Thousands in South Africa have signed a petition urging the expulsion of a white student who urinated on a Black student’s belongings after a video of the incident was widely circulated on social media.
Babalo Ndwayana, a 20-year-old Black freshman at Stellenbosch University, said he was awoken by commotion in his room around 4 a.m. on Sunday. When he switched the light on, he saw white student Theuns du Toit urinating on his books and laptop.
He later went to a local police station to report the incident.
“Breaking in, malicious damage and then racism. At the moment, I need to go and rest because I am still traumatized,” Ndwayana told reporters.
Responding to public uproar, university head Wim de Villiers released a video assuring the nation that investigations are underway, and action will be taken.
“I am truly sorry about the pain caused by this incident and want to take this opportunity to assure you of the university’s commitment that this type of behavior will not be tolerated on our campus,” he said.
The university has suspended du Toit who may also face expulsion.
The South African Students Congress said the incident provides an opportunity to address racism in the country. The congress’ representative, Sifiso Zungu, spoke to reporters after accompanying Ndwayana to the police station.
“This was pure racism. Even the comment that he made to him to say `This is what white boys do to black boys,’ it is racism,” Zungu said.
Justice Minister Ronald Lamola told parliament that the government strongly condemns the incident.
"The university must leave no stone unturned in investigating the incident," he said. "All of us must send a clear and unambiguous message that there is no space for racism in our country."
Several recent racially motivated incidents at South African learning institutions have been blamed on the residual impacts of apartheid.
Parliament is conducting public hearings on a hate crime and hate speech bill, which is widely expected to make racism a criminal offense.