Kenny Van Minsel, (above) who at the time, in 2018, was the president of Loko, the umbrella organisation of students at Leuven University, remembers an incident two months prior to the fatal hazing in which Sanda Dia, aged 20, died. On this occasion the young man, whose father hails from Senegal, was the target of racist abuse.
“After a drinking party an awful lot of refuse was left behind. A lot of equipment needed to be cleaned up. We spoke with the club responsible, Reuzegom. They got one of their freshers to come back and do the work: it was the youngster with a different skin colour” says Van Minsel.
An N-word was used. He was told to clean everything up “because blacks have to work for whites”.
A Loko representative intervened and told members of the group that such behaviour was unacceptable. Afterwards it became clear the youngster was Sanda Dia.
“No dialogue was possible with this group. They indicated that they would decide for themselves how to treat their freshers. They weren’t talking about people, rather about objects” says Van Minsel.
Similar accounts have appeared in other media. The 18 young people prosecutors want to bring to trial will not face any racism charges.