“This was a racially motivated attack, and in response to his actions, Du Toit claimed ‘this is what we do to black boys’,” the petition on Change.org reads.
“This action is a blatant violation of the victim’s human rights, as is protected by the Constitution of South Africa. Du Toit has been suspended from the university, but this is not justified consequence for his actions. He has violated another student’s human dignity, and needs to be removed from the university.”
After two years of lockdown and a gradual return to campus life, Stellenbosch University’s optimism about the year ahead was dashed this week by outrage over three separate incidents.
It even made the Chancellor, retired Constitutional Court judge Edwin Cameron say he felt ashamed when he heard about it.
The Du Toit incident and two others left the university community shocked by what was unfolding.
12 May: An Indian student asked for an Indian song to be played at the law faculty’s dance but received a degrading response from a white law student. The university’s Juridical Society said she was humiliated by the answer, and a person near her did not help, but laughed.
15 May: In the early morning hours, Du Toit was filmed urinating on fellow student Babalo Ndwayana’s personal belongings at Huis Marais student residence. Du Toit was suspended on Monday, and disciplinary proceedings followed.
17 May: A student is accused of raping another student in a residence in Victoria Street, Stellenbosch. He appeared in court and was released on R1 000 bail. The university said it would suspend the alleged perpetrator from his residence pending further internal and criminal investigation by law enforcement authorities as the criminal matter runs its course.
Du Toit has in the meantime appointed legal counsel.
His lawyer William Fullard said: “We are giving our full cooperation to the [SA Police Service}.
“I have advised my client not to address the merits of the matter at this stage, as the matter is under judicial consideration,” he told News24.
Meanwhile, the petition against Du Toit has set a new target of 150 000 signatures amid two protests over racism.
One was held on Thursday, and another on Friday.
The university roundly condemned the incidents, and in the meantime, has pledged to set up an inquiry into racism and campus culture in general, to be led by a retired judge.
It has also asked for patience while waiting for the outcome of Du Toit’s disciplinary processes. Vice Chancellor Wim de Villiers told angry students on Thursday that, although the process had been expedited, it had to be done properly for it to hold.
The university acknowledged the right of staff and students to peacefully protest, provided there was no disruption to campus activities or a threat to safety.
“While protests and public discourse on this matter have been peaceful, the university emphasises and can assure all students and parents that our residences and campuses are safe, our campus security team remains vigilant.”
It also made a decision to postpone exams in light of the “traumatic events”.
On Friday, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Learning and Teaching Deresh Ramjugernath said students would no longer sit for their first semester exams on Monday. Instead, they will now start on 30 May.