University: 'Blackface' disciplinary still ongoing

Johannesburg - An investigation into the conduct of two students who were photographed in domestic worker outfits and smeared with black paint is still ongoing, the University of Pretoria said on Tuesday.

"The disciplinary and investigation are still underway [sic]," spokesperson Nicolize Mulder said.

"It has not been finalised."

The students have been temporarily suspended from their residences.

The picture distributed on social media shows the pair of female students in domestic worker outfits with black paint smeared on their faces and arms. They posed with headscarves and padded bottoms. It was published in various newspapers last month.

The students' action was considered racist by many people commenting on social networks with the hashtag #blackface.

At the time Mulder said the picture was taken at a private 21st birthday party but because they were students at the institution, an investigation was launched.

The African National Congress parliamentary caucus on Tuesday said it was interested in the outcome of the matter.

"As the ANC we find this kind of behaviour by the students unacceptable and shows their insensitivity to black suffering," the caucus said in a statement.

"The punishment by the university in suspending them from the residence but allowing them to attend classes is considered very lenient."

However, the party found solace in the fact that the SA Human Rights Commission was conducting its own investigation.

"While the commission has still not received a complaint in this regard, the commission decided to launch an own initiative investigation," spokesperson Isaac Mangena told Sapa at the time.

He said the commission was interested in measures the university would implement to address the matter and its significance to other students.