Students draw attention to race classification

About 11 white students painted their faces black in a bid to be classified as Africans at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Thursday.

The group, led by AfriForum CEO Callie Kriel, handed a memorandum to a representative of the President’s office, Elisa Ndlovu.

Kriel said the students’ tongue-in-cheek action carried a very serious message, namely that the government was becoming ludicrously obsessed with race.

As part of the memorandum, the students each completed the Department of Labour’s EEA1 form, in which they classified themselves as “African”, and which they submitted to the president for certification as being correct by him.

On the form, to be filled in by employers or their employees as part of the Department of Labour’s employment equity reports, people were given a choice of being either “African”, “Coloured”, “Indian” or “White”.

The students also appealed to all who were born in South Africa to classify themselves as African when completing the EEA1 form.

One of the group, Quinten Campbell (20), said the action was intended to help fight discrimination in all forms.

When handing over the memorandum, Ernst Roets, a Students’ Representative Council member said: “We want to demonstrate by means of this action that we are neither prepared to allow racial ideology to deprive us of our African identity, nor reduce us to second-class citizens in the country of our birth.”

Upon receiving the memorandum, Ndlovu said: “I can’t comment as I don’t know the contents of the memorandum.”

Kriel said the disadvantage of race classifications was that it perpetuated racial consciousness. “I don’t deny that inequalities need to be addressed, but the method used is not correct”.

He said these efforts should focus on socio-economic factors rather than race.—Sapa

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