Ramaphosa trust withdraws funding from racist student

Bodene Benade (left) and Catherine Reynders (right) have been suspended from the University of Pretoria after making racist comments in a video (instagram)

Bodene Benade (left) and Catherine Reynders (right) have been suspended from the University of Pretoria after making racist comments in a video (instagram)

The Cyril Ramaphosa Education Trust has withdrawn a bursary it awarded to a student after a video emerged of her making racist slurs. There are two students, Catherine Michelle Reynders and Bodene Benade, who have been suspended from the University of Pretoria pending a disciplinary hearing into racist comments they made in the video. 

Reynders and Benade were suspended from UP on Friday after the video went viral on social media. In the video, one of the students says that a black person stole her phone. She refers to the black person by using the k-word.

She says, laughing: “A f***ing k****r stole my phone”.

“Did you hear that? A f***ing k****r stole her phone,” the other student responds.

“I am so f****ng dumb‚ f****ng k*****s,” the other student continues.

The video surfaced after it appeared to be mistakenly sent to the wrong recipient on WhatsApp. One of the students seemingly sent it to a group called “Physiotherapy” instead of another person. They have since apologised on WhatsApp. 

Reynders has also been axed from the rugby cheer-leading quad, the Bulls Babe Squad. 

The Cyril Ramaphosa Education Trust (CRET), a branch of the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation (CRF), has now distanced itself from the incident, saying it supports UP’s decision to conduct disciplinary action.

“CRF and CRET condemn the abhorrent behaviour displayed in the video and has rescinded the student’s bursary with immediate effect. The CRET bursary programme has prided itself on its non-racial‚ non-discriminatory programme that supports disadvantaged students across all races,” the Trust said in a statement.

“We are devastated to learn that one of our family members has disappointed us to such a degree when South African needs to be embracing its diversity.”

Some on social media, however, have asked why Ramaphosa’s foundation had not prioritised a black student for the bursary award.

Ramaphosa is currently in the final stretch of his campaign to become ANC president. The party’s elective conference in December is now less than two months away.

At the weekend, presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was reported by the Sunday Times to have partially funded her campaign through the support of an alleged tobacco smuggler. The allegations were initially made in a book on President Jacob Zuma’s alleged criminal underworld written by veteran journalist Jacques Pauw.

Lindiwe Sisulu, another hopeful to take the party’s presidency, was also challenged last week for her remarks on Khwezi when she said in an interview: “I believe she believes she was raped”.

Ramaphosa’s foundation was quick to respond to the allegations that one of its own youngsters is a racist. The Trust did not clarify whether it was Reynders or Bodene who had been awarded the bursary.

However, a press statement from the foundation in 2016 named Reynders as a bursary recipient. She was named the trust’s Student of the Year in 2015, and was personally handed an award from Ramaphosa. 

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