Two students at a South African university have been disciplined for allegedly ‘blacking up’.
According to TheSouthAfrican, Stellenbosch University suspended the two white female students following what it called a ‘blackface’ incident.
However, one of the students now claims the pair were dressing as purple space aliens for a ‘galactic themed space party’.
— POWER987News (@POWER987News) February 6, 2016
In a statement, the university said it acted swiftly after the reported incident which occurred on Friday:
Stellenbosch University condemns all forms of racism and discrimination and acknowledges the severe negative impact of the pain and trauma experienced by students, staff and members of the public.
The university organised workshops and other discussions in residences over the weekend ‘to create awareness and understanding’ on the issue.
However, university spokesman Martin Viljoen has now said they are aware of ‘new evidence’ and an investigation into the incident is ongoing.
— James (@JamesNbit) February 8, 2016
According to TheSouthAfrican, one of the suspended students, Poekie Briedenhann, said there had been a misunderstanding and that the dark purple paint only appeared as black in some photos.
Photographs of the students have now emerged on social media and appear to show them wearing purple face paint with glitter, blue lips and antennae made out of silver foil.
Episodes like this tend to be treated with caution in South Africa amid heightened debate on social media about racism in the country, which only became a multi-racial democracy after the end of white minority rule in 1994.