New initiation video surfaces at Free State university

A second initiation video has surfaced at the University of the Free State, this time with white students as the “victims”.

It shows four white students at the predominantly black Villa Bravado men’s residence having water thrown at them. They are made to stand on one leg, and later crawl around in the water on the floor in front of other students.

Students brought it to university management’s attention earlier this year, and it took note of the initiation “with great dismay”, it said in a statement on Monday (August 2, 2010). The video was made in October 2009.

Dean of student affairs Rudi Buys had suspended the student head of the hostel Chris Nthakeni. Disciplinary measures were also started against the residence head for his alleged involvement.

The university was convinced that the event was not a case of black students acting against white students, as black members of the residence committee underwent the same initiation.

The Freedom Front Plus Youth at the university condemned the handling of the matter, given its past “extreme” reactions to such cases.

“It shows double standards,” Freedom Front Plus Youth spokesperson Wouter Wessels said in a statement.

He said rector Jonathan Jansen had warned that action would be taken against students who took part in initiations, and wanted to know why steps were “secretly” taken against Nthakeni.

Nthakeni was not, as in other cases, suspended from the university or the hostel.

“This does not show transparency,” said Wessels.

In the case of the Reitz video, the students were immediately expelled and the hostel closed.

The four former university students, who made a humiliating video involving four black university workers at the Reitz men’s hostel, were each fined R20 000 last week after being found guilty of crimen injuria by the Bloemfontein magistrate’s court.

Wessels said in 2009 Armentum hostel’s entire residence committee was expelled following initiations. In the same year, a student in the Karee residence was expelled.

Wessels called for the Villa Bravado’s students who took part in the initiations, its residence committee and residence head to be punished.

The youth organisation wanted the Human Rights Commission to take action against the students, as it did in the Reitz case.

In the statement, Jansen hoped the Villa Bravado case was the last of initiations.

“The university clearly and regularly communicates to students that initiation is strictly forbidden.”

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