OPINION

In defence of Theuns du Toit

James Myburgh |

27 July 2022

James Myburgh writes on the likely explanation for the student’s actions that a racially-blinded SU seems to have missed

On 15th May 2022 the news broke of an apparently horrific racial incident at Huis Marais, a residence at Stellenbosch University. In the early hours of that morning a drunk white student, Theuns du Toit, had gone into the room of a black student, Babalo Ndwayana, and urinated all over his desk, damaging various items including a laptop.

In a statement issued several hours after the incident SASCO Stellenbosch condemned this “racist” attack stating that “when asked by the victim the racist response was that it is what they do to black boys.” Anything short of expulsion and potentially criminal charges, SASCO decreed, “would he regarded or as seen as injustice, this racist criminal act deserves the highest punishment.”

That evening a video of the incident was posted to social media, and the following week mass protests were held at the university with black students holding up signs saying, “we are not toilets”. An online petition calling for Theuns du Toit to be expelled, posted by Anke Spies, stated that this was a “racially motivated attack, and in response to his actions, Du Toit claimed ‘this is what we do to black boys’.” It soon attracted tens of thousands of signatories.

On the Monday Stellenbosch University issued a statement condemning this “destructive, hurtful and racist incident” and announced that Du Toit was being suspended from the university pending disciplinary action. The University would also go on to appoint the former Constitutional Court judge Sisi Khampepe to lead an inquiry into allegations of “racism” at SU.

In the public debate Du Toit became the focus of the common South African ritual of the “Two Weeks Hate” – the object of intense popular hatred; the face of enduring, lying and insulting notions of white superiority. A stream of denunciations followed – refuting, smashing, and ridiculing both Du Toit’s disgusting actions and the horrible and repulsive “racism” that had motivated them. He was denounced by the Minister of Justice, the President, the Cabinet, the EFF, the ANC, GOOD SA, and many, many others.

How is it possible, News24 Editor Adriaan Basson asked, “that in 2022, a young white man thinks it’s acceptable to urinate on the desk, laptop and books of his black peer?” In a column in the Sunday Times, the newspaper’s deputy editor Makhudu Sefara denounced Du Toit as a “racist” who “hated black people” whom he probably regarded as “subhuman” due to his racist upbringing post-1994. My view, Sefara continued, “is that young man Du Toit deliberately acted out his barbaric behaviour because he knows black life is not only cheap, but that even our political leaders show no respect for it.”

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In the wave of self-righteous denunciations that followed there was one voice that was missing, that of Du Toit himself. The Weekend Argus reported that those who knew him regarded him as anything but a “racist”. He had been very drunk at the time the incident occurred and could not even remember it.

The disciplinary hearing against Du Toit, in which Ndwayana refused to participate, concluded at the end of June. The report of the Central Disciplinary Committee was issued last week. It found Du Toit guilty on most charges, including of “racism”, and ordered his expulsion from the university. The ruling was welcomed by many at the university, although Du Toit’s lawyer did say he would file an appeal.

If one takes the popular narrative as one’s guide, one would think that a monstrously racist act was committed, that Stellenbosch University acted resolutely to deal with it, and another blow has been struck against “racism” in South Africa. And yet if you look at the facts set out by the disciplinary committee, the significance of which it clearly missed, the explanation for Du Toit’s actions is both obvious, and obviously not “racism”. And if one accepts this in turn, it is clear that Du Toit has been the victim of great wrong.

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