South Africa suffers from a “still daily racism”, President Cyril Ramaphosa regretted Monday, May 23, a week after the release of a video which outraged the country, showing a white student at a prestigious university urinating on the books of a black comrade.

“Racism is still present in everyday life in South Africa,” the head of state said in his weekly letter, calling the incident in a dormitory at the University of Stellenbosch, near Cape Town (southern) “ degrading and humiliating”.

This video of a freshman speaking English with a strong Afrikaans accent has been widely shared on social media. In the early hours of Sunday, May 15, an off-camera student asks him, “Why are you peeing in my room?” He replies laconically, without interrupting himself: “I’m expecting someone.” »

According to the South African Students’ Congress, a student union, the young man with close-cropped hair and a beige hooded jacket would have added: “This is what we do to black boys. “It’s as if he urinated on the Constitution itself,” Justice Minister Ronald Lamola blasted Monday at the opening of a conference against racism and xenophobia in South Africa.

“Despicable act”

Calling on “white parents” to educate their children with respect for diversity, the minister added that “this type of barbaric incident must be condemned and cannot be taken lightly”. The victim filed a complaint.

“We need to understand why racist attitudes thrive in our schools and higher education institutions,” as well as in workplaces and in all types of organizations, Ramaphosa insisted, calling for this “act despicable” to address the issue of racial inequality.

The president further quotes Kwenzokuhle Khumalo, a fourth-year student at the Stellenbosch campus who, in a fiery speech, microphone in hand to a crowd of protesters, launched last weekend: “This time you are facing the wrong generation”, a far cry from that dominated by white power under apartheid.

On this majority white campus in a majority black country, several demonstrations last week demanded the dismissal of the perpetrator. “We want this student to be fired and for the university to set up a commission of inquiry into racism,” student union representative Sifiso Zulu told AFP. The university has “strongly condemned this destructive, hurtful and racist incident”, but has yet to decide on a possible expulsion.