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The UFS issues a statement regarding the outcome of recent court case
2014-09-15

A significant number of reports appeared in the media the past week regarding this alleged attack, which happened on the Bloemfontein Campus of the UFS on 17 February 2014.

Although the senior leadership of the UFS is always in favour of good and objective journalism, we find it unfortunate that some of the facts are reported in a misleading and/or inaccurate way by some of the local media.

It is important to us that the true facts are stated. Not only for the sake of those involved, but also for our staff, students, alumni and other important stakeholders.

Here are the facts:

1.    The university was not the complainant. The alleged incident was reported to the South African Police Service (SAPS) by the victim, Muzi Gwebu, and the charges were laid by the State.

2.    At no point did the university management in any of its public statements describe this incident as a case of racism; not once. Charges of racism, then and now, must be proven, not assumed to be true simply because someone alleges racism. That is our standard approach, then and now.

3.    Cobus Muller and Charl Blom were suspended by the university, not expelled – pending the results of the court case. Emotions were running high among members of the student body and, on grounds of the evidence available to the university management at the time, as well as concerns for student and campus safety, they were suspended pending the outcome of a court hearing. This is normal procedure. Suspension does not mean you are guilty; it means you have a case to answer, either according to the university's disciplinary procedures or in the courts. For these reasons the university management will not apologise for the suspension.

4.    The university awaited the outcome of the court case before deciding whether disciplinary action should also be taken against Cobus Muller and Charl Blom. In the light of both the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and the Regional Court rulings, the university management subsequently decided to lift the suspensions of both Muller and Blom from all campuses of the university with immediate effect.

Muzi Gwebu laid serious charges with the SAPS almost immediately after the incident, and the university management believed, on the evidence then available, that the students had a case to answer.
 
5.    As the Director of Public Prosecutions decides on who will be prosecuted and who not, there are no grounds for the university to pay the legal fees of any of the students in this case.
 
Finally:
The University of the Free State will not be fazed by inaccurate and distorted information, rumour and exaggerations. We are still striving to become a truly excellent university, with a focus on the academic, but also the human development of our students.

Issued by: Lacea Loader (Director: Communication and Brand Management)
Tel: +27 (0) 51 401 2584 | +27 (0) 83 645 2454
E-mail: news@ufs.ac.za

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