UFS Council supports Jansen's decision

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pretoria - The Council of the University of Free State (UFS) is fully supporting its Rector and Vice-Chancellor Professor Jonathan Jansen for his controversial decision to pardon the four Reitz students.

In a statement, Judge Faan Hancke, chairperson of the Council said: "The Council supports all active attempts to encourage reconciliation and accepts Prof Jansen's integrity and bona fides with regard to the handling of this issue."

Hancke said the Council had already unanimously expressed its support for Jansen with regard to the handling of various managerial issues, including mediation with regard to the legal process about the four Reitz students.

The university made headlines when a racist video, which was initially aimed at protesting against the university's integration policy, surfaced earlier this year showing four students from the Reitz hostel degrading five cleaners.

The cleaners were allegedly forced to eat food laced in urine and participate in activities such as playing rugby.

Jansen came under fire after he took a decision to re-admit the four students who were faced with charges of crimen injuria at the university.

When they appeared in court on Monday, their case was postponed to February next year.

"The Council remains unequivocally committed to the important process of transformation, and sees Prof Jansen's actions in the light of his intention to accomplish reconciliation and manage the larger process of transformation," he said.

According to Hancke, the UFS Council is of the view that racism, and abusive actions of any nature whatsoever remain inexcusable.

"The Council expresses its hope that all stakeholders will find a quick solution to the current dispute in order to ensure that activities on the Main Campus return to normal," he said.

Last week, Cabinet expressed strong displeasure with the decision to drop the internal charges instituted against four students who humiliated workers there.

"The process that led to the dropping of the charges was flawed in that it did not follow the established norm of getting the perpetrators to admit guilt, to apologise to the victims before any charges could be dropped and to initiate a reconciliation process," Government Spokesperson Themba Maseko said.

Cabinet further supported Higher Education and Training Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande's call for the university to initiate an inclusive and consultative process to deal with the matter and to address racism at the institution.

Nzimande said the institution must convene an urgent meeting of all stakeholders in the university community to discuss the matter and to seek a common and better way forward.