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Racist fights rock school again

By Katlego Moeng and Sapa | 2010-09-21 07:05:14.0

WHITE zones mean danger to black pupils at the infamously racist Hoër Volkskool in Heidelberg.

"Not a month goes by without a fight between a white and black pupil or group of pupils," a Grade 11 girl said.

Another Grade 11 pupil said: "There are white zones at the school and crossing them as a darkie is the reason why some of the fights break out. Some pupils have been hit with stones for trespassing."

Early this month a Grade 8 pupil was badly beaten by a white Grade 11 pupil as he made his way to the toilet. This was after he protested that the same senior had roughly shoved him.

"He said 'shut up kaffir' and I told him not to refer to me as a kaffir," said the victim. "That was when he started beating me. He hit me in the face, especially on my left eye, repeatedly.

"One of the grounds staff tried to stop him but he pushed him away until he was satisfied that he was done with me."

But according to Charl van Niekerk, chairperson of the school governing body (SGB), only seven of the 23 assaults at the school were a result of racial bullying.

The SGB said it would be implementing an anti-racial bullying strategy at the school "in due haste".

"Since 2009 six cases of assault were reported to the police... but only two can be classified as racial bullying," Van Niekerk said.

Sowetan spoke to other pupils who said that this was a normal occurrence at Volkskool.

"Usually it is the Grade 8 and 9 pupils who get victimised. Some white seniors feel they are the ones who are messing the school up. This is because most black pupils are concentrated in these grades and mostly attend lessons in English," a white pupil said.

But his peers denied that any racial tensions exited.

"Boys are boys and they sometimes fight," said a senior white pupil. "Seniors will always pick on juniors at school."

Other black pupils, including some of the Grade 8 victim's friends, also said that they did not experience any racism and did not know if it truly existed at Volkskool.

The school has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. It hired a principal, Theuns Botha, who was accused of raping a minor in 1985. He was accused by another minor of rape in 1991. It was during Botha's time that most of the shocking racial incidents took place at the school.

Gauteng education spokesperson Charles Phahlane said: "We are concerned about the recent incidents of a racial and neo-Nazi nature and we have briefed attorneys to advise us in doing so all options will be explored, including those of criminal prosecution.

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