/ 6 March 2008

Hostel apologises over race-row video

Reitz hostel, at the centre of a racist video controversy, on Wednesday apologised unconditionally to all students and other hostels.

Reitz house father and head of the hostel Christo Dippenaar said the whole hostel and its house committee had discussed the video and had decided to offer an unconditional apology for the video to all University of the Free State (UFS) students.

The video featured black university employees on their knees eating food that had purportedly been urinated on by a white student, and refers negatively to the university’s integration policy for campus residences.

The apology was distributed in the form of pamphlets to all residences on campus and also to other students at the university.

The pamphlet was undersigned by the Reitz hostel’s primarius and the Reitz house committee in the name of all Reitz residents.

”We mourn the damage our actions have done to relations between cultural and language groups on campus, as well as to the image of our proud university,” the pamphlet read.

”We have the utmost understanding that especially black and brown communities viewed the making of the video as racist and insulting to them, as did the cleaners of the hostels.

”The goal of this letter is not to defend either the video or the motives behind it.

”The goal of this letter is to offer an unconditional apology that members of our hostel made such a video and for the grief that it caused.

”The original making of the video had nothing to do with racism, but its revelation brought us, as residents of Reitz hostel, to the necessary realisation that we have to institute introspection over the sensitivity that still exists in the interactions between different cultural groups.

”We have to sensitise ourselves again to our Biblical principles of respect, love, trust and integrity within a multicultural society and how we live out these principles.

”We call on every student on campus to help each other in this regard. After all, we all have the same goal: to watch the progress of our university with pride as Kovsies,” the letter read.

‘Wounds and hurt’

Meanwhile, South Africa 2010 Soccer World Cup chief Irvin Khoza apologised unreservedly in a statement on Wednesday for using the word ”kaffir” towards a black journalist.

In a formal statement issued through the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) following a meeting with that body’s chairperson, Jody Kollapen, Khoza — chairperson of the 2010 World Cup local organising committee — said he had decided on this action after seeing the UFS racist video on the news.

Khoza had a week to formally apologise for using the word, or the matter would have been taken the Equality Court.

During a conference, Khoza told a journalist: ”Stop thinking like a kaffir, because you are contriving and misleading about something that is not there.”

Kollapen said the SAHRC, which had received a complaint on Khoza, accepted the apology and regarded the matter as closed.

”I humbly submit to all South Africans that at no stage did I intend to open the wounds and hurt our people suffered from racism,” Khoza said.

”Whereas it was never my intention to use the K-word to demean or impair anyone’s dignity — but to shock a brother to his senses — the revelation of the racist video in Bloemfontein has led me to view my use of the K-word in a different light.

”I do not want to present an opportunity to those whose intention it is to perpetuate racism the convenience of quoting me when they do so.

”I therefore unreservedly and without qualification repeat my apology for using the K-word,” Khoza said. — Sapa