Free State University decision condemned 11

Professor Jonathan Jansen is well known as someone with strong views and the determination to express them in public when necessary. This served him well during his time as Dean of Education at Pretoria University.

At his inaugural lecture at the University of the Free State on Friday he announced that the institution would drop charges against the four students involved in the infamous Reitz Residence scandal.

His desire to draw a line under the incident on move on to substantive transformation at the university is understandable, but has not been widely supported.

There were initial concerns expressed about the decision but the furore has not died down. Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande called for the decision to be suspended – a call which has now been supported by all his Cabinet colleagues.

Unions have been more vocal in their attacks. Nursing union Denosa has questioned Jansen’s ability to run the university, and Cosatu in the Free State have called for his removal from the position.

Professor Jansen seems to have taken all the major role players off guard when he made the announcement. He said at the time that he had consulted with all the stakeholders, but that has been denied by the unions and workers involved.

The absence of an apology from the four young men who humiliated the cleaners at the residence is a clear omission. How do we expect the victims to behave if they meet the students on campus?

However the criminal case and equality court hearings against the four students will continue. Maybe the case is better served in a court of law rather than a university hearing.

Professor Jansen has also not expressed clearly enough that the young men have already been punished to some degree. All had to interrupt their studies and the residence has been closed. So they aren’t going away without any consequences for their action, even though many would argue that the consequences were not severe enough.

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11 thoughts on “Free State University decision condemned


    I personally thing professor did not consider the impact of this decision before he decide to share it with the public, and i think now professor should move out and allow someone who will try to bring things in order for the benefit of new potential whether African, White, Indians and Coloured students. The impact of the apartheid system in this country was very huge and there is absolutely nothing that we can do to burry it but for the future of this country we need to move on and build one Winning Nation.

    Regards Zibo

  • Catherine Martin

    Prof Jansen’s response to the Reitz four is understandable for anyone who has read his recent book “Knowledge in the blood”. I think we may have forgotten Mr Mandela’s ability to deal with racism….so while Prof Jansen is being his usual controversial, he is also taking the lead in what could be highly transformative for the University. Please rush out and read his book, it is life changing!

  • MillieRasekoala

    I think it was misguided and insensitive and brings into question his credibility as a leader. No matter what our position is in an organisation, we should all feel that we can trust those who have been placed in a position of leadership, that their decisions will be fair, legitimate and above reproach. However what Jansen has done is to set the nation back to a time when black people could not gurantee fairness nor even acknowledgement for their pain. Millie Rasekoala

  • Lemmy Mnguni

    Alan, I m just asking myself now that should one of those women been a blood relative of Jansen, would he still came up with the same conclusions? Does the Prof understand the word “humiliation”? If you make troubles for yourself, then you must live with those troubles, and that’s what the 4 deserve.

  • Klaas Riemann

    As always, the subject of racism inflames and often clouds the discussion. Those four students behaved in a manner which they must have known would greatly harm the image of their institution in the eyes of the general public. The fact that it was a deliberate and carefully planned act and not a momentary aberration demonstrates that they are basically unfit members of this institution, and that they should be expelled immediately.

    To argue that this was only a prank, that the cleaninging women were willing participants, that the students’ actions were never intended to become nationally known, that an apology would mitigate, that…, does not alter the fact that these people have shown their complete disregard for the values and standards espoused by their institution.

    Why they have not been expelled raises serious questions about the real standards and values enacted in this university. To mention reconciliation in this context is very strange – surely it is simply a matter of judging the crimen injuria’, applying punishment and counselling, and making an example of unacceptable behaviour in our modern South African society. There cannot and should not be reconciliation with people who show their disrespect of others’ dignity.

  • Sean Bowes

    I like the attitude of prof Jansen, but I am not sure that this decision will not have far reaching consequences. It could create a huge precedent in that previous and future students who have been expelled could request they they be reinstated. Make no mistake, those students acted in a very extreme and discriminating way, and they should apologise publicly to the people they humiliated. But I just think that the precednet that is created will haunt the university in the long run.

  • Leon Pillay

    Amazing, we start hearing terms of reconciliation, transformation and so on. What is daunting, there is so much more media coverage given to the now Prof Jansen and yet so little about the victims of such actions. South Africa’s media, still so in the loop.

    Even more callous are some individuals arguing the behaviour of the women. Suppose it is easy to lay blame on the women, regardless of how they got to the point in behaving in a so unacceptable mannner. Let us not forget, that our values remind us of how we should treat people who are older, let alone women.
    Young individuals regardless of race behaving in such unethical ways should be condemed. As for Patrick, if a view is worth 5c, then please it is not worth publishing on the skills universe. Our views are worth much more than that if you want to attach some monatery value.

    Prof Jansen, so as soon as we attach the title Prof we assume that the intellect supercedes more the being in one. Like we all know he is human, and human is form but unfortuanetly he lacks the consciouness of being. A prof regardless of the intellect who lacks the understanding of diversity, where values of importance are not necassarily common to all people regardless of culture or race. A one sided decision regardless of the public interest, where is the intellect here? Suppose it is difficult especailly when one has not challenged oneself in appreciating and understanding other’s differances. How much of an intellect can one be? When one does not understand, or rather one does not care, about the array of veiws of differant people. So much for the intellects, of which many today in SA are silent, only becuase most were the intellects of the past who grapple with the inability to transform only because they conform to traditional behaviours in there so called mono-racial livlihoods.

    Professor Jonathan Jansen should be removed, his decision undermines our national spirit of change and transformation in our higher education institutions. He can only become the catalyst to a group of resistors of change within many of our higher institutions of learning. This can be detrimental to our vision of empowering our youth and our people.

  • Bronwyn Newman

    I totally agree with you Rahman. I do not believe that Professor Jonathan Jansen should be removed his decision is neither political or racial. I am sure his decision was not calis and was well thought of.

  • Thulisile Madela

    I think these students have paid for their sins now we need to let go really, what happened to forgive and forget, beside being white or black students will always be students, we have a lot of problems in south africa to put our effort solving them then waisting time with students, im black and i know that black students could have done that also, we have a world cup coming soon and we dont have a club or coach lets focus on issues like that pls.

  • Rahman Murtuza

    There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the 4 culprit did a monstrous job with the cleaners and that is the reason why the court case is going ahead. Professor Jansen is an Academic who sees the opportunity to heal racial differences in a different way and not by being racist himself. He is not a politician hence his decision is being viewed purely by the Minister and his cabinet colleagues in a political way. For me it is purely a decision by the Professor to bring the people together and allow EDUCATION to heal cultural and racial differences. By expelling them from the university does not make them better human, nor does it teach them to change their attitude. It would have been better if the Minister would have suggested that these four people does community work at local under privilege institution in order to rehabilitate and bring remorse back to them. These four culprits need better education and should be treated accordingly. The court of law hopefully will punish them for the atrocity that they have committed, why should they be punished again. By killing a criminal we do not bring to life the dead one, but by educating and institutionalise someoen we may change his bad habits. The decision by the political parties should not be to win votes but to change our society into believing that we CAN LIVE TOGETHER. Thanks

  • Therina van Zyl


    It’s now too late for Prof Jansen to say that students who misbehave will get their marching orders. Where were the University officials when this incident took place?

    Maybe Prof Jansen should knock on an international company’s door to obtain guidelines to draw up policies and procedures and, even more important, to communicate the content to the students and staff.

    You don’t belittle any living being like this.

    I support Mister Nzimande stance.