Hair protest at school ‘leads to vic­tim­i­sa­tion’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

PRE­TO­RIA — It was not busi­ness as usual at the Pre­to­ria High School for Girls this week af­ter pupils protested against dis­crim­i­na­tion, the school’s ban on Afros and speak­ing home lan­guages the week be­fore.

On Mon­day, Gaut­eng ed­u­ca­tion MEC Panyaza Le­sufi is­sued in­struc­tions for classes to re­sume, and for the school gov­ern­ing body to is­sue an apol­ogy to par­ents and chil­dren for the heavy-handed man­ner in which the protest had been dealt with. He also in­structed that no girls who had protested should be vic­timised.

But on Tues­day, more than 10 black pupils at the school, who had taken part in the protest, told City Press that some of them had sub­se­quently been abused by class­mates on so­cial me­dia and that their classes were near empty.

“Some of the white girls in the hos­tel were told to leave be­cause . . . it’s not safe for them to be there,” said one protest­ing stu­dent.

A par­ent of one of the protesters, who asked only to be iden­ti­fied as Busi to pro­tect her child, said she was out­side when a teacher from the school’s North Lodge hos­tel ush­ered a few white girls, who were out­side, into the build­ing.

“I asked her why only white par­ents were tak­ing their chil­dren away and she said be­cause those par­ents were afraid. I asked: ‘Who are they afraid of? These kids play to­gether!’”Her daugh­ter, she said, had been branded a “trou­ble­maker” by staff. The school did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment. The protest­ing school­girls, who now re­fer to them­selves as the Black Magic Move­ment, told City Press that they de­cided to protest last Fri­day by wear­ing black cloth­ing and doeks, be­cause they had ex­hausted all chan­nels and had been “con­sis­tently shut down and ig­nored”.

“The day of peace­ful demon­stra­tion was re­sponded to by us be­ing pulled out of as­sem­bly; us be­ing told not to con­gre­gate in groups, as we were sup­pos­edly ‘con­spir­ing’. This in­sin­u­ates that we were be­ing ma­li­cious and po­ten­tially in­cit­ing vi­o­lence, so much so that the school saw it nec­es­sary to have armed pri­vate se­cu­rity guards, with dogs, brought to school,” they wrote in a state­ment.

Busi, how­ever, said she was yet to re­ceive an apol­ogy, and was wor­ried about her child be­ing vic­timised at school. She also didn’t trust school man­age­ment or the school’s gov­ern­ing body, which had called in the se­cu­rity guards. “In a video, the head of the gov­ern­ing body is telling kids they will be ar­rested,” she said. — Sapa

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