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Johannesburg - The university at the centre of a potential compensation lawsuit involving millions of rand plans to oppose claims made by two of its former students, saying they are without merit.

AfriForum Youth, speaking on behalf of Cobus Muller and Charl Blom, two former University of the Free State students, said on Friday that they were seeking R6.15 million for defamation after being labelled “criminals” following an allegedly racial attack on the campus last year.

The pair almost ran into black fellow student Muzi Gwebu with a bakkie as he was walking on campus, then alighted and allegedly assaulted him. Gwebu was taken to hospital by campus security guards.

Muller faced charges of reckless driving, crimen injuria, attempted murder and assault, while Blom faced a charge of assault. They were acquitted by the Bloemfontein Regional Court.

The SA Human Rights Commission failed to find that the incident had been racially motivated.

It has instructed the AfriForum Youth legal team to seek compensation. The case centres on alleged defamation and procedural injustice.

“On the advice of legal counsel, the university plans to vigorously oppose the claims of the former students,” said UFS communication and brand management director, Lacea Loader.

“When all the evidence is made public, the university believes that those claims will be found to be without merit.”

AfriForum Youth national chairman Henk Maree said the organisation wanted to make an example of the university.

“The message we want to convey on behalf of the two young men is that no one is untouchable.

“Too many student leaders and persons in positions of authority think they can say and do what they want, without consequences.”

Saturday Star