Violence breaks out at Brackenfell school

Police arrested a 39-year-old Brackenfell man for public violence at the protest

A 39-year-old Brackenfell man was arrested for public violence after a protest between the EFF and parents of Brackenfell High School pupils turned violent, on Monday.

Provincial police spokeswoman Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said the man had been arrested after firing three shots into the air.

The first protest, held on Friday, followed allegations that some parents had organised an unofficial, whites-only matric farewell for pupils and their partners.

Two teachers had allegedly attended the gathering, and the EFF called for them to be suspended.

However, on Monday things got heated when members of the EFF stood at the school gate in Paradys Street and a group of residents and parents approached them.

A member of the public shouted and asked why the EFF was in the vicinity before pulling off an EFF member’s beret. Then fists began flying.

The EFF supporters threw rocks, and police fired stun grenades to disperse the crowd.

EFF provincial chairman Meliahaya Xego said 10 black pupils had contacted the political party to report continuous racism and discrimination at the school.

“The school did not deny these claims,” he said.

The EFF would continue to protest until the two teachers were suspended, he said.

The EFF had had no intention of using violence, but members had been attacked by “white-racist people”, Mr Xego said.

“Racism is the worst in the Western Cape, and the EFF will not tolerate it. We were attacked by the whites because we want equality.”

He claimed a black teacher had not been employed at the school since 1994.

Western Cape Education Department spokeswoman Bronagh Hammond said the school had nothing to do with the “private” event.

“The two teachers were invited as guests to the party and the WCED cannot take action on teachers who attended an event in their private time,” she said.

Brackenfell High School would not be hosting a matric ball this year because of Covid-19, she said.

Ms Hammond said there were two coloured and 40 white teachers at the school.

“One coloured teacher is employed by the WCED and the other is paid by a school governing body post. The WCED has no previous complaints regarding alleged discrimination at the school” she said.

Brackenfell High School principal Jannie Muller, in a letter, said the function had been held at a private venue and had not been funded by the school.

The Brackenfell Community Police Forum urged the community not to “escalate the already volatile situation” but consider the matrics who were writing their final exams at the school and at surrounding schools.

Johan Marx, managing director of a private security firm, said he had 20 guards voluntarily helping to protect pupils writing finals.

“We are patrolling this area for the next few days to protect the kids and those coming to neighboring schools,” he said.