News24

UFS workers want court action

2010-02-23 20:05

Bloemfontein - Five University of the Free State workers filmed in a racist student video are not interested in restorative justice, but want criminal proceedings to continue.

"The [crimen injuria] case will proceed," said Mothusi Lepheane, head of the SA Human Rights Commission's office in the Free State

Four former students RC Malherbe, Johnny Roberts, Schalk van der Merwe and Danie Grobler are accused of humiliating the five workers - four women and a man - in an initiation-type ceremony in 2007, which they filmed while living at the university's now closed Reitz men's residence.

The matter is expected to come before the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court on Wednesday.

Govt committee


The court postponed the matter in 2009 for a process of restorative justice to be followed after the students made representations to the provincial director for public prosecutions (DPP).

A committee of three, under the chairmanship of the head probation officer of social development in Bloemfontein, Riaan du Plessis, was elected to try and resolve the matter by way of alternative dispute resolution.

Lepheane said the five workers and their lawyer approached his office after their first meeting with the mediators to indicate they were not interested in the mediation process.

"There are a number of reasons why, which I cannot say," he said.
Lepheane said that he advised them to speak to the mediators directly when they met again.

"The complaints came again to my office and they asked that I should tell them [the mediators]."

Lepheana said the workers decision was again conveyed to the DPP and the mediators over the weekend.

"Today (Tuesday) we confirmed it (again) with the mediators in my office."

Everything set for meeting

A report on the failed restorative process was expected to be handed to the court on Wednesday.
Lepheane said complainants did not have to give their reasons for refusing mediation.

The students' legal representative Christo Dippenaar said the case would probably continue this week.

He confirmed that the mediators had met with him and the students twice over the past weeks and that everything was set for the final meeting.

"We understood that the expectations of the complainants and the students were very close and only needed some fine tuning," said Dippenaar.

He said the students were ready to meet the complaints face to face at a final meeting, but that the process derailed on Friday with the news from the SA Human Rights Commission's office.

"We tried everything we could," Dippenaar said.