UFS responds on the outcome of the court case in the alleged attack by Cobus Muller and Charl Blom on Gwebu
9 Sep 2014
The management of the University of the Free State (UFS) acknowledges the finding issued on 4 September 2014 by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) that it was "unable to find any corroborating evidence to make a conclusive finding of racism and violation of human rights" in the Muzi Gwebu case.
The university management also takes cognisance of the ruling in the Bloemfontein Regional Court by Regional Magistrate Rasheed Matthews today (9 September 2014) that both Cobus Muller and Charl Blom are found not guilty on all the charges which included reckless driving, crimen injuria, attempted murder and assault (Muller), and a charge of assault (Blom). We note the Magistrate's concerns about "inconsistencies in the evidence and exaggerations", that the complainant "displayed hostility throughout the trial" and that he was "not a reliable witness and is prejudiced." And therefore, in the words of the Magistrate to the defendants, "I've decided to give you the benefit of the doubt."
Both Muller and Blom were suspended from all campuses of the UFS on 19 February 2014 based on the evidence available at the time of reckless driving, assault and other charges. This evidence was further borne out by an internal investigation into the incident of 17 February 2014 on the Bloemfontein Campus. In the light of the evidence available to us at the time, and the volatile situation on campus in the days following the attack, the UFS management believes that it was the correct decision to suspend the students, given the serious nature of the charges, and pending a decision of the courts.
In the light of both the SAHRC ruling as the Regional Court ruling, the university management has decided to take the following steps: