Jansen blames journalist

2013-04-09 00:00

PROFESSOR Jonathan Jansen’s reported comments that he wished former president Nelson Mandela should die now, drew widespread reaction yesterday.

The Free State university vice-chancellor vehemently denied that he had told pupils this.

However, several people who were present when Jansen gave his speech, telephoned sister newspaper Volksblad in Bloemfontein yesterday, and confirmed the academic had in fact said it.

One of them, a student leader in a prominent city school, said Jansen did utter the words “even though he may not have meant them”.

As reported yesterday, some of the audience of 250 school pupils, gasped when Jansen asked whether they did not also “wish that Madiba would die now”.

In a statement yesterday Lacea Loader, Jansen’s spokesperson, said the respected academic, like all other South Africans, wanted Madiba to live as long as possible.

“His argument was that Madiba has done so much for South Africa that one sometimes wishes he could be left alone to spend his last days quietly in peace.”

Loader told Volksblad that no recording existed of Jansen’s speech.

The vice-chancellor spoke without notes and screened two slides, one of which was a sketch of his leadership role models, including Mandela, Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King junior and Albert Luthuli.

Volksblad approached Loader several times for comment on Sunday and even sent her its report before publishing it yesterday.

She initially said Jansen did not wish to comment. Later that evening, she told the newspaper it had not been Jansen’s intention to express a wish that Mandela should die.

Presidency spokesperson Mac Maharaj said yesterday he was still very unhappy about the statements and had spoken to Jansen about them.

Jansen was also quoted telling pupils that there was a general failure of leadership in the country.

He singled out the Catholic Church as an example, saying that hundreds of boys were molested every week and that there was a lack of leadership in the church.

Durban’s Cardinal Wilfrid Napier took to twitter yesterday and tweeted: “Hope Prof Jansen’s quoted remarks about the Catholic Church are also bad journalism! Waiting to hear.”

Napier told The Witness: “What he said [about being misquoted], I’m worried that it might be the case with that comment … I’m still waiting for a response from him.”

Jansen had earlier taken to twitter in an apparent attempt to do damage control and blamed the journalist for allegedly quoting him out of context.

Jamie Frank (‏@jamiefrank87) was the first to tweet saying: @JJ_UFS “I’m assuming the ‘report’ about you wishing Mandela would die is garbage? What the papers will do to grab a headline is scary.”

Jansen replied: “absolute garbage”. He then further tweeted that he wished Mandela “would live forever”. However, not everyone was convinced.

@SifisoMdladla tweeted saying: “@JJ_UFS quoted out of context or not your remarks were inappropriate no matter how u spin it, u owe mandela&his family an apology.”

To which Jansen responded: “only if you accept misinformation and refuse thought”.

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