UFS’s debate on criminalising initiation practices

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SELLWANE KHAKHAU

The University of the Free State’s Professor Leon Wessels says initiation practices at educational institutions, including the UFS, undermine the country’s constitutional values.

Wessels expressed this notion in a panel discussion held at the UFS on Wednesday, June 3rd.

The discussion was held with the aim of highlighting the impact that initiation practices have on junior students across the country. The panel was also debating the idea of criminalising the practices.

Professor Leon Wessels said:

“Criminalisation has been done abroad, but I don’t think it will cure the problem here. We have to understand what the constitutional values are and instil those values in the institutions when we support newcomers.”

He added that South African institutions still have a long way to go in addressing this particular issue.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done, but at least we are having these discussions now, and this is something positive,” he said.
The panel consisted of five people who shared different views about the issue," he said.

Some of the panel thought that it should be criminalised, while others said it shouldn’t.

The panel shared their personal views based on their own experiences of initiation practices at educational institutions.

In addition, Christopher Rawson, a final year Law student at the university who was also part of the panel, argued that the current legislations on initiation practices at higher educational institutions are not enough to protect those who are being forced to take part.

More information will be given in next week’s issue of Bloemfontein Courant (11 June).


(Left-Right) Prof. Leon Wessels, Advocate Inez Bezuidenhout, Christopher Rawson (final year Law student at the university), Dr Lynette Jacobs, and Prof. Lood Pretorius.