UFS reports 'one-sided'

2008-02-29 08:03

Bloemfontein - "Why has no one yet come to speak to us?" This is the burning question of two fathers whose sons appear on the video that has now caused an international outcry.

On the video, cleaners from the Reitz residence of the University of the Free State (UFS) are "initiated" by four students from the residence.

Gert Malherbe, a farmer from Hertzogville and father of RC Malherbe, who appears on the video, says he is disappointed. "These are one-sided reports. You should?ve spoken to the children and contacted their parents. No one has tried to find out what the truth is."

James Roberts, father of Johnny Roberts, another of the four students, is a maize farmer, also from Hertzogville. "Everybody is stopping me to ask what's going on. But neither we nor my son have been contacted by the UFS or the media. We have no details and don't know exactly what it's all about," he said.

Roberts believes that if that had been done, everyone could have heard the real story. "It's unbelievable how people judge and are judged. They don't have all the facts, but just look at the negative comments being made and how people are being judged," Roberts said.

"I regard the whole thing as student fun," he said. "The thing about student fun is that it is sometimes approved of and sometimes disapproved of and politicised. And that is what really happened.

Failed attempt at integrating residences

"I'm an ex-Kovsie myself. I was a little first-year in the DF Malherbe residence in the early ?70s. Malherbe is right next to Reitz. We were enemies in rugby. This type of thing was always happening at Reitz."

Roberts says that over the years there has always been initiation in Reitz. "Só, what's happened now isn't strange. "He said he has seen his son since the video bomb exploded. "He explained to me what all the fuss was about."

Roberts said he watched the video and heard his son's side of the story, and the rest he's just had to hear and read about in the media. "I've now seen all the sides of this thing. This thing is traumatic for us - it's extremely traumatic." He said the full story has not yet been told - "only a lot of nonsense".

Whoever was responsible for releasing the video had released it as a "cover-up" for the UFS's failed attempt at integrating residences. "I believe the UFS failed badly in its attempt to integrate the residences. Why don't they leave the people (students) alone?"

He said he was not opposed to integration, but if one looks at history, it's a process that's been coming for as long as 30 to 40 years. "It's a storm in a teacup. If someone can't see the humour behind it all, I suppose it's just the difference in cultures. All that this thing has done is to upset relationships - good relationships - between the students and the cleaners.

"I want the real story to come out - the damage this thing has caused must be put right. There's been so much damage," said Roberts, "and all of it unnecessary. How does one rectify something like this? Especially after the video has caused an international outcry."