No place for 'arrogance in reconciliation'

2011-02-25 17:39
Bloemfontein - Reconciliation in South Africa cannot be approached with arrogance, former chief justice Pius Langa said on Friday.

"There can be no arrogance, we approach reconciliation with humanity and soul searching," said Langa while opening a seminar on reconciliation at the University of the Free State.

"It cannot be easy, because we all carry so much baggage."

Langa was opening the seminar co-hosted by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and the UFS, which forms part of a two day reconciliation programme related to the so-called Reitz Four video.

The reconciliation events follow an out of court settlement between the different parties.

The Equality Court charges relate to the students humiliating the five black workers in an initiation-type ceremony in 2007, which they filmed while living at the university's now-closed Reitz men's residence.

The workers Emmah Koko, Rebecca Adams, Naomi Phororo, Mittah Ntlatseng and David Molete asked that the former students apologise to black people generally and pay them R1m each.

Langa said despite the baggage carried by all, South Africans also know that they have a responsibility for the future.

"We either build South Africa together or we inherit a legacy of destruction."

The former chief justice said discussions on reconciliation were held because the country was aware of its past.

"We see the ugliness of our past and we must move forward."

Langa said reconciliation meant for him that the country's people commit to talking and acting against those issues that remind it of its past.

"Our commitment to reconciliation must never fail," he said.

On Friday night a reconciliation ceremony would be held where the former students would read their statements of apology and the workers would respond with statements of acceptance and acknowledgement of the pleas of the students.

Former students RC Malherbe, Johnny Roberts, Schalk van der Merwe and Danie Grobler were sentenced to a R20 000 fine each, or 12 months in jail in July 2009 after pleading guilty to a charge of crimen injuria.

They were later granted leave to appeal their sentence, which would be heard in June this year.

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