Fri, Feb 29, 2008 - Page 6 News List

Protests in South Africa after racist, abusive video

THE GUARDIAN , JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA

A "barbaric" video of white South African students forcing black university workers to eat meat contaminated with urine caused widespread outrage and protests on Wednesday.

Four University of the Free State students filmed themselves drinking in a bar and then one of them urinating into a stew before forcing five black staff members, four of them women, to eat it at their dormitory on the Bloemfontein campus accompanied by shouts of "take it, take it."

The women can be seen on their knees eating the stew from metal cups and then spitting it out in disgust. They were also forced to perform athletic tasks.

The video was made in September, apparently in protest at the university's racial equality policy, but has only now made public.

Two of the students have been expelled and the other two have already completed their studies, but all now face criminal charges after state prosecutors met university authorities yesterday to discuss the case.

The public airing of the film has added to rising racial tensions following riots on the campus last week over the integration program at the university, which has remained overwhelmingly white even after the end of apartheid.

The ruling African National Congress's youth league described the video as "barbaric."

Some predominantly white groups were also quick to denounce the video. The rightwing and mostly Afrikaner Freedom Front Plus condemned the "atrocities screened on a video."

A civil rights group linked to a mostly white trade union described the students actions as "inexcusable."

The university's rector, Frederick Fourie, told the BBC he was "extremely upset about the incident." However, South Africa's statutory human rights commission yesterday said it was investigating whether the university authorities "allow and condone violations of human rights."

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