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EFF Members, Parents Clash Outside Brackenfell High School Amid Racial Tensions Over Alleged ‘Whites Only’ Matric Dance

NYAKALLO TEFU

“Wait until we respond, all fools will have an opinion,” EFF leader Julius Malema ominously tweeted on Monday night after his party’s protest outside Brackenfell High School turned violent when demonstrators clashed with a group of residents.

This comes after various videos posted online by reporters and residents showed fighting and chaos outside the school.

Public order police units tried to calm tensions in the area, firing stun grenades in an attempt to separate the groups.

At the weekend, EFF protested outside Brackenfell High School, which came under heavy criticism on social media after it emerged that white parents of students at the school allegedly hosted a high school matric dance without inviting black students.

A group of EFF supporters gathered outside the school and were met by a contingent of parents, armed security and police.

Veronica Mente, the Chairperson of the EFF in the Cape Town metro area, entered the school in order to talk to the principal of the school and has called for the firing of the two teachers who attended the event.

While the principal and Mente held their meeting, there were heated confrontations outside the school when EFF members started singing “Kill the Boer, kill the farmer” which is classed as hate speech in South Africa.

The EFF provincial leadership in the Western Cape said the party will immediately write to the Department of Basic Education to investigate racism at Brackenfell High School, according to EFF’s Western Cape’s Deputy Chairperson Nosipho Makamba-Botya.

“We received complaints from some parents of learners at the school about an organized matric dance which only included white students,” said Makamba-Botya.

According to various eye witness accounts, parents organized a matric dance, which is not allowed after the Western Cape Education Department announced that no matric dance or balls should take place at schools this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“The parents said they wanted us to intervene in the matter because they failed to understand why their children were excluded and so we went there on Friday first and to our surprise it was revealed that two other teachers from the school were involved in the event,” said Makamba-Botya.

Makamba-Botya said when they visited the school on Friday they were only allowed to speak to a school governing body’s chairperson because the principal was nowhere to be found.

“On Monday, we wanted to speak directly to the principal. However, we were received by a mob of white people carrying heavy guns with a lot of private security and the police who attacked us on our way there,” said Makamba-Botya.

Videos have surfaced on social media where parents and EFF members can be seen throwing punches at each other and running amok.

“Four of our fighters were injured during the clashes and on Friday. One of the EFF’s cars was damaged,” added Makamba-Botya.

Western Cape Education Department Minister Debbie Schäfer has condemned the chaos outside Brackenfell High School, saying the behaviour of the EFF and some parents was unacceptable.

“I strongly condemn both the actions of the EFF members and those parents outside the school, who used violence to address their concerns. Violent attacks are simply not acceptable and will in no way benefit our learners. Violence is also not the solution to solving disagreements,” said Schäfer.

The violent clashes come as learners are currently writing their exams and Schäfer said this will disturb the learners.

“Our learners are currently writing matric exams after a stressful and difficult year, and the EFF knows full well that this kind of confrontation will disrupt learning and cause unnecessary distress to our learners,” added Schäfer.

Schäfer has urged all parties to engage with one another in a responsible and adult manner and for SAPS to ensure that learners are protected from violence.

The EFF is calling for the suspension of the two teachers who attended the private matric dance party.

“We will write to the DBE to suspend the two teachers and the principal, we will also go back to the school,” added Makamba-Botya.

The South African Human Rights Commission spokesperson Gushwell Brooks the SAHRC condemned the scenes of violence that erupted outside of Brackenfell High School, in the Western Cape on Monday.

“We have seen on news media the eruption of a violent confrontation between people said to be parents of learners at the school and members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) outside the school premises. These unfortunate events follow reports that two teachers from the school attended a private matric function, which only included white learners and their parents,” said Brooks.

“The Commission is deeply disappointed by the violence as well as the allegations that preceded it. The SAHRC is shocked to learn that in this day and age a racially segregated private event was held for matric learners from the school. More disappointingly, is the fact that this event was attended by their parents and two teachers from the school.”

The commission said the alleged holding of a “whites only” event, if true, is also strongly condemned.

“No one should be allowed to bring back racial segregation to this country,” said Brooks.

“The deep racial divisions of South Africa’s apartheid and colonial past cannot be healed whilst children are socialised separately on the basis of race and thus, as a nation, we will never be able to forge a South Africa where all are equal, free and are treated with dignity.”

He added: “The conduct seen on television of one of the men repeatedly beating with a stick a Black woman in EFF uniform, is beyond shocking and we urge the police to trace the man and charge him, among others, with assault.”

(SOURCE: INSIDE EDUCATION)

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