Defend Truth


A Mandela-esque solution is sacrificed on the Reitz residence bonfire

A Mandela-esque solution is sacrificed on the Reitz residence bonfire

University of Free State Professor Jonathan Jansen’s attempt to resolve the Reitz university residence drama through a complex process of mutual forgiveness and new beginnings has been excoriated by the Higher Education Minister. There goes a gesture that Madiba would surely have been proud to call his own.

Blade Nzimande’s intervention substantially ups the ante in the debate over Jonathan Jansen’s holistic solution to the Reitz drama, which would have seen two of the four  students facing racism charges return to the university to complete their studies.

Instead of being hailed as conciliator, a host of organisations and individuals including Nzimande, who heads up the higher education ministry, Cosatu, the SA Communist Party, students and the victims themselves are now on record as being strongly opposed to Jansen’s approach.

Jansen has sought to set off forgiveness of the students against measures to fundamentally change the nature of university residences and compensation for the victims of the appalling and racially motivated prank.

The four students made film in which they apparently urinated into food and gave it to their housekeepers as part of a campaign to maintain racial separation at residences. For that they still face charges in the Equality Court and are due to appear in the Bloemfontein Regional Court on Monday to face crimen injuria charges.

Nzimande argued that Jansen’s action was effectively an apology for racism which the department could not condone.

“The view of the department is that we cannot allow victims of racism to be unconditional, unilateral forgivers. This would constitute a superficial trade-off, which further impugns the dignity of the victims and is, unfortunately, an apology for the perpetrators of racism,” he said in a statement.

Jansen has refused to comment but in his column in The Times, he emphasises that his intentions are focused on institutional culture. “The problem of Reitz is not simply a problem of four racially troubled students. It is, without question, also a problem of institutional complicity.”

“For this reason it is clear that the deeper issues of racism and bigotry that prompt conflict at our university – and at many others – will not be resolved in the courts.”

Yet it was becoming clear that Jansen’s approach is flying over the heads of most constituent groups. The Times reports that a move to join the university’s two racially divided choirs was unravelling. The two choirs had sang together for the first time during Jansen’s inauguration last week.

Spokesman for the “black choir”, Sechaba Ntoi, said after his decision to allow the “racist” students back to the university, they “reject Jansen’s request” to form one choir.
“As black students we really feel let down by Jansen,” Ntoi told The Times.

By Tim Cohen


Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

[%% img-description %%]

The Spy Bill: An autocratic roadmap to State Capture 2.0

Join Heidi Swart in conversation with Anton Harber and Marianne Merten as they discuss a concerning push to pass a controversial “Spy Bill” into law by May 2024. Tues 5 Dec at 12pm, live, online and free of charge.

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.8% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.2% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.2% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.2%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options