News24

UFS 'not safe' for Reitz 4

2009-10-30 09:43

Bloemfontein - The lives of two of the Reitz four could be in danger should they return to the University of the Free State (UFS).

This was the opinion of some of the students who took part in the demonstration on the UFS campus on Thursday as ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema met with UFS rector, Professor Jonathan Jansen.

Although many of the students accepted Malema and Jansen's comments about reconciliation, some felt they didn’t want to see the Reitz four on campus.

Teboho Moholi and his friend, Teboho Motsieloa, said the general feeling among students was that it would be better for the Reitz four to remain off the university campus.

Two of the four have completed their studies, but the other two have been given permission to return to the campus.

'It could turn ugly'

"I really don't think it will be safe for them on campus," said Motsieloa. "People have become so carried away by the Reitz saga that they could possibly be hurt if they came back."

Moholi said many people were willing to forgive the Reitz four and to try to forget the whole business. But there were just as many people who wouldn't rest before the four were punished for the Reitz video.

"Some people say they will act against the guys if they come back and I think it could turn ugly," said Motsieloa.

Motsieloa and Moholi also thought the return of the students could lead to heightened racial tension on the campus. Moholi said it could lead to racial hatred from black students as they could feel that white people could get away with anything without retribution.

"We are already so polarised on campus and things can only get worse. It could lead to people trying to get retribution by victimising other white people," he said.

These opinions were supported by several other students. Some were not opposed to the return of the two students, but said more discussion and consideration should have taken place.

Feedback

"People had just started to forget the whole Reitz drama, now it is again a huge mess," said a student who didn't want to be identified. He said the rector should rather have stretched the decision-making process over a few months. "He would then have received more feedback and gotten a feeling about the matter from the students."

Another unidentified student said he would like to see the two Reitz men who wanted to return do community service to pay for what they'd done.

"The rector said they will be punished. Let them clean rooms and bathrooms. Then they will feel what it felt like for those women who had to live with their mess every day," he said.

He felt that the two wouldn't want to return to the UFS if they had to go through some kind of punishment procedure. "I think they would rather start over at another university than have to pay for their deeds.

This student, who was also a junior lecturer at the university, also said he thought blood could flow at the UFS if the two men returned and the punishment meted out by the university was deemed insufficient by other students.