Pretoria: The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training has condemned a reported racist attack on black students at the University of the Free State.
The committee said the recent incident demonstrates “the highest level of defiance to transformation and reconciliation”, which continues to threaten diversity and social cohesion in society.
“As a country, we come from a system that institutionalised racism, sexism, inequality and other forms of discrimination that were expected to fade away after the demise of the apartheid government. We will therefore never allow any space for such practices and tendencies to co-exist with our hard-earned democracy,” committee chairperson Advocate Ishmael Malale said.
Last week, Cobus Muller and Charl Blom were driving a bakkie on the university’s Bloemfontein campus and allegedly ran over Muzi Gwebu.
Later, the two allegedly confronted Gwebu and assaulted him.
On Thursday, the two students appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court, where the matter was postponed to April 9.
If found guilty in the criminal and institutional investigations, the university says the two students will not be allowed to study at the university.
Malale condemned the incident and applauded the university management for their swift and appropriate disciplinary action against the perpetrators.
“As the committee, we believe that tertiary institutions, like other public spaces, should be the safest places for citizens regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation to work, live or study, without fear.”
Meanwhile, North West Premier Thandi Modise has expressed shock at the alleged expression of Nazi salutes at the Potchefstroom campus of the North West University.
According to news reports, some students, during an initiation ceremony, allegedly performed, among others, the Nazi salute and related acts of Nazism.
“It is disturbing, because this incident demonstrates that segments of our young people are still vulnerable to ethnic and racial indoctrination. As South Africans, we have come a long way…” said the premier.
She added that institutions of higher learning should be repositories of learning, knowledge creation and expansive thinking.
“As a nation, we can ill-afford to be exposed to any sentiment which undermines the prescripts of our Constitution. We are equally encouraged by the swift condemnation of the incident by the management of the university, which has taken the public in their confidence in relation to the matter.”