Vigilante attack claims investigated

May 16, 2003

The University of Stellenbosch has launched an investigation into claims that black, gay and Jewish students have been attacked in its hostels by rightwing vigilante groups, writes Karen MacGregor.

A hostel warden and student housing representatives have been suspended after an investigation uncovered evidence that they had sanctioned an alleged vigilante group. They now face disciplinary action.

The Human Rights Commission is to be invited to stage a second investigation after attacks were reported at other hostels.

Education minister Kader Asmal is to discuss the allegations with principal Chris Brink.

The country's Sunday Times reported three recent attacks, including one on two black students who were assaulted in their rooms by men in balaclavas and military uniforms.

One injured student laid a charge of assault but later withdrew it because he was satisfied with the way that the university handled the matter.

In another incident, a gay science student's room was vandalised and daubed with anti-gay slogans, and he was threatened with assault by a group called The Black Hand, which smeared rotten food and human faeces on his door.

A female Jewish student reportedly had her hostel door kicked in and received hate mail after she refused to attend a Christian prayer meeting.

Last year, while a member of the Students' Representative Council, she was told "convert or resign".

The South African Students' Congress complained of racist victimisation at the University of Pretoria when a group of Afrikaans male students allegedly assaulted a black student on campus last month.

The university said the incident was being investigated and that Sasco was "irresponsible" to label it racist at this stage.

The African National Congress Youth League expressed outrage at "cleansing" of blacks, Jews, gays and lesbians, and called on universities and the government to "brutally uproot these morons".

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