Reitz 4 want to appeal
Mike van Rooyen, Volksblad
Bloemfontein – The Reitz 4 have officially announced their application for leave to appeal their sentence for crimen injuria, following a video they made which they poke fun at the integration process at the University of the Free State (UFS).
The sentence laid down by Mziwonke Hinxa, chief magistrate - of a R20 000 fine or 12 months in prison, plus a further six months suspended prison term - is disproportionate to the crime, says their lawyer, Christo Dippenaar, in the notice he has submitted.
He also states that the fine exceeds the jurisdiction of the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court where they were sentenced on July 30.
The use of a news report as evidence to prove the community’s negative sentiments toward the Reitz 4 was not permitted.
The guilty plea and the facts the case rest on are not based on racial slurs. What they pleaded guilty to was wounding the dignity of the complainants.
Dippenaar also says in the notice that the suspended prison sentence is inappropriate, and the condition for suspension, linked to Article 21 of Act 4 of 2000, in particular, is not an appropriate or an allowed condition.
It boils down to discrimination against someone based on the colour of their skin, which could amount to a guilty verdict in the equality court.
The date on which their application for leave to appeal will be heard is yet to be determined.
It was quite clear shortly after sentencing that none of the four – R C Malherbe from Hertzogville, Johnny Roberts from Hoopstad, Schalk van der Merwe from Christiana and Danie Grobler from Windhoek – were satisfied with their sentence.
In the video, five UFS workers portray the roles of first-year students at the Reitz residence. The video won a first prize in 2007 during a cultural evening at the residence.
Five months later, the video surfaced again and was widely distributed. It caused a national and an international uproar.
Besides this possible appeal, the four still face a trial in the equality court in the Free State High Court in which the workers are claiming R1m from the Reitz 4 and the UFS.