Reitz victim unhappy with UFS decision

One of the five University of Free State (UFS) cleaners involved in the Reitz racism saga said they had not been consulted on a decision to invite the students back.

“We are not happy at all about hearing that those students will be admitted without us being told,” Rebecca Adams told the Times newspaper in a report on Wednesday.

UFS rector Jonathan Jansen announced last week that two of the four students allegedly involved in shooting a racist video were welcome to return to campus to “advance reconciliation”.

But criminal charges still stand against the students.

The Reitz hostel was the centre of a racial storm in February 2008, caused by a video of a mock initiation of five black staff members into hostel activities. In the video, black university employees are seen on their hands and knees eating food which had apparently been urinated into by a white student.

Two of the four students dropped their studies at the university after the incident. The other two had graduated at the end of the previous year.

The accused — RC Malherbe, Johnny Roberts, Schalk van der Merwe and Danie Grobler — face charges of crimen injuria in the Bloemfontein Regional Court. The case is expected to start on
October 26.

Jansen clarified his statement on Monday, saying the charges had not been withdrawn.

“There are three processes under way, and they must not be confused.”

He said the criminal charges by the Directorate of Special Prosecutions in the province, and the human rights charges by the Human Rights Commission were still under way.

“The university simply withdrew its own complaint against the students, insofar as university processes are concerned, and on that basis decided to invite the students back to continue their studies and to re-open Reitz as a model of social justice and racial reconciliation as an exemplary university residence.”

Jansen said the decision, which fell within the university’s authority, was based on two things.

“The institution’s own accountability for what happened, and creating the conditions under which racism and racist attacks were even possible on the campus … the institution’s desire to create the conditions for racial reconciliation on a deeply divided campus, and in doing so to accelerate the chances of transformation at the UFS.”

There were “broad consultations” about the need to resolve the issue, he said.

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