Human rights centre launched at UFS

2017-03-29 06:02
Research assistant, Sikelela Ndlazi (left) and the chairperson of the South African Human Rights Commission, Prof. Bongani Majola, at the launch of the Human Rights Centre at the University of the Free State (UFS).Photo: Thandolwethu Wolff

Research assistant, Sikelela Ndlazi (left) and the chairperson of the South African Human Rights Commission, Prof. Bongani Majola, at the launch of the Human Rights Centre at the University of the Free State (UFS).Photo: Thandolwethu Wolff

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The University of the Free State (UFS) has finally launched the Free State Centre for Human Rights following the order made by the Equality Court in February 2011 ­involving the case of the Reitz Four video.

The video, shot in 2007, showed five black employees of the UFS in Bloemfontein being forced to re-enact initiation rights for students.

The four middle-aged women and one man were made to eat food which had been urinated on.

JC van der Merwe, deputy-director of the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice (IRSJ), said the centre, which has been operating since January 2016, will benefit the university and the broader community.

“After the Reitz video became public in 2008, the South African Human Rights Commission brought an Equality Court case against the UFS and the four students on behalf of the five workers.

“In February 2011 an agreement was reached between parties which was subsequently made an order of the Equality Court,” said Van der Merwe.

Research assistant at the Free State Centre for Human Rights, Sikelela Ndlazi, said the centre would dominantly tackle human rights issues based on campus and will offer research initiatives for post-graduate students.

Consisting of three inter- related divisions, the centre will stimulate critical ­scholarship in the field of human rights through its postgraduate and research division.

“The aim is to establish a vibrant human rights culture in and across all campuses in which rights of all are respec-ted and protected,” Van der Merwe said.

The Legal Services division will provide legal services to individuals and groups whose fundamental rights have been abused.

Legal Services will also improve the professional capacity of paralegals, ­students, counsellors, social workers and candidate ­attorneys.

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