Racism plagues UFS

Despite the appointment of its first black vice chancellor, the University of the Free State (UFS) still gets slammed with allegations of racism.

In 2009 when Professor Jonathan Jansen was appointed as the first black vice chancellor of UFS, hopes were high that this could be the change the university needed to fight back against racist claims. All facts point to Jansen having made in-roads, despite the slamming he is now receiving from the student movement.

Luzuko Buku, representative of the South African Students Congress (SASCO) said: “What Jansen has done since his arrival in the University of Free State is not to transform the university from its notorious racist conditions on black students but he has been working very hard to protect and cover up racism by sweeping such cases under the carpet.”

Covering up 

Last week it was alleged that two white UFS students, Kobus Muller and Charl Blom, tried to drive over a group of black pedestrians, side-swiping Dumane “Muzi” Gwedu, a fifth year BCom student. Gwedu then followed the car until it came to a stop where he approached the two drivers. This resulted in a violent attack on Gwedu.[pullquote] “The accused called the victims “kaffirs” and then drove off”[/pullquote]

A News24 article reported that Jansen had doubts about whether the incident was indeed racist, even though the accused called the victims “kaffirs” and then drove off.

During his inaugural speech in 2009, Jansen chose to forgive four white UFS students who, in 2008, filmed a video humiliating and degrading black campus workers. In his speech, Jansen dropped the case against these students and said, “They are my students. I cannot deny them any more than I can deny my own children.”

The move was controversial with some terming it a brave gesture of reconciliation and others warning it sent the wrong message to racists. Since the incident, Jansen has been blamed for adopting too reconciliatory an approach.

Racist reports 

Other incidents of alleged racism at UFS were reported in 2010 when a female student, Pinky Mokemane, was dragged next to a car driven by two white UFS students.[pullquote align=”right”]”Student accommodation for a ‘non-affirmative action’ female.”[/pullquote]

In January 2014, an advertisement appeared in a Bloemfontein newspaper, advertising student accommodation for a “non-affirmative action” female. The VC reacted by distancing himself and the university from the advert, which shows embedded racial profiling within the UFS community. He said:  “The varsity does not oversee private accommodation and it makes it difficult to regulate the ridiculous requirements they have of some students.”

Another ongoing example of racial profiling at UFS is their residence segregation. It appears that there are still many residences which give white students preference. With only 20% of UFS students being accommodated at the institution’s residences it is hard enough finding a spot if you’re white, let alone black.

UFS has its form of a transformation office too, the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice, an institute made for research and discussion among specialists, international students and politicians.

The general student body apparently can go to the Human Rights desk. This desk was not available for three days. The co-ordinator, Breggie Hofman Wits Vuvuzela was informed, was out of town and the second in charge “had a crisis”. Students will just have to save those reports of racism for later.



Wits outplayed in opening match of Varsity Cup

The Wits rugby team suffered a 61-8 defeat to the University of Free State (Shimlas) in their first Varsity Cup match at the Wits rugby stadium on Monday night.

Wits only managed to get on the scoreboard by virtue of a try by centre Jacques Erasmus and a penalty from flyhalf Laitume Fosita.

The Wits game was characterized by missed opportunities and physical displays by both teams.

Although Wits were the first to get on the scoreboard the celebrations from the crowd were short-lived when Shimlas responded with penalty of their own, a try and fruitful conversion to bring the score to 8-2.

The match was played in wet conditions but Shimlas dominated from kick-off with a strong physical display.

Riaan Arends received a yellow card for an infringement near the Wits try line and Shimlas took advantage scoring another try to bring the score to 16- 2

Coming into the clash, the pressure was on the Witsies to deliver following their promotion from the Varsity Shield to the Varsity Cup.

Wits was down 2-32 at half time and the home team seemed rattled by the tough Shimlas side.

Wits didn’t fare any better in the second half as they missed a number of penalties but were still able to display some strong defense. But Shimlas continued their onslaught with noteworthy drives and tackles.

The referees were not popular among the Wits crowd as they believed a number of faults by Shimlas were missed.

With 10 minutes left of the game the score was 48-2 to Shimlas and Wits showed no signs of picking up the pace as runs and passes continued to be unsuccessful.

The atmosphere at the rugby stadium was palpable as students rallied behind the Wits team with spirited war cries and cheers. Wits first year residences arrived clad in their respective residence colours and sang through the entire match.

In the end, Wits was outplayed in their first match of the Varsity Cup by a technically superior Shimlas.

Published in Wits Vuvuzela 1st edition, 6th February 2013

Varsity Round-up 18 May 2012

Safety at University of Limpopo under scrutiny

A Star reporter showed up security on the University of Limpopo’s Turfloop campus on Friday May 11 by walking on to campus with a knife and a toy gun.

Moloko Moloto had a 36cm-long knife tied to his leg underneath his jeans, and a toy gun tucked in the back of his pants, and walked into campus unhindered.

Despite the fact that guns and knives are strictly prohibited on campus, Moloto was not searched. He claims that security guards “simply allowed strangers to walk in”.

Earlier this month, students allegedly killed campus thug Lekau Mamaboloon, and assaulted seven of his friends. Students assaulted the men as they reportedly attempted to rob the students. University management said the men were not students and had been on campus illegally.

Last month, a law student was stabbed to death just outside campus.

A shooting last year prompted the university to install metal detectors at the entrances to campus. However, they were removed a month later.

University spokesman Kgalema Mohuba said he did not know that the metal detectors had been removed, and blamed the external security company, Mafoko Security Services.

Mafoko Security Services declined comment.


UFS rector wants pass mark raised to 50%

University of the Free State rector Jonathan Jansen criticised the teaching standards in South Africa on May 10, saying pupils should be expected to receive 50% in order to pass.

Jansen was speaking at a meeting of Umalusi, the council that sets and supervises standards for general and further education and training.

He said universities could no longer accept the low standards set by the current education system. Post-apartheid education did not cater for the poor, rural child, he said, and many schools had untrained teachers and were exceptionally badly run.

Published in Vuvuzela print edition, 18 May 2102

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Varsity Round-up 21 April 2012

Varsity Round-up 29 March 2012


Varsity round-up

University of Pretoria

A Tuks medical student has been granted a court interdict against a fellow student, for sexual harassment.
The respondent reportedly said to the applicant, “I am going to sit behind you and follow you on campus and in your car… I love you, I am going to stalk you for the next three years… Man bitch! Fag! Weirdo! I’m going to bliksem you!”
The order prevents the respondent from making any contact with the applicant, physically, telephonically or electronically.

The 22-year-old student claims the respondent is hounding him with text messages and on Facebook despite having explicitly assured the respondent that he is not homosexual. The student attempted to block the respondent on the site but the respondent created false profiles to contact him, declaring his love for the medical student.
In the messages, the respondent reportedly begged to see the applicant naked, and “to kiss him and if he [the applicant] felt nothing, promised to leave him alone”.
In his statement, the applicant said, “The respondent is making it impossible for me to normally attend class. He is invading my personal space. He makes me feel unsafe and I desperately need the protection of the court.”
The respondent’s mother wrote a letter supporting the application for the court  order against her son. She expressed her “absolute regret” for the “fiasco” that her her son was responsible for.


University of Limpopo

A University of Limpopo student has been arrested for allegedly dumping her newborn baby in a toilet.
The dead infant was discovered in a pit toilet in the garden by the owner of the off-campus residence where the girl lived. It is unclear whether the baby was alive when the incident occurred.
The third year BA Administration student has been barred from her residence, but the university has said that they will support their student.
“While we regret the incident, we will give our student emotional support,” said Kgalema Mohuba, the university’s spokesperson.
The body was taken to government mortuary, where a post-mortem will be conducted to determine cause of death.


University of Zululand

Lectures at the University of Zululand were disrupted this week, following violence fuelled by a dispute between student political groups.
The dispute began last weekend at a student representative council (SRC) meeting held to brief students on the activities of the National Students Movement (Nasmo)-led council during its term of office. The conflict was reportedly between Nasmo, the South African Student Congress (Sasco) and the Young Communist League.
On March 25, six students were injured and a staff member was assaulted.
The violence continued into the evening of March 26, when another six students were injured when the  rioters  began throwing stones.
KZN police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said no investigation was under way. “Police will investigate when people come forward to open cases,” he said.
The provincial levels of the various student groups involved have condemned the violence.


University of the Free State

Approximately 10% of UFS students go without regular meals according to the NoStudentHungry campaign (NSH)  .
The campaign aims to raise money for a food bursary, which will be used to help students have healthy daily meals.
“These students do not ask [for] red meat; just something to be able to study,” Rector Jonathan Jansen said at the event.
Jansen has donated the royalties from his book, We need to talk, to the campaign, amounting to R100 000.
University spokesperson Lacea Loader said students who were awarded the NSH bursary were selected on the basis of financial need, academic performance, involvement in student programmes, and community engagement.


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