Video of students abusing black workers condemned in South Africa

Other News Materials 27 February 2008 14:43 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Workers at South Africa's University of the Free State were due to hold a protest later Wednesday over a video reportedly showing four students humiliating black workers, including serving them food on which one student had urinated.

The video, which surfaced Tuesday according to university authorities, was apparently recorded by a group of white male students in September in reaction to a move to integrate black and white students in the same residences.

In the video one student is seeing urinating into a bowl of food before serving it to five unsuspecting cleaning staff - four women and a man - to hoots of laughter from his friends, several newspapers reported.

The worker were also reportedly given alcohol to drink, told to run a race and play rugby in the video, which the university said was made by occupants of a male residence, apparently as part of an assignment.

The video reportedly ends with one of the women washing the dishes with the words "That, at the end of the day, is what we think of integration" in Afrikaans across the screen.

Hundreds of students, workers and staff handed over a memorandum to university management Wednesday condemning the video and calling for the temporary closure of the men's residence involved.

The university's vice-chancellor Frederick Fourie condemned the video in a statement as a gross violation of the workers' dignity and said the university would press charges against the students concerned.

The workers involved "were traumatised," he said. "They unwittingly took part in something, in the context where they trusted people, and it came out very different from what they surely understood."

Two of the four students have already completed their studies. The university was taking steps to suspend the other two, he said.

Fourie admitted the university in the traditionally conservative province was "going through a difficult time" with hostel integration, which was the subject of riots last week at the university, causing millions of rands in damage.

The South Africa Students Congress condemned the students' "barbaric behaviour" as reminiscent of the apartheid era and said sympathy strikes would be held across the country.