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A video's smack of apartheid sparks outrage

Latest update : 2008-02-28

A student-made video showing black campus cleaners forced to eat soup containing urine is bringing back the painful memories of the country's decades-long apartheid regime. (Story: B. Coll)

JOHANNESBURG, Feb 27 (Reuters) - A video of white South
African university students feeding black campus cleaners soup
they had urinated in has caused outrage in a country scarred by
decades of apartheid.
 

University classes were cancelled and staff and students
protested on Wednesday, demanding action against the four men.
 

The video shows one student urinating into a container of
soup placed on a toilet seat at the University of the Free
State, situated in a conservative Afrikaner farming region.
 

"This is the final ingredient," he said before heating the
soup in a microwave oven and giving it to the elderly cleaners
-- four women and one man.
 

They were also taken to a bar where they drank alcohol and
danced to Afrikaans music in what was portrayed as an initiation
ceremony.
 

The leaked video -- filmed last year -- sparked black and
white students to demonstrate at the campus, marching to the
Reitz men's residence where it was made. One placard read: "Stop
This White Arrogancy".
 

Police used stun grenades to disperse the crowd. Five
students were arrested and there were sporadic incidents of
intimidation and damage to property, the university said.
 

"The boers (Afrikaners) lived happily in Reitz until the day
that the previously disadvantaged discovered the word
integration in a dictionary," said one of the students in the
video.
 

"Reitz was then forced to integrate and we started our own
selection process."
 


 

GAGGING INTO BUCKETS
 

The Young Communist League of South Africa said the video
reflected that some Afrikaner students at the university still
"regard our people as inferior human beings equivalent to pigs."
 

The video, released by South Africa's eTV, has made big news
in the country, where white minority rule ended with
multi-racial elections in 1994.
 

In a front-page story headlined "The aparthate video", The
Star newspaper ran a sequence of photos of the footage, which
shows the elderly cleaners on their knees gagging into buckets
after drinking the contaminated soup.
 

 "They should go to jail, because obviously they don't know
what it is to pay for something that you have done," Pamela
Sigidi, a student at another university, told Reuters.
 

"Because all the time that black people have had to suffer,
they don't know anything about suffering."
 

The university said it had instructed its attorneys to file
criminal charges against the students.
 

"This follows other action taken late yesterday to prohibit
two of the four students from the Reitz men's residence, from
the campus," spokesman Anton Fisher said in a statement.
 

"The management has also suspended lectures today in a
proactive step to allow the emotions of staff and students to
calm down. Lectures will resume tomorrow." he added.
 

Two of the students in the video had completed their studies
and are no longer on campus.
 

Date created : 2008-02-28

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