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29 Oct 2009 13:17
African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) leader Julius Malema has come out in full support of University of the Free State (UFS) vice-chancellor Jonathan Jansen remaining in his position.
“We do not agree with any call that he must go,” Malema told reporters after a meeting with Jansen, who has come under widespread criticism for offering a pardon to the so-called Reitz Four.
“Jansen is one of our own,” he later told students. “We cannot feed Jansen to the enemy.”
Malema said as a youth organisation, the ANCYL could not stand in the way of students who wanted to return to university, but disciplinary steps should then be taken against them.
“They must apologise and show remorse when they come back,” said Malema.
He said that ANCYL had “frank” talks with the vice-chancellor to say that certain issues must change.
Addressing students, Malema said the Reitz issue was not about individuals, but the institution.
He said the ANCYL agreed with Jansen that a Truth and Reconciliation Commission-like process should be instituted at the university.
Everybody, black and white, should be able to express their feelings at such a forum as to how they had been affected by racism on the campus.
Malema said he agreed with Jansen that the institution was still racially divided.
Jansen came under fire after announcing that the Reitz Four would be allowed to return to campus and continue their studies if they wanted to.
RC Malherbe, Johnny Roberts, Schalk van der Merwe and Danie Grobler still face charges of crimen injuria in court.
Two of the students have already completed their studies, but two others are planning to return to campus.
The four allegedly made a video in which five black university employees were shown taking part in a mock initiation into hostel activities.
The employees were filmed on their hands and knees eating food which had apparently been urinated on by a white student.
Jansen’s decision drew widespread criticism, causing him to start a “consultation process” about the matter.
Other aspects the ANCYL discussed with Jansen were the working conditions of the five workers, such as their uniforms, and their redeployment out of the residence environment.
It was agreed that Jansen would meet personally with the workers and explain why he made his decision and apologise.
“There must be some sort of reparation, not money, so that they [the workers] feel welcome on campus and the Prof [Jansen] must rebuild their confidence,” Malema said.
He said the ANCYL stood with Jansen on his announcement that campus residents would have a 50/50 intake of black and white students from next year.
Another aspect taken up with Jansen was that English classes, mostly given in the afternoon and at night, would move to morning sessions.
“We have agreed with Prof that English courses are offered in early hours so that African students can attend when they are still fresh, because after three everybody is exhausted,” he said.
Free State ANC spokesperson Teboho Sikisi said Malema’s support of Jansen was not a deviation of the party’s original position.
It was always “broadly” around the transformation of the institution and there had been a number of issues the party had raised, such as the integration of hostels.
“The issue of the Reitz Four and why our fallout with Jansen, was because he took a unilateral decision to stop disciplinary process, that has been our issue with him,” said Sikisi.
He said Jansen’s recent steps [to reopen discussions of Reitz] should be commended.
“He has seen sense, because you cannot do reconciliation as an individual.”
Sikisi said the ANC as a party would also meet Jansen and “their own issues” would put on the table.
“The pressure that we have mounted and the alliance, was beginning to herald results, there is no turnabout,” he said.—Sapa
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