A video, alleged to be that of a young South African being humiliated by a Russian anti-paedophile group, has created a stir after it was posted on Wednesday on an internet website.
And now, a Pretoria rights lawyer is asking that a travel warning be issued for Russia’s 2014 Olympics.
But Pretoria diplomatic sources this morning said the video needed to be probed before the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) would act.
The disturbing video, which was posted late on Wednesday on BuzzFeed, had had almost 51 000 views by early this morning and has been duplicated on numerous sites. The website describes itself as keeping tabs on the “viral internet”.
The footage is posted under the headline “Russian Anti-LGBT Activists Humiliate South African Student” along with a graphic content warning.
The footage depicts a man it claims to be a South African student named David Smith.
Legal papers have been written by Pretoria lawyers, Coenraad Kukkuk Attorneys, to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s office, Dirco Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and the Russian ambassador to South Africa, Mikhail Ivanovich Petrakov.
This letter slams the “attack by racist and anti-homosexual thugs in the city of Belgorod on a black South African student” and goes on to say that Smith was expelled from the University of Belgorod after he complained.
Belgorod is 670km south of Moscow near Russia’s border with Ukraine. “We demand an investigation as these perpetrators can easily be identified, as well as an explanation by the Russian authorities to the South African people,” the letter stated.
The 33-minute video shows several men allegedly part of the Okkupaj Pedofilyaj (Occupy Paedophilia) gang who – according to the videos – lure victims to their flat by pretending to be underage boys.
The gang then films the alleged paedophiles being humiliated and posts them online. There have been similar videos posted on the internet recently.
In this video, the victim has his hair shaved down the middle, has a watermelon shoved into his face and is forced to simulate oral sex with a beer bottle.
While most of the video is in Russian, there are a handful of sentences in broken English. “Why you search boy? Do not girl, why you search boy?” one of the men asks Smith, who quietly mumbles something in Russian.
“In your country, in Johannesburg, your country and laws and paedophilia?” he asks.
The letter from Kukkuk asked the minister to issue a travel warning to all South Africans of travel to the Russian Federation and to boycott the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
However, Dirco poured cold water on the issue this morning as they said they had not yet received the letter from Kukkuk and that they would need to investigate first.
“Once we’ve received the letter, we will obviously look at the contents and take it forward,” said Dirco spokesman Clayson Monyela.
The Russian embassy said ambassador Petrakov was out of the city and would not give out his contact details while the South African embassy in Russia said they would need time to comment, which was not received at the time of publication.
The last part of the video shows a man wearing a balaclava giving Smith a pair of boxing gloves and then they appear to train him how to box in front of the camera.
Finally, they make him give a crooked “thumbs-up”, which other reports have said is their gang sign.