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Don't jail Reitz 4 - complainants

2010-07-28 22:03

Bloemfontein - The five University of the Free State workers humiliated in a student video in 2007 do not want the young men to go to prison, the Bloemfontein District Court heard on Wednesday.

State prosecutor Johan Kruger told Chief Magistrate Mziwonke Hinxa the workers told him in consultation the former students should not go to prison, but must be taught a lesson.

"Treat all people with respect and dignity, that message must come through."

Kruger said the four men should be punished, not their parents.

"They must feel it."

RC Malherbe, Johnny Roberts, Schalk van der Merwe and Danie Grobler on Tuesday pleaded guilty to a charge of crimen injuria.

The charges relate to their humiliating five black workers in an initiation-type ceremony in 2007, which they filmed while living at the University if the Free State's now-closed men's Reitz residence.

Kruger said although the State agreed with the submission that they shouldn't go to jail, the sentence should act as a deterrent.

Apology

What made the students' case far worse was that it involved young people treating older people badly. Kruger said the message should also go out that initiation at schools and universities must stop.

According to the prosecutor the women said they were grateful the students had pleaded guilty and apologised.

"They (women) did not want to come and testify, so it was better for them to apologise," said Kruger.

Kemp J Kemp, for the students, asked the court for a reasonable fine as sentence.

He submitted that unlike other crimen injuria cases, the accused did not have a motive to cause direct harm to the complainants.

The men were not the sadistic, cruel young men they had been made out to be, who forced the complainants to perform the acts in the video.

"It was far from the truth."'

If the men had wanted to harm the workers, they would really have urinated into a mixture the workers were seen eating.

Remorseful

"They are indeed remorseful. They have told the truth on certain aspects, although it could have a detrimental effect on their case."

Kemp said the young men "displayed the sensible attitude" by wanting a restorative justice process. This, however, failed because the complainants were told not to continue with it.

"They have still not apologised to the women (in person) but they will apologise if they can meet," Kemp said.

It was also submitted that the students had not had it easy since the video was made public.

"Everyone has had a go at them, their parents and they were fair game to anyone. They have suffered."

Kemp said their guilty plea was punishment enough as it would affect every aspect of their life from now on.

The matter was adjourned for sentencing to Friday.