News24

Ruling should end Reitz saga

2010-07-30 18:05

Bloemfontein - The sentencing of the "Reitz Four" students should be seen as the final chapter of the case, the Freedom Front Plus said on Friday.

FF Plus youth leader Jan van Niekerk said although the students were found guilty of crimen injuria, after pleading guilty, it was a pity the matter could not be solved out of court.

"If the reconciliatory attitude of the University of the Free State's rector Jonathan Jansen at some stage (was) followed by all parties, the case would have been less damaging for the workers, the students, the UFS and South Africa."

Van Niekerk said it would have been an example of reconciliation.

The four former students were sentenced to a R20 000 fine each or 12 months imprisonment in the Bloemfontein Magistrate's court on Friday.

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's now-closed Reitz men's residence.

Bloemfontein Chief Magistrate Mziwonke Hinxa sentenced the four young men to a further six months imprisonment wholly suspended for five years on certain conditions.

Van Niekerk said the FF Plus was of the opinion that the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in the Free State played a role in the "unforgiving" attitude that prevailed before the trial.

The youth leader urged the public, the media, the UFS and the workers involved to regard the matter as closed.

"It would be regrettable if the civil case for R1m claims against each student by the workers and the SAHRC would continue."

Van Niekerk said further litigation would not benefit relationships and would be against the "good spirit" which was brought about by the 2010 soccer tournament.

"Nobody won from this matter. The whole exaggerated saga was bad for South Africa because it was drawn out and blown out of proportion."