'R1m not enough for UFS women'

2010-07-05 12:43

Cape Town – The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) says R1m for each of the women who appeared in a video made by four former University of the Free State students is "just a drop in the ocean".

This, after it lodged a request in the Equality Court in Bloemfontein for the four students to be ordered to pay the R4m in total and make a public "unqualified and generous" apology to "all black women and to all black people in general".

Spokesperson Vincent Moaga said the commission was trying to send a strong message with its request.

"One million is just a drop in the ocean."

"The humiliation those women suffered... you can't put value on dignity. One million does not go very far in alleviating the pain these ladies suffered," Moaga said.

Moaga said the commission acknowledged that it couldn't "change attitudes overnight" and that the role of education in ending discrimination was important.

As part of its request, the commission has also asked that if the university re-admits any of the four students, it must ensure that they attend training on a diversity and racial-integration programme.

Although the commission is yet to hear when the matter will be heard by the court, Moaga said its representatives would be present at the continuation of the criminal trial for the four on July 27 2010 to observe proceedings and gather information.

The four former students - RC Malherbe, Johnny Roberts, Schalk van der Merwe and Danie Grobler - are accused of humiliating the staff members in a mock initiation ceremony in 2007, which they filmed.

The video recording showed the women drinking from beer bottles, racing against each other, dancing and playing rugby.  It also shows one of the four respondents urinating into a dish that appears to contain food which is later seen being eaten by one of the women.