A Stellenbosch University professor, who agreed to speak anonymously, said the incident was only the tip of the iceberg where racism issues at the institution were concerned. “It is not an isolated incident, either. The pathology of such humiliation manifests in many forms, blatant and hidden. There are many hidden incidents and many more covert, silent, inexpressible incidents,” the professor said. The institution has been the talk of the town since the weekend, after a video emerged on social media of student Theuns du Toit urinating on his fellow student Babalo Ndwayana’s laptop at Stellenbosch University. “What are you doing…
A Stellenbosch University professor, who agreed to speak anonymously, said the incident was only the tip of the iceberg where racism issues at the institution were concerned.
“It is not an isolated incident, either. The pathology of such humiliation manifests in many forms, blatant and hidden. There are many hidden incidents and many more covert, silent, inexpressible incidents,” the professor said.
The institution has been the talk of the town since the weekend, after a video emerged on social media of student Theuns du Toit urinating on his fellow student Babalo Ndwayana’s laptop at Stellenbosch University.
“What are you doing in my room,” Ndwayana asks of Du Toit in his video of the incident.
The South African Students Congress has claimed “the racist response was that it is what they do to black boys”. Ndwayana has laid charges against Du Toit.
READ MORE: Stellenbosch University: Student lays charges following ‘racist’ incident
Black students and staff all face challenges
“There is a fear of victimisation when the institutional management does not even recognise its blind spots because white ignorance and innocence are so present and so excusable.,” the professor told The Citizen on Tuesday.
“My son was a student and would not ever feel welcome at Stellenbosch University. When he dated white girls, they would target him. Fortunately, he is qualified now and glad to be done with this institution.”
The professor said the university was also not welcoming to black students and staff.
“[It] does not even have a transformation plan and there is no accountability unless the black student body threatens to take steps. The students and staff do not trust this institution,” said the professor.
South African Human Rights Commissioner Advocate André Hurtley Gaum said the commission was investigating the matter. Gaum said it appeared Ndwayana’s rights were violated.
“We have already received two complaints. If the allegations are true, this was an atrocious and despicable incident,” he said.
ALSO READ: ‘I want him to get expelled,’ says Stellenbosch student whose laptop was urinated on
“The commission is attempting to get hold of the affected student. We call on him and other potential witnesses to come forward.”
Professor of education at the University of the Witwatersrand Mary Metcalfe said this behaviour was unacceptable and the matter should be dealt with within the university.
“There should be a restorative dimension and an opportunity for the individual to reflect, learn and grow,” she said.
Professor at the Centre for the Advancement of Non-Racialism and Democracy at the Nelson Mandela University Christi van der Westhuizen said a proper investigation was needed. She added the university should be praised for its swift reaction to suspend the student.
“On the face of it, it does seem like a racist attack by the white student on the black student,” she said.
“The use of ‘boy’ was a word historically to humiliate black men. And while he was urinating and how he said the [word] suggested strongly he wanted to add insult to injury,” she said.
The bigger question was about the institutional culture, considering other issues reported at the same male residence in the past.
“To urinate on property is a way to humiliate somebody and is considered a deep insult. It’s not just to insult him but to cause financial damage and attack the person,” she said.
Dr Ntsikelelo Breakfast from the department of history and political studies at Nelson Mandela University said not all white people should be combed with the same brush when talking about institutional racism. He had worked and studied at Stellenbosch University.
“They are not all the same. Some white people were okay,” he said. The incident was an expression of racism but not the feeling of all the people at the university.
“It was common knowledge Stellenbosch University contributed to the apartheid architecture; it was at the heart of it. Whether you like it or not, race was a central way of examining things in the body politic of this country,” he said.
Systemic racism was still part of the present because there were people who wanted to hold on to the past and looked down on people based on race.
“It could have happened anywhere. Every conflict has a trigger, there might have been other things at play but now this whole thing exploded,” he said.