Student Charged and Suspended for Racist Incident…
In the early hours of Sunday, May 15th, a racially motivated incident took place at a Stellenbosch University residence, Huis Marais. Theuns Du Toit, a white student, allegedly urinated on the belongings of a black student, Babalo Ndwayana. Ndwayana woke up to find a drunk Du Toit in his room, standing at his desk and urinating on his laptop and other belongings. Ndwayana caught the incident on video and is heard asking Du Toit why he is urinating in his room. Du Toit replies that he is waiting for someone while he continues urinating. According to reports, when Ndwayana was no longer recording the incident, Du Toit allegedly said urinating on Ndwayana’s belongings as he did is “a white boy thing.”
Ndwayana and Du Toit, both students at the university, know each other due to Du Toit being a friend of Ndwayana’s roommate. Du Toit, a first-year BA Law student was suspended by the university, which promises the possibility of further action after an investigation. “The university strongly condemns the destructive, hurtful and racist incident that was captured on a cellphone video in the Huis Marais residence… A further swift but detailed investigation will determine the final outcomes,” read a statement released by the university.
Ndwayana, who is also a first-year student studying agricultural business management, proceeded to the Stellenbosch South African Police Services (SAPS) station to lay charges against Du Toit on Tuesday, May 17th. The SAPS spokesman Captain Frederick Van Wyk confirmed that Ndwayana had indeed laid charges against the accused. The charges laid include breaking and entering, malicious damage to property, and racism. As he left the police station, the young man mentioned how the incident had left him traumatized. He added that the intense media scrutiny had left him exhausted and eager to go home and rest.
The racist incident has caused an uproar in South Africa with criticism coming from various spheres of society. Students at the institution of higher education have been some of the most vocal, holding protests aimed against racism and the university. Hundreds of them made their way to the university management offices to make their voices heard. “This is the wake-up call that the institution needs, that students need,” said Viwe Kobokane, the leader of the University Student Representative Council (SRC). “You can’t go around doing whatever you want and there are no consequences for your actions.”
“We want to see some institutional changes. It is pretty evident that perhaps the culture in Huis Marais (the residence where the incident occurred) is not conducive to a transformational and progressive Stellenbosch,” she added.
Reaction of the Student Congress…
The South African Students Congress Organisation (SASCO) at Stellenbosch University was present at the protest, represented by chairperson Queen Majikijela. “We [black people] are tired, and I emphasize the fact that we are tired,” said Majikijela at the protest. “When incidents such as this happen, the university sweeps it under the carpet. The university merely sends out a statement saying they condemn [it].”
The South African Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Technology, Blade Nzimande, strongly condemned the incident. “There is no place for such behavior or people at our universities,” the minister said in a statement. “The incident, like similar past incidents, points to a fundamental question about the continued persistence of oppressive social structures in parts of South African society that fosters a disposition in which a young person endows himself [with] the right to behave in the most egregious and abominable racist manner against a fellow human being,” he said.
Stellenbosch University (SU) is located in the town of Stellenbosch, located in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. One of the best institutions of tertiary education in the country, SU is ranked third best in South Africa. While the university is well renowned for the quality of its education, it has a troublesome history of racist incidents. Days before this more recent matter, another racist incident was reported. According to reports, a dance was being held for law students when an Indian student requested that an Indian song be played. A white student then allegedly made racist remarks that were offensive and degrading.
SU has also been criticized for the manner in which they react to these racist issues. Babalo Ndwayana’s father, Mkuseli Kaduka, noted how he had not been contacted by the university immediately after the incident took place, He made an effort to contact SU via email but only received an automated response. “The residence management moved [Du Toit] from Huis Marais to another residence, which I feel is not the solution at all. You need to root out past behavior,” claimed Kaduka. Kaduka reportedly called for Du Toit’s expulsion, mentioning how the racist incident serves as a distraction from what students have gone to university, which is to study.