President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday expressed outrage at reports that first year students at a South African university recently staged a Nazi-style salute during induction.
“We were shocked by the reports on orientation activities at the North West University involving students doing the Nazi-style fascist salute,” he said in a speech delivered to students at the university.
“Such practices are unacceptable,” he said addressing a meeting organised by his ruling African National Congress party in the run-up to May 7 general elections.
Students at one of the campuses of the North West University had performed the Nazi-style “Sieg Heil” salute during a supposed orientation ceremony, according to a local newspaper.
A short YouTube video showed students wearing black t-shirts and navy-blue shorts singing, dancing and then waving the salute.
“The use of gestures associated with Nazism are shunned upon throughout the world and are relics of a time which symbolised oppression, persecution and some of the worst atrocities committed in human history,” said Zuma.
He said his government “takes this matter seriously and will not tolerate any unconstitutional activities that are perpetrated at any education and training institution”.
The Higher Education ministry is investigating the incident and has vowed it will take any action if deemed necessary.
The university authorities have apologised for any offence caused by the images but denied it was a Nazi salute.