Jansen’s Reitz Four report ‘on its way’

2009-12-19 15:57

UNIVERSITY of Free State (UFS) vice-chancellor Jonathan Jansen claims to have finally explained his reasons for pardoning the so-called Reitz Four to Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande.

However, Jansen reacted angrily when asked when exactly he had sent the report, because the department’s director-general, Mary Metcalfe, said on Wednesday that it had not arrived.

“It is none of your business. I don’t know why it is City Press’s business; this correspondence is between the department and the university,” he said.

“I know for a fact that it was sent from my office before I went on holiday more than a week ago. I’m on holiday – don’t call me back.

Lacea Loader, UFS spokesperson, said: “The report was definitely sent to both Nzimande and Metcalfe on December 7. It was faxed and an original was posted to the minister’s office.

When Metcalfe was asked again if she was sure that the report had not arrived, she said: “I’m delighted that he sent the report and I’m looking forward to receiving it.”

She went on to say that during her meeting with Nzimande on Wednesday it was decided that she should write a gentle reminder. A handwritten note saying, “I’m looking forward to receiving the report” was faxed to Jansen’s office on Friday morning, according to Metcalfe. Loader could not confirm whether the university had received the handwritten request.

“The spirit of the request for the report was intended to be supportive and we will continue to seek the receipt of the report in that spirit,” she said.

Nzimande asked for the report more than two months ago – a day after Jansen announced the ­pardon.

On October 17 Metcalfe asked Jansen to write an urgent report explaining the rationale and the process that led to the pardon, but he did not respond.
Despite Metcalfe’s open letter to him on ­October 21 and numerous requests afterwards, Jansen dug in his heels.

“I subsequently met him on October 26 and we agreed that he would submit a ­report in three to four weeks,” said Metcalfe.
“I phoned him on November 20 to find out when the report would be coming.”

An October 21 letter inviting Jansen to meet Nzimande asked whether due disciplinary processes of the UFS had been followed.

The vice-chancellor was also asked whether he had considered the implications of setting a ­precedent for future disciplinary cases if the processes were not ­followed.

He was also asked what governance structures concurred with the breach of ­policy. Jansen was severely criticised for pardoning the four students, ­residents of UFS’s Reitz male residence.

The university was plunged into a race row last year when a video surfaced depicting the four white students participating in a mock initiation of black workers.

In his October 16 inaugural speech as the first black vice-chancellor of UFS in a century, Jansen said the four students would be ­allowed to continue studying at the institution if they wished.

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