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13 October 2020 | Story Prof John Mubangizi | Photo Sonia du Toit
Prof John C Mubangizi is Dean: Faculty of Law, University of the Free State.

South Africans are sick and tired of corruption. They are angry, frustrated and despondent. And they have every reason to be. South Africa has many problems: crime, unemployment, poverty, gender-based violence, inequality, low economic growth and now – in common with many other countries – COVID-19. The list goes on and on. What makes corruption the biggest threat among all these is that it cuts across all of them and impacts on their gravity in different ways. 

The South African Constitution envisages a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights. The way things are going, that society is never likely to happen. That is because corruption has been, and continues to be, the greatest threat to any possibility of realising that constitutional dream. In South Africa, like everywhere else where corruption is rampant, it occurs both in the public and private sectors, where it affects democracy and human rights by deteriorating institutions and diminishing public trust in government. It impairs the ability of government to fulfil its obligations and ensure accountability in the delivery of economic and social services like healthcare, education, clean water, housing, and social security. This is because corruption diverts funds into private pockets – which impedes delivery of services – thereby perpetuating poverty, inequality, injustice and unfairness. The problem is aggravated when government is the main culprit. “Government” here, of course, refers to the dictionary meaning of the term, namely, “the group of people with the authority to govern a country or state”.

Corruption existed in ancient Egypt, China and Greece

There are those who argue that corruption is as old as mankind and, therefore, it is here to stay. Indeed, corruption is known to have existed in ancient Egypt, ancient China and ancient Greece. In Robert Bolt’s 16th Century play A Man for All Seasons, Richard Rich’s opening remark is “But every man has his price.” In the 1836 play The Government Inspector, Nikolai Gogol cleverly satirised the human greed, stupidity and extensive political corruption in Imperial Russia at the time. And in a recent article in The Conversation (28 August 2020), Steven Friedman wonders why South Africans express shock at corruption when “it is perhaps the country’s oldest tradition.” He locates the advent of corruption in South Africa at the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck in 1652, through to the ensuing colonialism and apartheid. He argues that in reality, “corruption has been a constant feature of South African political life for much of the past 350 years. It is deeply embedded and it will take a concerted effort, over years, not days, to defeat it”. 

Agreed, but does it have to be that way? At the time of Jan van Riebeeck and during the 350 years of colonialism and apartheid, we did not have the legal framework that we have now. Here is a brief overview of that framework.

Read full article here

Opinion article by Professor John C Mubangizi, Dean: Faculty of Law, University of the Free State


News Archive

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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