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SAHRC to investigate Stellenbosch University urination incident amid growing calls for student’s expulsion

University’s Juridical Society flags second case of racism, this time at law dance

Nivashni Nair Senior reporter
A screenshot from the video of Stellenbosch University student Theuns du Toit urinating on a black student's desk and belongings.
A screenshot from the video of Stellenbosch University student Theuns du Toit urinating on a black student's desk and belongings.
Image: screenshot

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has confirmed it will investigate Theuns du Toit for violating a fellow student’s rights when he urinated on his belongings, as more than 85,000 people have called for his expulsion from Stellenbosch University.

On Tuesday the SAHRC’s Andre Gaum told Newsroom Afrika the commission had received two complaints against the law student at its Western Cape office.

“The commission decided to investigate the matter as on the face of it, or prima facie, it appears the violation of the affected student’s rights have taken place. If these allegations are true, this was an atrocious and despicable incident.

“The facts needs to be determined by the commission first, and we call on everyone to wait for the commission to conclude its investigation so we can establish exactly what the facts are,” he said.

Gaum said the commission was attempting to contact the victim, Babalo Ndwayana.

He said the commission’s investigation would include assessing the video footage of the incident, the source of the video and testimony from Ndwayana and Du Toit.

Du Toit is accused of entering Ndwayana’s room at the Huis Marais residence and urinating on his books, laptop and desk in the early hours of Sunday morning. A video of the incident is circulating on social media.

Ndwayana can be heard asking the other student who had barged into his room: “Why are you peeing by my room?” 

The perpetrator says “huh”, and the shocked victim repeats the question. Still urinating, the white student replies: “I’m waiting for someone.”

When the black student inquires further, the white student responds by referring to him as “boy”. Du Toit reportedly said it is what they do to black boys.

An online petition started by Anke Spies called for Du Toit’s expulsion for the “racially motivated attack”.

“This action is a blatant violation of the victim’s human rights, as protected by the constitution. Du Toit has been suspended from the university, but this is not a justified consequence for his actions. He has violated another student’s human dignity and needs to be removed from the university,” the petition states.

The petition was launched on the online petition platform Change.org on Monday and had 86,340 signatures by 9.15am on Wednesday.

Venite Clayton, who signed the petition, said: “I’m signing because you can’t have a university with the motto ‘moving forward together’ and then allow someone like this within your walls.”

“I don’t condone dehumanisation,” wrote Sinethemba Mbele from Durban.

Johannesburg’s Tanz Claassen said: “This type of behaviour does not belong in any society, let alone an academic and learning and development space.”

Song request leads to racial slur

On Tuesday, Stellenbosch University’s Juridical Society (JV/S)  said during the past week it was made aware of two separate events involving law students that need to be publicly addressed.

“The JV/S is appalled at the incident which took place at the law dance last Thursday. The student affected was made to feel humiliated when another law student allegedly verbally abused her.

“It involved the request by an Indian student that an Indian song be played. Upon this request, a white law student allegedly made abhorrent racist and defamatory comments that are offensive and degrading.

“The comments were reportedly witnessed by another law student, who failed to assist and laughed in response when asked for help from the victim. Until this date the victim has not received a satisfactory apology for harm suffered.”

Stellenbosch University said it was in discussion with individuals, attendees of the dance, faculty leadership and student representatives to ascertain the facts.

“Authorities have also met with the affected student, and she has also been assisted in the process of reporting the matter to the university’s Equality Unit. The law faculty will ensure she has access to the necessary counselling services,” the institution said.

Juridical Society calls for Du Toit’s expulsion

The JV/S said it was “disgusted” by the urinating incident.

“This dehumanising incident by the perpetrator, who felt entitled and safe to conduct such actions, is partly due to the entrenched societal protection of white individuals in this country. The JV/S acknowledges the reality of black and marginalised groups within Stellenbosch that have been and are constantly being subjected to systemic racism,” it said.

While the incident at Huis Marais is under external investigation, the society called for Du Toit’s expulsion.

“Based on the gravity of the Huis Marais situation and the context within which it took place, the JV/S calls for expulsion pending the results of the investigation of the Equality Unit, if held to be of a racist nature. Upon this finding, the JV/S implores the institution to show its commitment to antiracism by treating all acts of racism on campus with the highest priority, seriousness and punishment possible.

“The Equality Unit must contact the victim of each incident as a matter of urgency and not leave the onus on the victims to ensure follow-ups. The victims must be informed of the processes available to them and be assisted in this regard,” the society said.

It called for the Centre for Student Counselling and Development to contact both victims to ensure counselling, appropriate psychological intervention and mental health assistance was made available as soon as possible to aid the direct victims and other students affected by the incidents.

“The SU Staff Transformation Committee must issue a statement condemning the incident at Huis Marais and also offer aid and assistance to the victim.

“Institutional racism underpinned by the ethos of white supremacy will not be left unchallenged. We demand justice,” the society said.

The university said it “strongly condemns any form of racism or intolerant behaviour based on racial or any other prejudice. Human dignity is non-negotiable at Stellenbosch University and must be respected, upheld and restored when affected,” adding it will engage directly with the SU Juridical Society “as a key stakeholder in this matter”.

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