Four White students at the University of Free State in South Africa have been fined US$2,720 (SAR 20,000) each after pleading guilty to crimen injuria for making a video that put Black janitorial staff at the school through a series of humiliating tasks.
RC Malherbe, Johnny Roberts, Schalk van der Merwe and Danie Grobler, former residents of the now-closed Reitz men’s residence on the Bloemfontein campus, made the video as a protest against integration plans at the university. In exclusive interviews with The Right Perspective, it was learned that many incidents of Black-on-White violence and intimidation occurred on campus as the result of integration, with school authorities turning a blind eye to matter.
The video features a mock initiation of five Black staff members into hostel activities, including having them eat a “vomit-inducing” mixture of water, bread, coffee, protein powder, raw garlic and milk that looked like someone had urinated into but never really did.
The four men chose the workers because they were on good terms with them, said defense lawyer Kemp J. Kemp. The workers were explicitly told not to swallow the mixture, but to “play-act” the vomiting, not to smile and act seriously during the scene. They also had the option of leaving at any time and were paid with a bottle of vodka, a term agreed upon before the filming began.
“The accused did not realize the effect of the video and what it would have on the university and the plaintiffs. They now, in retrospect, accept that the use of the workers for the video was insensitive, ill considered and wrong,” Kemp read from a prepared statement apologizing for the video that was written by the men in court.+
Kemp is famous in South Africa for successfully defending president Jacob Zuma in a rape case several years ago, reports the BBC.
In addition to the fine, Judge Mziwonke Hinxa imposed a six-month jail term suspended on condition of good behavior for five years.
The four must not repeat “discrimination against any other person on grounds of race” over the next five years, Hinxa said.
ANC party spokesperson Jackson Mthembu called the sentencing “appropriate.”
“This sentencing will also serve as a deterrent to any individual who seeks to undermine and humiliate fellow citizens on the basis of their gender, ethnicity, religion and social standing in the society,” Mthembu said.