Cope welcomes Reitz judgment

2010-07-31 19:06

Johannesburg - The Congress of the People said on Saturday that it welcomed the guilty verdict and sentencing of four former Free State University students, known as the Reitz Four, on crimen injuria charges.

"Cope welcomes the judgment finding the Reitz Four guilty of crimen injuria and urges all South Africans to display the strength of character to turn the page on this chapter," said party spokesperson Philip Dexter.

"These students infringed on the dignity of their fellow human beings and were rightfully found guilty."

"There is no place for this kind of behaviour in modern South Africa and Cope notes the guilty plea and subsequent apology of the students," Dexter said.

The four men, RC Malherbe, Johnny Roberts, Schalk van der Merwe and Danie Grobler were sentenced to 12 months in prison or a fine of R20 000 each on Friday in the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court.

The charges related to their humiliation of five black workers in an initiation-type of ceremony they conducted and filmed while living at the University of the Free State's now-closed Reitz men's residence in 2007.

They pleaded guilty to the charges on Monday.

Dexter described the actions of the former students as those of a "minority" that did not reflect South Africa as a whole.

"Lets work together to combat the racial tension stoked by a minority of disillusioned South Africans," he said.

Dexter claimed that racial divisions would be exploited by the ANC if allowed to persist.

"If we don't work as one to move beyond the constraints of parochial associations and ill-informed stereotypes, we will be ripe for manipulation by the ruling party's divide and conquer modus operandi," he said.