News24

UFS Council backs Jansen

2009-10-26 22:01

Bloemfontein - The UFS Council fully supports Rector Jonathan Jansen's efforts to bring about reconciliation and transformation, council chair Judge Faan Hancke said on Monday.

The reopening of discussions on the University of the Free State's decisions to pardon the "Reitz four" will start on Wednesday.

"Professor Jansen's actions are seen in the light of his efforts to establish reconciliation within the bigger process of transformation," Hancke said.

He said the council supported all constructive efforts to enhance reconciliation and accepted Jansen's "integrity and bona fides" in handling the matter.

He expressed hope that all role players in the matter would come to an agreement, so that normality could return to the main Bloemfontein campus.

On Sunday Jansen invited any interested party to meet university management to table their concerns and try to find consensus on a way forward, following criticism of his decision to pardon the four students involved.

Case postponed

The four filmed a mock initiation of five black staff members into hostel activities in 2007. The employees, four women and a man, were seen on their hands and knees eating food which had apparently been urinated into by a white student.

The former students - RC Malherbe, Johnny Roberts, Schalk van der Merwe - appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court on Monday to face charges of crimen injuria. Danie Grobler was not in court.  Their case was postponed to February 24 2010.

At his inauguration last Friday, Jansen announced the university had pardoned the four and that they could return and continue their studies if they wanted to.

Jansen's announcement drew criticism - notably from Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, Cosatu and the ANC Youth League - and praise by the likes of Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the past week.