Cape Times

Protest chaos at Overvaal school

- African News Agency

‘Let’s not do things that will embarrass our struggle for a better society’

POLICE fired rubber bullets at protesters outside Hoërskool Overvaal in Vereenigin­g, Gauteng, where 55 Englishspe­aking children were turned away.

The first day of school was chaotic as protesters were hit by rubber bullets. Ambulances arrived outside the school to pick up bleeding protesters.

EFF and ANC supporters had converged on the school in the morning to demand that the “excluded” children be enrolled regardless of the language they speak.

The high court in Pretoria ruled in the school’s favour, preventing the Gauteng Department of Education from compelling it to enrol the English-speaking children.

Earlier in the morning, a parent was assaulted, allegedly by protesters as he arrived at the school, in full view of the police.

Meanwhile, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said all 55 children had now been accommodat­ed at a nearby school.

On Monday, Lesufi said his department intended to appeal the judgment made by Judge Bill Prinsloo that 55 English-speaking learners could not be admitted to Hoërskool Overvaal due to capacity constraint­s.

“Let the Constituti­onal Court legalise racism, let the Constituti­onal Court say you are wrong in requesting our children just to study, sing and dance together. We are not asking for anything, we are saying let our children sing, dance and study together. If that is unlawful, let someone come and tell us why,” Lesufi said.

The parents of the 55 children had threatened to shut it down.

“Away with racism, away. No school on Wednesday. Down with racism, down. We are tired of the agenda of white people,” they shouted in the high court sitting in Pretoria.

Later, Lesufi told the visibly upset parents that there was no need to be violent and assured them that, one day, their children would attend the school.

“I know we are emotionall­y hurt all of us, I know that this is a major setback for our transforma­tion agenda, it’s a major setback for our struggle for a non-racial society, but as I said, ours is not for revenge, ours is for equality.

“I’m pleading with you, let’s not do things that will embarrass our struggle for a better society,” Lesufi said to the sound of whistles and a clapping of hands from parents.

Warner Human, one of the legal representa­tives of the school, insisted that the school was not racist, but said the department had not followed the right procedure.

“As you have seen in what has been shown by the judge, was that the school had on its side made earnest attempts to show that there is no physical capacity. There is a material shortcomin­g on the side of the department,” he said.

He emphasised that the school doesn’t promote racism.

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