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03 April 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Vhugala Nthakheni
Uhuru Qwaqwa Arrival
The #UFSWalkToUhuru team arrives at the UFS Qwaqwa Campus on Friday 22 March.

The University of the Free State (UFS) Division of Student Affairs, in collaboration with the UFS Office for International Affairs, have joined hands to drive a fundraising and student-accessibility initiative dubbed, ‘The Walk to Uhuru’ (#UFSWalktoUhuru), which is aimed at raising funds and advocating for the educational rights of the less privileged. 

The project aims to raise funds in excess of R2 million from the public and stakeholders affiliated with the UFS (Kovsie staff and students). The project derives from the 2018/2019 UFS Institutional Student Representative Council (ISRC) mandate ‘Students Must Graduate’. The ISRC mandate aims to source funding opportunities for UFS students to register, and to complete their studies across all three campuses in 2020 and beyond.

The first leg of the project, a 350 km walk from the Bloemfontein to the Qwaqwa Campus, has already taken place and concluded on Friday, 22 March 2019 as planned. The #UFSWalkToUhuru team successfully completed the first leg of their journey to academic freedom for financially disadvantaged students at the UFS. The Uhuru team is now focusing its attention on the second leg and is determined to take on Mount Kilimanjaro (Uhuru) from 20 June to 20 July 2019.

The team sat down for a debriefing session to unpack the overall experience and result of the first half of the initiative, and they all agreed that the walk to Qwaqwa was an enlightening experience. It was a walk that comprised learning opportunities, team building, and goal crushing.

According to Rethabile Motseki, member of the #UFSWalkToUhuru team, the walk to Qwaqwa made a significant impact on the project, as the university community is now aware of the significant goals that the team is trying to accomplish. The team has also resumed their fitness-training programme to ensure that they are ready to take on the Uhuru climb in June.

A media briefing will take place shortly (date to be confirmed) to detail the ongoing fundraising initiatives rolled out by the #UFSWalkToUhuru team.  We implore you, and the nation as a whole, to help establish a better future for disadvantaged UFS students by donating to the initiative.

Students, staff, and the public can support the cause and make contributions/donations to the initiative by visiting the UFS Walk to Uhuru #givengain account page.

For more information, contact UFS SRC President, Sonwabile Dwaba, on DwabaSJ@ufs.ac.za  or Rethabile Motseki on MotsekiR@ufs.ac.za  

News Archive

UFS responds on the outcome of the court case in the alleged attack by Cobus Muller and Charl Blom on Gwebu
2014-09-09

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:

1.    The suspensions of both Muller and Blom from all campuses of the university are lifted with immediate effect.

2.    Muller may attend a forthcoming graduation ceremony during which the degree BSc Construction Management will be officially conferred upon him. He completed all the requirements for the degree in 2013, but was not allowed to attend the graduation ceremony of 11 April 2014 due to his suspension and the fact that the criminal charges were still pending.

3.    Blom may return to the university to complete his studies.

4.    The UFS is in discussion with the parents of one of the students and, if required, would also meet with legal counsel of the university, as well as those of students Muller and Blom to discuss any further steps given the outcome of the court case.

5.    In short, on grounds of the ruling by die SAHRC, as well as the Bloemfontein Regional Court, the university will not continue with its disciplinary action against Muller and Blom.

Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS said: “This has been a very difficult time for the university and I am pleased to record that throughout the crisis, the student body on the Bloemfontein Campus showed remarkable restraint and discipline, confirming also the broad, non-racial character of the peaceful protests that followed. Our student body has matured and our campus cultures are much more inclusive and transformed as a result of the quality and depth of student leadership over the past few years. The new Student Representative Council (SRC) is a splendid example of this – with the first black woman President (Mosa Leteane) and the first blind woman SRC student leader (Louzanne Coetzee).”

“I am pleased that the matter is now behind us and, again, we rest with the decisions of the Commission and the Courts as final,” he said.

Prof Jansen also apologised on behalf of the UFS to Cobus Muller and Charl Blom, their parents, and their families, for the disruption that the suspension brought in their lives and for the stress they had to bear during this difficult period. “For that, I am truly sorry,” he said.


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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