/ 7 March 2008

Prominent citizens condemn UFS video

Dozens of prominent South Africans have signed a statement condemning a racist video that surfaced at the University of the Free State (UFS) last month.

The list of 81 signatories includes renowned authors Nadine Gordimer and Andre Brink, journalists John Perlman and Max du Preez, retired judge Arthur Chaskalson, cartoonist Zapiro and academic Phillip Tobias.

Their statement on Friday said of the filmmakers: ”They have dehumanised themselves by their own disgusting acts of inhumanity.”

The video, which has sparked a national outcry, features black university employees on their knees eating food that had apparently been urinated on by a white student.

It depicts a mock initiation of five black staff members into hostel activities and refers openly to the university’s integration policy for campus residences announced in 2007.

The four students who shot the video are to face disciplinary charges, and a criminal investigation into their actions is under way.

In their statement, the prominent personalities said it was not enough to deplore the video privately.

”It is vital to our shared humanity that South Africans of whatever race, colour, class and political affiliation, speak out in revulsion of this violation of our Constitution, which demands that respect be accorded to every individual, affirming the inherent dignity of all of us.”

The perpetrators should face the truth and confront the enormity of what they had done.

”And we must ask ourselves why this has happened and what must be done to redress the harm and to ensure that such unspeakably damaging acts never happen again,” read the statement. — Sapa