Race row hits Maties

25 February 2015 - 02:35 By Shanaaz Eggington
Stellenbosch University. File photo.
Stellenbosch University. File photo.

Video footage of a fight inside a fast-food restaurant has been handed to police to help them investigate claims of an alleged racist assault in Stellenbosch.

Three black students - including Sikhulekile Duma, the chairman of the DA Students Organisation at Stellenbosch University - claim they were assaulted by a group of white men at the local McDonald's on Saturday.

Duma, who was knocked unconscious during the incident, and students Lwazi Phakade and Sphele Masuku, said they intervened when they saw black staff members being insulted by a group of "intoxicated" white men.

Duma said: "In the early hours of Saturday morning, I was assaulted and knocked out cold by fellow students following my intervention in a racially-charged incident at a fast-food outlet in Stellenbosch.

"I felt compelled to intervene following the harassment of staff at this establishment in a degrading way by white students.

"These students racially taunted black staff and tugged at their uniforms."

Last September, the university said it would not take disciplinary action against three students involved in a "blackface" incident.

Two of the students posed for photos with their faces smeared black and wearing wigs and outfits meant to represent tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams.

The pictures were widely circulated on Twitter.

Professor Leopoldt van Huyssteen, acting rector and vice-chancellor of Stellenbosch University, said if the alleged assailants were found to be students, disciplinary action would be taken.

"We have a zero tolerance approach to racism and discrimination." However, he said it was "extremely unfair to lump the institution into the 'racist category' as a result of the reprehensible actions of individuals".

Police spokesman Andre Traut confirmed they were investigating an assault case.