Free State Four: Crimen injuria probed
Police are investigating a case of crimen injuria in relation to a racist video made by students at the University of the Free State (UFS).
Spokesperson Superintendent Annelie Wrensch said on Friday that a docket had been opened, based on the video footage.
“Parkweg police investigated the footage contained in the video allegedly made by four students at the University of the Free State and, based on the information obtained, it was decided that a case docket of crimen injuria would be opened,” she said.
The video, which caused national outrage, features black university employees on their knees eating food that had apparently been urinated upon by white students. It was filmed last year by students from the Reitz men’s residence.
The film depicts a mock initiation of five black staff members into hostel activities and refers openly to the university’s diversity policy for campus residences, announced last year.
The Freedom Front Plus (FF+) has been accused of creating a conducive climate for the production of a video by white UFS students protesting against the university’s decision to reintegrate its residences, the Mail & Guardian reported on Friday.
On Thursday, FF+ deputy leader Corne Mulder claimed in an interview with the M&G that he “knew nothing of this mess” and that an audit of the FF+ membership in the Free State had shown that the students were not members.
The M&G has established, however, that the FF+ and its youth wing have been actively targeting the campuses of historically white institutions such as the UFS and the University of Pretoria, to campaign against racial integration.
At the UFS this has been done since the Nineties through a cultural organisation promoting Afrikaner interests. The male club is known as Here XVII (Lords Seventeen, which refers to the Dutch East India Company’s bosses, who drove colonialism in the 17th century) and has been “owned” by the FF+.
The party controls the student representative councils at both the Free State and Pretoria campuses and this week announced it was registering a student organisation at the University of Stellenbosch.
Wrensch said on Friday that the director of public prosecutions will decide whether to prosecute after the investigation has been completed.
Police were still keeping watch on the Bloemfontein campus of the UFS on Friday after anger over the video sparked protests earlier in the week. Wrench said police would maintain a presence on the campus for the time being.
UFS spokesperson Lacea Loader confirmed that a delegation from the education department was on campus and meeting the university’s management on Friday afternoon.
Earlier, it was announced that Education Director General Duncan Hindle would lead a delegation to the university.
Representatives of Reitz said on Friday the video was not made for propaganda purposes, but for an “internal cultural event”. House committee head Pieter Odendaal said the video should be seen in context with other videos that were also made for the event.
At the time, the workers in the video were not forced to take part.
Odendaal agreed that some aspects of the video “cannot be made good”.
Residence head Christo Dippenaar said the reaction to the video was “out of context”, adding: “I think a lot of political parties want to get mileage out of this.”
He refused to answer specific questions about the video, indicating it was part of an official investigation.