New UFS video draws anger
Pieter Steyn, Volksblad
Bloemfontein - Days after the sentencing of the so-called Reitz 4, a storm has erupted over another video made on the University of the Free State campus.
This time the video shows four students of the residence Villa Bravado being drenched with water and dragged around on a wet floor by their arms and feet during an “initiation” session, as other students watch and cheer.
The UFS has known about the video for quite some time and took interim action by suspending the primarius of the residence, Chris Nthakeni. The existence of the video was kept quiet.
After the video’s existence was pointed out to Volksblad on Monday, UFS confirmed Nthakeni’s suspension and said a disciplinary hearing against residence head, Paseka Mokoena, is also under way.
Questions are now being asked regarding the consistency of their behaviour, as a result of the Reitz video, and regarding the reality of initiation at the UFS.
The new video shows Wessel Wessels, Jonathan Bosman, Pieter Cockeran and Theuns du Buisson being initiated as new members of Villa Bravado’s house committee.
The four were appointed externally as part of UFS’ plan to make house committees more representative.
This was shortly after Professor Jonathan Jansen said during his inaugural address as rector in September 2009 that the UFS will be applying a 50-50 integration policy in residences.
At the same time, he forbade initiation on the campus. The UFS then made several strong statements condemning initiation.
Attempts to speak to students on Monday were in vain, since the UFS apparently made all house committee members sign a letter forbidding them speaking to the media.
In the video, water is thrown at the four students to the loud cheering and applause of other students. After each of them made an “oath” while in a strange position, they were dragged around on the floor by their arms and legs.
Here and there spectators also managed to land a few nasty kicks.
Nthakeni has a piece of paper in his hand, presumably the residence’s code of honour. He watches as the four are drenched and the spectators jeer.
The new video had over 7 000 hits within a short period of time on Monday on the Nuus24 website. It was met with mixed reaction.
The ANC Youth League (ANCYL), via secretary-general Vuyiswa Tulelo, says the video can’t be seen in the same light as the Reitz video.
“All parties involved are students, while the victims in the Reitz video are UFS employees.” The ANCYL bemoaned the fact that initiation still takes place at the UFS.
Pieter Mulder, leader of the Freedom Front Plus, questions the UFS’ consistency.
“We’re tired of the UFS’ one-sidedness and double standards. The UFS has known about the incident since October last year, but the rector preferred to keep the suspension of the primarius quiet.”
Blow to reconciliation at UFS
He says the video is worse than the Reitz video, since initiation has been forbidden at the UFS campus.
“The Reitz video wasn’t really initiation. This video is aggravating because initiation has been forbidden by the rector.
“Why was the primarius suspended from the house committee, but still allowed to live in the residence and study at the UFS, while the Reitz 4 were suspended and the residence closed?”
Mulder hopes the Human Rights Commission reacts just as swiftly with this video as with the Reitz video.
Wilmot James, national chair of the DA and spokesperson for education, bemoaned the new shock video.
“It’s a tragedy. It’s going to deal a huge blow to reconciliation at the UFS.”