SASCO member addressing students in Irene yesterday.

SASCO member addressing students in Irene yesterday.

SASCO claims racism in Irene residence

SASCO member addressing students in Irene yesterday.

HELÉNE LEONARD & KATHRYN VAN DEN BERG

An incident of alleged racism was brought under the attention of Irene residents yesterday. Mem-
bers of the South African Student Congress (SASCO) requested that Sasha Marais, Irene HK member for media, sponsorships and net- working, announce an all-call for students to assemble in the dining hall. According to these SASCO representatives the intention of the SASCO meeting in the dining hall was to bring attention to what Lwazi Pakade, the convener of the ANC Youth League, called “a racist incident in the residence”.

At this time, Marais recalls Pakade saying to the residents in the hall that “there is racism in Irene
that you do not know about”. The incident in question concerns two newcomers who were placed together as roommates before the conclusion of welcoming this year and between which supposedly racist exchanges occurred.

Pakade, who refers to the black student as “the victim” of the racial incident, was unsatisfied by the way in which the situation was dealt with by the management of Irene. Pakade said that SASCO as approached on Tuesday morning after 08:00 by the student toward which the alleged racist remarks were targeted.

He was allegedly physically handed a letter by this student and, according to Pakade, the letter states that “she felt like she was dehumanised. Her roommate was racist towards her. [The roommate] said ‘do not use my comb, it is a white comb’.” Further, “the victim was not consulted in the process and no one cared about her side of the story,” said Pakade.

Although she did speak to “some of the HKs about her concerns”, Pakade said “the situation was not handled in a manner that was fair to the victim.” He reiterates that both sides of the story needed to be addressed “to figure out what transpired”. When contacted for more information on the letter in question, Pakade acknowledged that “it seems like someone misplaced” it. When journalists from Die Matie went to Riana Engelbrecht’s, Irene’s residence head, place of residence, they found that Carli van Wyk, SRC chair and previous prim of Irene (2017/2018 term), was already in discussion with Engelbrecht. When a meeting was requested between the journalists and Engelbrecht through a HK member, the journalists were informed that, despite the SRC chairperson being granted access to Engelbrecht’s place of residence, Engelbrecht refused to speak to Die Matie.

Instead, the journalists were referred to the SSVO through a HK member. When Irene’s Prim was initially unavailable for comment Janke Grundling, the vice prim of Irene, said that she was unwilling to comment at present. Further, Engelbrecht claimed that the journalists should “follow the proper channels”.

When Die Matie attempted to contact Ingrid Heÿdenrÿch, the Prim of Irene, she requested the questions beforehand in order to reply via WhatsApp. She also requested to see SASCO’s comments before commenting herself. In an email Heÿdenrÿch then gave a brief explanation of how
the incident took place and stated that SASCO members “demanded to have a chance to speak and to warn students against racism”.

Heÿdenrÿch further explained that Engelbrect proceeded to inform students about the “various channels” they can follow if they feel that they are being discriminated against or if their rights are being violated.

Heÿdenrÿch said that an independent party in the form of the Equality Unit of the university has already been contacted by Engelbrecht to help manage the situation. “Various leaders in Irene have looked at possible solutions to this problem and it is still in process,” explained Heÿdenrÿch.

*This is a developing story and any further details will be published on Die Matie’s online platforms or in the next edition.

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