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Were College Students Arrested After Lodging Racism Complaints?

Dozens of students at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa have accused the school of helping to arrest them when they tried to lodge a racism complaint. Earlier this week, 27 students that included South African Students Congress members appeared in court on charges of public violence and were released on warning until their next hearing in February, but they are hardly done fighting. They claim a member of the university’s protection services and an unidentified assistant lecturer called them “kaffirs,” the South African equivalent of the N-word, after protesting outside the university over financial aid scheme funding.

“We were called kaffirs. They are extremely racist,” said 21-year-old psychology student Tebogo Mokoena. He said that when they lodged a complaint with the university’s protection services the next day, they were detained and taken to the police station. Mokoena also accused university administrators of monitoring their Facebook and Twitter accounts while also labeling them as troublemakers.

“(Protection services) refused to take our case. As we identified the people (involved), they threw us in a van,” said Sasco president on campus Shir’a Jeenah. University administrators said they would investigate the allegations, but have already labeled many of them as untrue.

“Why would we want to profile and monitor? It is a university, not a police station,” said Tinyiko Maluleke, deputy vice-chancellor for student affairs. “CCTV cameras and security are there for the safety of the students, not to harm students. It would be absurd for us to be profiling students.”

(Photo: University of Johannesburg)

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