UFS looking at criminalising initiation

2015-06-04 22:28

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Bloemfontein - The University of the Free State is looking at criminalising initiation.

According to Advocate Inez Bezuidenhout, director of the UFS Law Clinic, they hope that an open debate about the subject, which was held on Wednesday, will eventually lead to initiation being criminalised.

She believes this discussion was a first for South Africa.

“I don’t know of any similar discussions going on at other institutes,” she said.

This academic discourse was not triggered by an incident, but if we want to be a university that acts constitutionally, we have to discuss practices that imposes on people’s constitutional rights. And initiation often limits the dignity guaranteed by the Constitution,” she told News24.

“Take the Jan Kempdorp incident as an example,” she said.

“We don’t know what those boys thought, but if they knew they could be criminally prosecuted for initiation practices, things might have ended much differently."

She said that many US states have laws criminalising hazing practices, but that such laws don’t exist in South Africa.

“Here we have to differentiate between university-sanctioned orientation and initiation that has the purpose of giving students access to, and acceptance by, a group.”

She stressed, however, that the process was not as simple as merely making a law. The trial process in South Africa, compared to the process in the USA, made it much more complicated.

Bezuidenhout felt that most who attended the open debate, initiated by the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice, were sympathetic to the idea of criminalising initiation.

She said she knew, however, that initiation has a lot of supporters in South Africa.

Read more on:    university of free state  |  bloemfontein  |  education

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