Last week we covered a story of a video clip showing elderly South African women who were coerced by non-African University Students to participate in dehumanising acts including eating urine stew and racing against each other.
We can now report that the South African university students who caused outrage by filming themselves humiliating and abusing a group of black cleaners have denied being racists.
Elderly women were on their knees
“(We) are not racists and had no intention of humiliating or degrading the employees concerned, or black people generally,” two of the four students said in a statement released by their lawyer.
The students have also denied urinating on food which was fed to the cleaners in a “fear factor style” contest.
The scene showing the elderly black women on their hands and knees, gagging as they try to consume a meat stew from dishes on the ground, shocked South Africa, a country where race is still an explosive issue.
The tape shows one of the students preparing the stew and then taking the dish into the bathroom and apparently urinating into it.
The students now claim that the scene was a hoax and the liquid came from a bottle of water.
Lawyer Nico Naude, acting for the students, said the furore over the tape was “a farce”.
He said the video was a satirical comment on plans for greater racial integration at the university, and was due to have been shown at a “cultural evening” at the institution where a multi-racial audience would have laughed at themselves.
But the argument that the video was harmless fun is unlikely to convince either the university, where there have been days of protests, or the police.
Two of the four students have been barred from the campus at the University of the Free State where they were studying. The other two completed their courses last year.
They all face possible criminal charges.
A South African trade union has barred the cleaners who were mocked in the video from speaking to the media and the circumstances of their involvement are not clear.
The students claim they were willing participants but one of the cleaners admitted being “traumatised” to The Star newspaper.
The video was made in September and was released this week by a jilted girlfriend of one of the students.
Koku Adomdza, Director of The 1990 Trust said, “the video is hard to dispute as a racist manipulation that dehumanises the female employees of the University, and compromises their fundamental human rights. The honourable thing for the alleged culprits to do is to firstly acknowledge their grossly offensive and unacceptable misdemeanour and apologise to these vulnerable women. Given that the victims are old enough to be parents of the students, three critical questions could be asked. Would the students have put their own parents through the same ordeal? Would they subject their loved ones, siblings or friends through similar demeaning experience? Would they submit people of their own phenotype to the same abuse? The answer clearly is no”.
“There are a lot of non-African folks out there who rightly condemn these acts. But it needs to be realised that a lot of people of African origin, wherever they may live on planet earth, suffer grotesque human rights abuses in silence all the time. The few courageous people that dare challenge racism or advocate on behalf of the silent majority are either labelled as self-appointed or victimised through other false accusations such as being corrupt etc by neo-racists disguised in official power titles e.g. politicans, civil servants etc. etc. We again call on the authorities concerned to take appropriate action against the perpetrators”.