Statement by Education MEC Debbie Schafer:
Following on their protest at Brackenfell High School last Monday, 9 November 2020, which resulted in violent altercations outside the school, the EFF has been granted permission by the City of Cape Town for 100 members to protest again outside Brackenfell High School from midday on Friday.
This is clearly an attempt to intimidate the school, and is infringing on the rights of the learners who are writing exams, especially our matrics. Our learners have been subjected to unprecedented events this year and anxiety and stress levels are high. This behaviour is going to add to that pressure.
Whilst the EFF is entitled to protest if they have a valid permit, they are obliged to do so responsibly. We thus expect that they will:
1. Do so peacefully.
2. Remain off school grounds, as protesting on school property is prohibited by the South African Schools Act.
3. Ensure that the Covid-19 golden rules are observed, including physical distancing and the wearing of masks.
If they do not, we expect SAPS to make arrests immediately.
We are in contact with the school, SAPS and the city’s law enforcement services to ensure that order is maintained and our learners and staff are safe. There is also private security to ensure that no harm comes to the school or its learners.
Arrangements have been made to ensure that the matrics writing Physical Sciences (Physics) Paper 1 on Friday morning can do so without disruption. All Grade 8 to 11 exams will be rescheduled, but the school will remain open and classes for learners will continue.
I call on Brackenfell residents not to gather at the school with a view to engaging in altercations. Any action that would escalate tensions further will make it harder for law enforcement authorities to do their jobs. Please do not take the law into your own hands.
It is important that legitimate concerns of people at the school, particularly people of colour, are addressed. The school has committed to doing so, long before this recent incident. They have already put in place processes earlier this year to ensure that the school is more inclusive, as set out in their statement last week. This will be a process and the EFF cannot conduct ongoing protests because their demands are not being met.
I have scheduled a meeting with the EFF provincial representatives on Thursday to discuss their concerns regarding the school, in an attempt to try and reach a suitable understanding on the way forward.
Let us all think of our children who have a constitutional right to a basic education. Their welfare should be foremost in our minds.