahead in building a caring and dignified would you feel if some older men forced your son or daughter to do something like this and then people complain when they tell their story. most of these incidents dont come to light because they are not filmed however we do need to look at this issue and see how we can move forward together, not ignore it or scale down its impact..

  • fraud - 2009-10-12 09:00

    The reason why this story made big news is that it has publicized the real SA. Those boys are not an exception, but rather the norm. The sooner we acknowledge this reality about our country and ourselves, the sooner we can start making strides towards a non racial society (which at the moment does not exist).

  • Mark - 2009-10-12 09:03

    I can't condone what these four boys did, however they are young boys. I cant believe they have criminal charges against them for a stupid prank. Kick them out of University, yes. They obviously don't want to spend their time studying but criminal charges?!?!Our 30 something year old 'boy' malema spews out racist chants everyday, and not even a slap on the wrist?!?!? His young and ignorant we are told, and so should be given leeway. His just lucky to be bee approved.

  • lane - 2009-10-12 09:04

    its sad to hear people talking like this when these women lives and dignity has been dented. South Africa is place of shame where our mothers wake up every morning to clean up on young spoilt white kids who their mothers and fathers teach them how to disrespect elderly.

  • at wankers ( filemon,robert,dave,scott,and mike ) from Allan - 2009-10-12 09:05

    I would like to know how you would feel if your parents were subjected to this "paltry" behaviour.condoning and trivialising this injustice says a lot about your humanity . you wankers and juju boy are cut from the same striped cloth , difference is the colour of the material may vary , the fabric however remains the same

  • Norman du Plooy - 2009-10-12 09:07

    One question remain: How whould these "innocent" white Reitz students felt if their own mothers were treated as such by black male students? Would it still have been a joke to them? I think not. I am a white South African and I hope these guys go to jail to be an example to others. This incident clearly shows that these boys were brought up with the thinking that is ok to disrespect certain people.

  • GERALDINE PHAKEDI - 2009-10-12 09:07

    Mr dave im sure wat your saying but it sounds like youre almost disputing the fact wether this is a racial issue(black and white)and if thats the issue i stand amzed>wkae up dude this is nt about your colour whta those guys did is purely a matter of lake of respect firsly for God,themselves and those woman.i dnt thnk that if it was done to a white cleaner who was also not as priviledged as the students to attend varsity it wuld hv bin a lite thing,its about the intire human race,and please mAybe you shuld get to look beyond thew colour of your skin THERS NO BLACK NOR WHITE GAL3:28.

  • CHRIS MOSTERT - 2009-10-12 09:07

    As far as I can remember the ladies seemed to enjoy the "fun", a nasty prank that got out of hand. Now they are crying for the cameras, and probably getting a lot of money for it! People (incl a lot of innocent white folk) are killed daily without politicians reacting nearly as upset as in this case. SNAP OUT OF IT!!!!

  • vlakkie - 2009-10-12 09:09

    Truth be told , everyone involved, white black etc. knew each other well and knew exactly what was going on....they were messing about,making a movie, mocking a new policy they were being forced fed ! If you quote someone out of context or if you edit a movie in a certain way, the message and interpretation changes. This movie was edited just to racially challenging for the new political "baase" The cleaners involved are now just enjoying all the attention...hope they sleep with a clean concious. We know they are being told what to tell the is not the truth

  • A DJ - 2009-10-12 09:16

    At what point did these cleaners think that maybe this was going too far? Were they forced to do this video? Surely when you on your knees eating food out of a plate on the floor you think Whoa! something ain't right here and I refuse to continue! Sorry I'm lost here can some please give me direction? Another thing, this is what white people have to undergo as part of their initiation into that hostel, the whole point to the video is realised that if you want integration then black people would need to undergo the initiation ritual just like whaite people, and guess how that turns out? Apparently it's racist to do it to a black person but ok to do it to a white person, if you want intigration then black and white must be equal right? Therefore, it cannot be racist if white people are subjected to the same thing as black people, or are we seeing a typical poor me I'm black?

  • SonOfAfrica - 2009-10-12 09:22

    These boys must be severely punished for the barbaric crime they committed. A clear message has to be sent out to other racist white south africans that there is no place for racists in this country.

  • SonOfAfrica - 2009-10-12 09:22

    These boys must be severely punished for the barbaric crime they committed. A clear message has to be sent out to other racist white south africans that there is no place for racists in this country.

  • GWB - 2009-10-12 09:23

    You can see clearly that they opened a bottle and that the ladies was faking the bad taste of the food. Tipical of them to climb the gravy train and play the victim. She said herself "she used to be "invisible" until the video was leaked" .....This has become a political circus (whats new) Politics is this countries worse enemy. Only white people are rasist and people like julius malema can say and do what he wants. Just like all the newspapers reporting sensation news and not the truth.... who can we believe

  • Eric - 2009-10-12 09:24

    Get over it.

  • Point Blank@fraud - 2009-10-12 09:27

    The norm? You talk twakkie my friend, show us other racist videos to back up your mischevious claim.

  • Steyn - 2009-10-12 09:31

    As an Afrikaner I am ashamed of the behaviour of my "brothers". My sincere apologies, for the unacceptable behaviour of these poor examples of human beings. To the boys here, Nice going guys. You are responsible for the closing of the Deneys Reitz hostel. I dare all to go and read about this great man, he would have been as insulted at this as we all are!

  • @Mark and others who think thios is just a joke - 2009-10-12 09:31

    Would you still think this is a joke from "young boys" if this was done by black boys to white women whose job was to clean their rooms? It's shocking how insensitive some white people can be. Until you have been on the other side of racism - being treated as if you were not human; you have no idea how racism goes to the depth of your soul. Supporters of apartheid and their offsprings have no right to trivialise the suffering black people have endured for centuries. To them even Apartheid was a joke, no wonder they tell us everyday that we must forget about it. It was just a bad dream.....Now we know what kind of people we are dealing with.

  • jfky - 2009-10-12 09:32

    I smell Malema in these comments...

  • ROCK - 2009-10-12 09:32

    I am disgusted to see the comments of some of the people i share this country with. These people were not students at the univeristy who were being initiated...they were workers...some of them 3 times the age of the student. How can we say that they must move on and get over it...they were humliated by boys that were old enough to be their children. It just shows their upbringing and the type of social envronment that they live in.

  • MissK - 2009-10-12 09:33

    Having studied at UFS, and knowing how much racism still exists there, that story hasn't being milked enough. those boys they make Julius Malema's utterances make sense. Those boys make me sick even to this day.

  • ashk - 2009-10-12 09:33

    If any of the 18000 murders that take place here every year were taken as seriously as this silly video, we'd be further down the road towards solving our far more serious crime problem.

  • Ex-UFS - 2009-10-12 09:35

    Oooo Please- What happened to them (irrespective their freaken colour!!!!) happened to many a 1st year during initiation. I still clearly remember how my buddies at Malhuis had to drink some horrible mix of fluids and they had to puke right after drinking it. Guess what they all survived and laughed about it afterwards. Amazing if white does it one white it never gets reported but when white on black its worldnews. Take off your black and white coloured glasses for heavens sake. This was not a recial incident it was a joke went wrong due to politics and people wanting to make a meal of it because it was two different colours in the scenario. You honestly have to be a racist to see racisim in everything just because of colours of skin! **** Africa will always be backwards to the rest of the world because Africa will always use colour as a backdoor escape. It was a stupid initiation ritual that went wrong, similar rituals happen for decades at other hostels but COLOUR changed the ritual into a racist attack. PATHETIC

  • people - 2009-10-12 09:36

    why do some people bring other unrelated issues when commenting. This is about racism....then they comment about high levles of crime,etc. why?....why cant you tackle issues without trying to justify your comments with other irrelevant issues...racism is racism and it hurts... if there is a platform open for us to debate on issues that have surfaced, lets use it for that purpose... or maybe its because we are a democratic country..... say what you want to say anytime, anywhere...

  • AND another thing - 2009-10-12 09:37

    I thnk the key to this being such and issue lies in the way news24 only seems to allow commenting on the racially charged items. Interesting, don't you think?

  • green skin - 2009-10-12 09:39

    No-one forced them to take part in the video. during the video they were full of smiles and laughter showing that they were having fun. they are just climbing on the racist wagon, they probably get paid by the ANCYL.

  • Russ - 2009-10-12 09:46

    Most of the comments left here are missing the point. Under no circumstances should any person violate another humans rights. Age or race is irrelevant, all humanity should be loved and respected regardless of circumstance. I agree that the parents should be held accountable for their children's actions, as they should be taught to respect all humanity young or old or whatever race they are. Many children are tormented at school any many of them suffer for the rest of their lives, as they loose self-confidence and trust in others. As far as racial discrimination goes we need to become a nation of equal opportunity and form a community where we can live in harmony. This means eradicating things like AA and other organizations setup for specific races. If we do not create equality there will always be racial division like there is in America. The past is gone all that matters is what we do today, because this is what will decide our future as a nation.

  • Biza - 2009-10-12 09:50

    In the University of Stellenbosch, white students were almost expelled for doing the same thing to fellow white students. To hear the whiteys here try to justify this rubbish done to grown women sickens me and makes one lose respect for ur race

  • Adi - 2009-10-12 09:52

    I am sorry i ever read the comments on this article. What a pity that we have to share ths beautiful place with people like Mike, Scott, Dave, "Dr Filemon" and anonymous (I'm sure there will be many more who share their view). Imagine this happened to your mothers... would you still feel the same way then?

  • Young White Male - 2009-10-12 09:55

    If what these idiots have done was not disrespectful and unjust it was stupid. Stupidity ordinarily begets the same the same punishment. You can't defend this, political or not. These dumbasses are going to be eating some crappy meals themselves.

  • Logan - 2009-10-12 09:58

    Lol...only in SA. The disrespect and utter disdain shown for another's dignity by these boys is only overshadowed by the comments here condoning such behaviour. "just a little prank" I suppose all of you will encourage your kids to do this sort of thing...u guys make me sick!

  • Shazzie - 2009-10-12 10:05

    Scott- you don't need to be educated to have common sense. Sometimes so-called uneducated people have more common sense that those who are supposed to be educated, so your comment that this lady was very astute for someone who is uneducated is in poor taste. It's about time these privileged chilren learned to treat EVERYONE with respect, which seems to be very lacking in their home environment if this is how they treated the ladies there to provide a service. That's what's wrong with most of the so-called rich kids - white and black - they don't have respect for others.

  • UJ Alumni - 2009-10-12 10:07

    Well all I can say is that the cleaners at my UJ hostel was treated with great respect by each and every student. How bloody sad that people would actually do this and think it funny or even remotely acceptable!

  • Prophets - 2009-10-12 10:11

    The wrath of God will be upon all those people who treat human being like animals.They are mistreating what God create as ruler of animals and all that lives on planet earth.Father, I pray that you change this white people attitudes and soften their hearts.Let them understand that before you we are equal,Let there be peace and shower us with your unconditional love. I believe that one day, through your power, SA will be a better place to live, Amen Lord

  • johan - 2009-10-12 10:29

    Quite a few of you remarked that you don't condone this behaviour... and then you go ahead and do just that. There are no excuses for those boys' behaviour.

  • Marc - 2009-10-12 10:32

    Much as I agree that these students behaviour was despicable, we all know that racist attacks occur every single day in peoples homes, and are more often than not accompanied by extreme violence and in many cases, death. But this seems to be less of an issue. Go figure - political correctness in the new SA