Stellenbosch ‘blackface’ incident was actually purple-face

2016-02-08 11:30
The image of Poekie Briedenhann and her friend at a space-themed party which gave the appearance of 'black/brown' paint initially. (Twitter)

The image of Poekie Briedenhann and her friend at a space-themed party which gave the appearance of 'black/brown' paint initially. (Twitter)

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Maties unit investigates 'blackface'

2016-02-05 18:01

The newly-formed Equality Unit at Stellenbosch University is investigating an incident at one of its female residences this week. Two white students appear in a photograph, their bodies and faces covered in dark pigment at a social event.WATCH

Cape Town - The students involved in the latest incident of "blackface" at Stellenbosch University have apologised for any offence their actions caused, but have said they were actually dressed as purple aliens at a space-themed residence party.

In the latest incident to embroil Stellenbosch University in accusations of racism, student Poekie Briedenhann took to social media, after photos of the pair on Instagram covered in purple paint drew controversy.

"We are aware that our actions in the #blackfacing incident last night at the Heemstede stellar space party where painting our bodies dark purple and cover[ed] with glitter appeared as black and thus as attempt to demean and exotify blackness," she said.

"We apologise for any offence occurred and take full responsibility for this."

In other pictures, Briedenhann and her friend can be seen sporting foil hats and shoes along with the purple body paint.

Both Briedenhann and her friend have been suspended, pending an investigation into the incident.

Briedenhann said the pair were working with the university to resolve the matter, and thanked those who supported them for acknowledging that "no bad intentions were meant".

'Put an end to #blackface'

Open Stellenbosch representatives, meanwhile, slammed the incident on Friday.

"On Friday morning, we woke up to yet another #blackface incident at the University," a Facebook statement from the group read.

"In 2014, two white students mimicked the same racist colonial construct, for which the university decided not to institute any disciplinary action. As a result, two female students at Heemstede residence picked up where their predecessors left off.

"To put an end to #blackface at Stellenbosch, we call upon the university to expel the two students involved in this incident with immediate effect and to remove the residence head and committee which allowed this incident to take place under their watch.

"The university went on a massive PR campaign last year on its commitment to transformation. We now call upon the university and Wim de Villiers to honour that commitment.”

Another Stellenbosch University civil body though, Stellies Rage, has blasted the Open Stellenbosch movement and the university for labelling the latest incident "blackface".

"F*** you Stellenbosch University and f*** you Open Stellenboschfor dubbing this blackface and suspending the girls. What a joke. I hope the girls sue the shit out of you for this. #‎jesuispoekie."

In 2014, a pair of students painted themselves black and dressed up as tennis players Venus and Serena Williams.

"Hanging out with the William sisters last night at the Boli’s 21st. Let’s hope they don’t get kicked out of the varsity for this one,” read the caption of a photo posted on Facebook at the time.

- Read more: Another 'blackface' incident at Stellenbosch University

Read more on:    stellenbosch university  |  cape town  |  racism

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