FF Plus wants probe into varsity's treatment of 'blackface' students

2016-02-15 18:27
Poekie Briedenhann and a friend pose for a selfie at a space-themed residence party. (Twitter)

Poekie Briedenhann and a friend pose for a selfie at a space-themed residence party. (Twitter)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg - The FF Plus on Monday said it wanted the Human Rights Commission to probe how Stellenbosch University treated two students who were wrongfully accused of being involved in a "blackface" incident.

The party has laid a complaint with the HRC, said MP Anton Alberts.

The complaint is centred around the institutions alleged breaching of the students' dignity in terms of Section 10 of the Bill of Rights, as well as the infringing on their right to freedom of expression in terms of Section 16 of the Bill of Rights.

"According to reports in Rapport [February 14 2016], the students were summarily, temporary suspended from their residences, they were not given the opportunity to give their side of the case, they were apparently initially denied access to legal representation and they were subjected to a humiliating disciplinary proceeding," said Alberts.

He said the the two students were unnecessarily subjected to trauma which would make a lasting impression on them.

The students caused controversy on social media after posting a picture of themselves in what appeared at the time to be dark paint, possibly brown or black, and were subsequently accused of donning "blackfaces".

One of the students took to social media to apologise for any offence the picture had caused, but emphasised that the pair had been dressed up as purple aliens for a space-themed residence party.

During investigations into the incident, the university had placed the two on suspension. The suspension was lifted on Friday.

The university said the decision was taken on the recommendation of the Equality Unit, following an extensive investigation into the incident.

University management said it accepted the unit's recommendation on Thursday afternoon and instructed that the students should be invited to return to the residence concerned. The one student was also reinstated in her role as a mentor.

Vice Chancellor Wim de Villiers said at the time that it was clear the students did not have the intention, direct or indirect, of causing offence or harm to any student or staff member.

"There was a perception, enhanced by the impact of social media, that this was a blackface incident. This is, however, not the case.

"Management regrets the trauma that the two students, the house committee, the residence head and the residents of Heemstede experienced," he said.

De Villiers said, even though he was satisfied that the correct procedures were followed, he realised that this had been a difficult time for the two students in question.

"The university will continue to support them as they are reintegrated into their residence."

Read more on:    ff plus  |  cape town

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy

ADVERTORIAL: The Competition Commission of South Africa is conducting advocacy work in the South African automotive aftermarket industry and has gazetted a Draft Code of Conduct for public comment.

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.