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Twenty-eight female guards were unfairly dismissed by a security company because the client‚ Metrora.


By Kgothatso Shai | Oct 22, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

THE recent decision by University of Free State vice-chancellor Jonathan Jansen to pardon the four white students who urinated over food eaten by the university's workers is disheartening.

What is more unfortunate is that the criminals will be allowed back on campus, while the university foots the bill for their foolish acts in the form of reparation to the victims.

Jansen's decision is ill-informed and is based on strategic miscalculations coupled with ignorance.

Steve Biko would have turned in his grave when the so-called "first black vice-chancellor" sought to bail out the white racists using the money of black students and taxpayers not party to their activities.

This decision raises serious questions about Jansen's racial identity and his stance on the struggle for the emancipation of women.

His talk and actions are neither black nor African, if we use Biko's definition.

According to Biko, "Being black is not a matter of pigmentation - being black is a reflection of a mental attitude".

It doesn't make sense for the university to compensate the victims using institutional funds because the perpetrators committed their evil deeds in their personal capacities.

It is needless to mention that the perpetrators are not university employees, but just criminal students.

The most logical thing for Jansen to have done was to allow internal disciplinary processes to unfold.

An independent tribunal would have arrived at a fair judgment and sound punitive measures for the four students.

Perhaps, the punishment could have entailed a fine that could be used to compensate their victims.

The students' behaviour renders them unfit to study or reside at the university.

The workers might be compensated, but the money cannot restore their dignity.

The university could have used this case to send a message to its community and to South Africa - that it does not have any room for discrimination.

Ironically, Jansen's decision implies that the dignity of blacks at UFS can be bought with money.

It also means a reversal of the gains made in respect of the creation of a non-sexist, nonracial and democratic South Africa.

This should be understood within the context that the victims of the Reitz incident are not only black, but are women who were made to suffer for a long time, both because of their gender and race.

The UFS should embark on special initiatives to foster racial reconciliation instead of waiting for acts ofinjustice to trigger their efforts.

Justice and reconciliation are two sides of a coin that are equally important.

Prioritising one at the expense of the other is short-sighted.

It is on record that Jansen is not new to controversy, if one recalls his reactionary language regarding higher education mergers.

He rejected historically black universities (HBUs) as non-universities.

Despite his blackness, as the case is put, the key question to ask is, whose interests does he represent?

His leadership style and attitude should be rejected with the contempt it deserves.

Notwithstanding this, Jansen cannot afford to be a lone ranger in an island of whites and logic credits his thinking paradigm in favour of the majority that he is supposed to lead.

His announcement should be seen as a move to solicit the endorsement of the Afrikaner constituency at the UFS and in Free State province as a whole.

l The writer teaches international relations at the University of Venda and is the author of Rethinking United States-South Africa Relations.


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