Jansen ‘panders only to South Africa’

2009-10-24 16:36

“I stand by what I have done,” said University of the Free State vice-chancellor Jonathan Jansen after landing South Africa in its latest race storm this week.

Jansen said he was often accused of pandering either to whites or to blacks.

“I pander only to South Africa and its future,” he said.

Jansen faced Cabinet criticism, marching students and widespread criticism for dropping charges against the four students from the Reitz residence who produced a racist video last year.

But he is adamant that he will not resign or suspend his decision to drop internal charges against the four students.

The University of the Free State’s first black vice-chancellor spoke to City Press this week amid widespread calls, among them from trade union Cosatu, for him to step down for his decision to drop internal charges against the four and for inviting them back to continue their studies.

But Jansen said the public should not “confuse noise with numbers”.

The university council and senate were 100% behind him and he has received hundreds and hundreds of letters, SMSs and emails in support of him, he said.

‘‘First of all where did you hear, in our country, that the trade union tells a university who to appoint? That is ridiculous,” Jansen said.

He said it was the university’s council, consisting of a broad range of stakeholders, that made decisions on who to hire and fire and “this has got nothing to do with ­outsiders”.

Jansen said he needed to show compassion to both sides in order to push through his transformation and integration agenda.
He defended his failure to consult the victims, student representative council and staff ­unions before making his decision, saying it was the senate’s prerogative to decide who to admit, expel or re-admit.

Jansen said he needed the permission of the university senate only to re-admit the students.

He denied that he had apologised on behalf of the students, saying he had offered an apology on behalf of the university because it had failed to handle the matter honestly.

He said after the four wrote a letter to the university recently apologising for their actions he told them to apologise directly to the workers.

“I hope they do,” he said.

This week the four told the Saturday Star that Nehawu, the workers’ union, had stopped them apologising, but the union denied this.

Jansen appealed for space to transform the university and make it one of the most embracing institutions in the years to come.

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