Forgiveness 'not for sissies'

2009-10-20 09:22

Cape Town - Forgiveness is not for sissies, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said on Monday, in support of the decision of the rector of the University of the Free State, Professor Jonathan Jansen, to forgive the Reitz Four.

"Your magnanimity has aroused the ire of quite a few, who argue that it could encourage a repeat of such despicable conduct; and that the perpetrators should be dealt with firmly and not with a sentimental wishy-washiness," said Tutu.

"I, on the contrary, salute you, for you have done us proud."

Jansen apologised for the conduct of the Reitz Four - who made the widely-condemned video in which cleaners were humiliated - during his inauguration speech in Bloemfontein on Friday.

He pleaded for charges to be dropped against the four and announced that they would be allowed to study at the university again.

Forgiveness instead of retribution

Tutu said he hoped the culprits and their families would have the decency to ask the victims for forgiveness - for the sake of their own spiritual health. "Without forgiveness, this incident will corrode their souls."

He compared Jansen's gesture with the example shown by former president Nelson Mandela when he favoured forgiveness instead of retribution.

"Retribution does not agree with the spirit of ubuntu, while forgiveness reflects precisely that.

Thank you for showing this spirit," wrote Tutu.

Meanwhile, despite strong criticism, Jansen on Monday stood by what he called "the right decision".

He said at a news conference in Bloemfontein that as a leader his decisions were not based on the directives of individual political parties and that he didn't let himself be influenced by those who "beat their breast for social justice".


Regarding calls for punishment, Jansen said the Reitz Four had been punished - Reitz had been closed down, their studies had been disrupted and the residents didn't stay on campus anymore.

Jansen said the practical implications of the reopening of Reitz on campus under the same name, as a "model for the meeting of black and white" were now being worked out.

The compensation of the workers in the video was also being sorted out, to ensure it was acceptable to the workers and manageable for the university.

Shortly after the news conference, upset students organised a meeting on campus to object against the university dropping the charges, the retention of the Reitz name and Jansen's management style.

  • Thabo - 2009-10-20 09:37

    Retribution gets us nowhere. Those 4 are still facing criminal charges; let the courts decide their fate on those. It is not up to me to pass judgement. Let's not ignore those things that are wrong in society but let us focus on promoting on what is right in our society.

  • Moloko wa ga mothemela - 2009-10-20 09:42

    I just wonder how much those affected were compensated...It must be huge so that they do not go back to that racist institution anymore but hey i trust the man behind ( Jansen.

  • Sonny - 2009-10-20 09:42

    I as a Afrikaans speaking citizen was ashamed when this came to light. I hope they have the guts to apologise. It was humiliating to the victims and not a prank, end of story.

  • Amanda - 2009-10-20 10:09

    I agree with Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, forgiveness is NOT for sissies!! Mr Jansen made the right decision. You cannot punish them for life for one stupid decision. Not even murderers and rapest get punished that long. I just wonder about those protesting now.. who is the real racist?? Come on, you are just being used for political gain, open your eyes and start thinking for yourselves.

  • andilekakuzwayo - 2009-10-20 11:10

    Did anybody ask the ladies who's rights were transgressed about withdrawing the charges.

    This is a prime example of how the poor, the have-nots the currently dis-enfranchised are not consulted on things directly affecting them and their dignity. Who made him daddy? How does he have the right to decide on somebody's elses behlaf?

    Dear Prof J. J.
    The forgiveness is not yours to grant. There was a trangression and the transgressor can only receive forgiveness from the transgressee. Your actions are instead another reminder of the quasi patriarchal system of subjugation the peoples of this country faced under that criminal government of ignorance, hate and fear of the old order.

  • mandla - 2009-10-20 12:16

    I fail to see how the racist acts of the 4 white boys were done in the spirit of advancing white people's political aspirations. All white people without exception deplored and disassociated themselves from the acts. They showed gross depravity and perversion which no university in the world will condone except Prof Jansen!

    Prof Jansen is currying white favour at our expense. If you commit a crime like that you pay for it. What reconciliation is he talking about?

    Any university in the world will bar you for life if you mess up with excrement, mix it with food and dupe elderly and trusting women to eat it.

    It has nothing to do with transformation, or the quest for an Afrikaner state .. it is sheer criminality and perversity. You do it you must suffer the consequences.

    And I really dont go out there and think all Afrikaners are like that. It's something all of us black and white have agreed about and drew a line of decency on the sand. It ranks with child rape, rape of women, in the sene that the perpertrator defines himself outside all human decency. Would you forgive a child rapist for reconciliation? what reconciliation? Prof Jansen belongs in cuckooland. He has insulted all of us. he is out of touch with reality in the 21st century!

    Except that an aged, out of toiuch coloured Prof, thought otherwise and abused all our sensibilities and sense of justice.

  • Isaac - 2009-10-20 12:42

    Not so long ago, a mother forgave the killers of her daughter, she also went a step further by helping them.I am refering to the Amy Bhiel saga. Why was there no out cry. I think we forget very easily.

  • mandla - 2009-10-20 12:49

    If you think I am wrong think of it this way: A group of 4 black youths attack an elderly white couple on a farm at night. They bludgeon them with a blunt instrument, rape the elederly woman who is her seventies and kill her and her husband and then steal cash, cell phones and fire arms. The youths claim that poverty drove them to do this! Then Prof Mandla comes along and says "You know what I have a brilliant idea. These youths have an education to complete and a life to live, so all white people must forgive these black youths because black people need their "forgiveness" as a condition for participation in reconciliation, stopping farm murders and to particiapte in transformation!" It is outrageous and absurd and shows a gross insensitivity and lack of grasp of political issues. I for one fail to see why my political aspirations can be served by condoning a gross violent remorseless criminal act! This will give you an idea or perspective tand the extent of the damage done by a well meaning but politically misinformed and naive professor Jansen to both white and black people in South Africa! It insults all the good work done by Mandela and deKlerk in this country. It ranks with the biblical call by the robber who said to Jesus at Golgotha "You are a son of God save us now!" prof Jansen's words may sound morally true but they lack context, understanding and appreciation of the people of South Africa. Like the robber at Golgotha his words ring hollow, devoid of context but some kind of jeering at us who know what reconciliation means.

  • JBS - 2009-10-20 12:54

    Some writers to this forum clearly show how much hatred they still have in them.Truly,forgiveness isn't for sissies, and truly hatred will corrode your souls,like Desmond Tutu says.The most powerful act you can perform in order to cleanse your soul from this corrosion is the act of forgiveness.Else,you will carry that burden and forever be unhappy

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