Reitz discussion starts

2009-10-28 18:52

Bloemfontein - Renewed consultations over the controversial Reitz video started at the University of the Free State on Wednesday after an announcement earlier that the students who made the video had been pardoned by the university.

The four former students made a video in which five black university employees were shown taking part in a mock initiation into hostel activities, which landed the institution in a racial storm in 2008.

The employees were filmed on their hands and knees eating food which had apparently been urinated on by a white student.

UFS spokesperson Lacea Loader said the first meeting on Wednesday took place between Mothusi Lepheana, head of the South African Human Rights Commission's (SAHRC) office in the Free State, on behalf of the five workers.

"This consultation process is a result of a decision by [UFS vice chancellor] Professor Jonathan Jansen to continue discussions around the Reitz matter, which was announced earlier this week."

Case postponed

The former students RC Malherbe, Johnny Roberts, Schalk van der Merwe and Danie Grobler of the now closed Reitz men's residence, appeared in the Bloemfontein Regional Court on Monday on charges of crimen injuria. The case was postponed to February 24.

The latest developments in the Reitz matter follow Jansen's announcement, at his inauguration a week ago, that the four could return and continue their studies if they wanted to.

The announcement drew criticism - notably from Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, the Congress of SA Trade Unions and the ANC Youth League - and praise.

Loader said during Wednesday's discussions with Lepheana it was agreed that further processes on the way forward would be announced shortly, after the SAHRC had completed its work regarding certain legal issues within the case.

"The meetings with other stakeholders, including staff and students, will be taking place continuously," she said.

The ANCYL has in the meantime announced that its president Julius Malema will lead a delegation to meet Jansen on Thursday.

The meeting would discuss Jansen's decision to pardon the students.

After the meeting, Malema was expected to address a protest march at the UFS.

The university said this week anyone who wanted to be take part in the renewed talks should contact Billyboy Ramahlele on 051-401-2822 to make an appointment.