Jansen let the racists off the hook - JFAF

Justice for All Forum says UFS decision has taken the country backwards

The JFAF is outraged at the dropping of charges against the "racists" Reitz 4

The Justice for All Forum is astounded that the four students; namely RC Malherbe, Johnny Roberts, Schalk van der Merwe and Danie Grobler formerly of the Reitz men's residence from the University of Free State; have been pardoned. We question as to how the Principal (Professor Jonathan Jansen) could let these racists off the hook without even consulting the victims. These are young adults from whom the public expected better but they abused the trust shown to them by the varsity cleaners when they decided that their idea of having fun is to be cruel to their campus helpers.

It is not a coincidence that these racists targeted elders who happened to be Black, because racist taunts are customary in Free State. It is so unfortunate that that incident took us back in terms of reconciliation of our society and Prof Jansen's leniency takes us even further back as a country. It is evident that Prof Jansen is trying to curry favour with his masters and thus gain acceptance from the University council. Be that as it may, should he be unwittingly doing this at all costs?

The conclusion we have come to is that Professor Jonathan Jansen, is probably a racist himself otherwise how does he justify his insensitive actions. The irony of it all is that on the 16 October on SA fm, on the Tim Modise show, he opportunistically and patronisingly told the public (wherein he was especially targeting Black African people), that he wanted to transform the University in the name of Black people. It is clear that he was paving a way for his unilateral cancellation of the probe into the cruel and racist actions of the Reitz 4.

Prof Jansen made his audacious statement/announcement the following day which fitted the missing piece in the puzzle. When vulnerable, lowly paid and semi literate cleaners who are kind and friendly to students (young and old of all races), are targeted by being fed food that has been pissed on and God knows what else was mixed with it, we can't help but wonder if these young men even have a conscience. The unsuspecting ladies who knew little about the evil intentions of these students found themselves falling victim of the most vicious racist act yet.

After these racists actions we expected the media, to play its part in terms of telling the victims' side of the story but this was obvious wishful thinking on our part. It is difficult to imagine how the victims' families, relatives, friends, neighbours and co-workers will look at them after this incident. We would like to ask the authorities to take a dim view of Prof Jansen on future assignments. We challenge the University to verify in their archives whether other offenders were pardoned by the University. If there are any who were expelled, then those students must also be reinstated in the interest of reconciliation.

If Professor Jansen thinks that racism doesn't constitute elements of crime against humanity, then we wonder about his state of mind. What are the conditions which have been stipulated for these racists before they can return to life on campus? We believe that there should be some community service or some form of punishment attached to their pardon by the Vice Chancellor. Why didn't the University consult or reach a consensus or agreement with the student body and most importantly with the victims?

Are the victims too beneath the Vice Chancellor that he was not going to reduce himself and come down from his high horse to seek their opinion? In terms of the healing process that he claims to advocate, does it include a diversity workshop? What is the envisaged counselling which the victims need to go through that has been arranged for them to be treated for their traumatic ordeal? Prof Jansen talks about transformation all of a sudden, yet he spent 6 years at the University of Pretoria as a Dean of Education but there is little or nothing to substantiate it in terms of material changes for the better that the department enjoyed under his tutelage.

The institution has little to offer in terms of transformation and the department in question remains lily White which begs the question does he even understand the meaning of the word transformation? Is he even telling the truth when he says "I dropped the charges of the Reitz 4 in the name of reconciliation"? or is this a convenient but lame excuse? The JFAF would like our institutions of democracy, namely the Public Protector to investigate Professor Jansen for misleading the public, dereliction of duty and for gross negligence plus abuse of power.

We also intend to write to the Human Rights Commission urging them to continue with their investigation and make their findings public. We view this unfortunate incident as a criminal offense and a gross injustice to the people of South Africa as such the relevant law enforcement institutions should not relent in their pursuit of justice which must not only be done but must also be seen to be done. We are disappointed in Prof Jansen and as a JFA Forum we have lost confidence in him. Accordingly we will be following the events at UFS very closely

Statement issued by the Justice for All Forum, October 21 2009

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