Reitz also about gender, class

2009-10-20 13:43

Bloemfontein - The views of the four women in the University of the Free State's Reitz video must be heard, Minister of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya said on Tuesday.

"I was amazed to read that it was only last week in the British Sunday Times that we heard some comments from the four black women cleaners who were made to eat what was believed to be food urinated on by white male students," Mayende-Sibiya said.

Their voices had not been heard in the local media since the video was made in 2007, she said. It surfaced in February 2008.

She made the comments at a seminar organised by the Human Rights Commission in Johannesburg to mark Press Freedom Day.

Gender, class perspective

While the story had been covered extensively from a racial angle, there was a need to look at it from a gender and class perspective.

Hearing the matter in a court of law would give local media an opportunity to tell the story from the perspective of the victims, she said.

University of the Free State Rector Jonathan Jansen announced on Friday that the institution would drop its charges against the four students who allegedly fed residence staff urinated food.

A legal expert said on Monday that the move would have no affect on the criminal matter.

"The State is the only one who can decide if the criminal prosecution continues or not," Professor Tom Coetzee of the North West University said.

HRC charges

Jansen on Monday said the criminal charges laid by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions in the province still stood. The Human Rights Commission was also in the process of laying its own charges.

"The university simply withdrew its own complaint against the students, insofar as university processes are concerned, and on that basis decided to invite the students back to continue their studies," he said.

Mayende-Sibiya was the president of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union, which represented the affected workers, at the time of the incident.