News24

Reitz video trial postponed

2009-08-19 14:25

Bloemfontein - The trial of four former University of the Free State students, who made a video which threw the university into a racial storm in 2008, was postponed to October this year.

Legal representative for the four accused, Christo Dippenaar, told the Bloemfontein Regional Court on Wednesday the defence would in this time also make representations to the local office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

RC Malherbe, Johnny Roberts, Schalk van der Merwe and Danie Grobler, former residents of the now-closed Reitz men's residence on the Bloemfontein campus, face charges of crimen injuria. They had not pleaded yet.

The trial, set down for two days, could also not continue because the State prosecutor in the case was sick.

Chief Magistrate Mziwonke Hinxa expressed his dissatisfaction with the defence and State not being ready.

Ample time

"The court was ready and even if I would not have been ready another magistrate would have been ready," Hinxa told the legal representatives.

He also warned the defence that they had had ample time to make representations to the DPP.

Hinxa said the State prosecutor's being sick on trial day was "unconvincing". He nevertheless granted a "final" postponement to October 26 for trial, but warned it would be the last.

The video features a mock initiation of five black staff members into hostel activities and sparked a national and international outcry last year.

In the video, students refer to the university's integration policy for campus residences announced in 2007 and implemented in 2008.

Three women and one male worker shown in the video are expected to testify.

Charges

According to the State's charge sheet one of the four men urinated into a stew which was offered to the workers to eat or drink and used the word "Sefebe" (whore) in the video.

In using the word the honour and dignity of the workers, black students and university staff, black women and black people in general was impaired, the State claims.

The university closed Reitz as a result of the video, saying the building would be changed into an "institute for diversity".