Vice-Chancellor and Rector at the University of the Free State, Prof. Francis Petersen said: “We are not going to deal with transformation being so emotional. I am going to do that and I am going to ask you to ask you to do the same”. Speaking to a group of about 200 students at the Albert Wessels Auditorium in Bloemfontein, Petersen asked that proper procedures should be followed with regards to the President Steyn statue, which students allege perpetuates the legacy of Apartheid.
Students have been calling for the removal of this statue since 2015, however Petersen says there are many views on this issue and they should all be heard and taken into account before the university takes any definitive action.
Student Representative Council (SRC) leader, Asive Dlanjwa, however, disagrees. He said that engagements on the matter have been ongoing since April 2015 and the matter had reached a point where it could not be delayed any further. Dlanjwa further expressed the view of the SRC, saying it requests that this matter be dealt with separately. He called for a consultative processes on the matter to begin on 15 March 2018.
And in the meantime one student suggested that until then, a black plastic cover be placed over the statue until such time that it is removed. Other students have called for the statue to be removed by May this year, however, Dlanjwa said by that time, there should already have been enough engagements between the university’s management and the SRC on the matter of the statue removal.
The situation on campus remains calm and academic activities are going on as normal.