WATCH | Brackenfell High tense but EFF stays away after day of violence

Aron Hyman Reporter
A security guard outside Brackenfell High School in Cape Town the day after violent confrontations between EFF members and parents and members of the community.
A security guard outside Brackenfell High School in Cape Town the day after violent confrontations between EFF members and parents and members of the community.
Image: Esa Alexander

The peace outside Brackenfell High School on Tuesday was tenuous, held together by a heavy police and private security presence and an absence of EFF members.

In anticipation that a larger crowd of EFF members might arrive on Tuesday after clashes on Monday, parents and community members flocked to the school to "defend" their children, many of whom were writing exams.

EFF members arrived at the school on Monday following reports of a matric dance attended only by white pupils.

The school has 250 matric pupils, but only 78 - all white - attended the matric ball which organisers, the school, and the Western Cape education department claimed was a private event.

An organiser of the event told Sunday Times Daily last week that she blamed Covid-19 for the lack of diversity at the unofficial R500-a-head event, claiming there was room for only 100 pupils.

She claimed it was not meant to be exclusionary, but could not account for why there were no pupils of colour in attendance.

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Black parents and pupils said the party was a reflection of underlying racial tensions at the school. They said these surfaced earlier in the year during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, when current and former pupils made claims about racial discrimination on Instagram.

The school has only two teachers of colour, despite having become a dual medium school in 1994 with an ever-growing black and coloured student body.

Peace was held together by a heavy police and private security presence outside Brackenfell High on Tuesday.
Peace was held together by a heavy police and private security presence outside Brackenfell High on Tuesday.
Image: Esa Alexander

Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer spoke outside the school on Tuesday after a meeting with the principal, saying an investigation was being conducted into allegations of racial discrimination. She said a diversity committee had been established.

"I'm aware of an Instagram group which was started a while ago with the specific purpose of allowing people to express how they feel," said Schäfer.

"Out of that has apparently come a diversity committee from the school, which I am very pleased about.

"The school is expressing a lot of willingness to acknowledge that sometimes people may feel discriminated against, and that is not intended by them. To deal with those issues, parent meetings also going to be taking place to ensure those kinds of issues are addressed."

Western Cape premier Alan Winde said 'we need to keep politics away from this school right now and give the pupils every opportunity to complete the year'.
Western Cape premier Alan Winde said 'we need to keep politics away from this school right now and give the pupils every opportunity to complete the year'.
Image: Esa Alexander

Western Cape premier Alan Winde condemned the EFF for allegedly staging an illegal protest outside the school on Monday.

"We have to allow the pupils to complete the year, especially the matrics. They need to be able to do it safely," he said.

"These kinds of disruptions are not acceptable when matrics have had a really disruptive year as it is. Covid-19 has put so much pressure on everybody trying to finish their final exams.

"My message to the EFF is that you may not come and disrupt this community, you need to stay out. We need to keep politics away from this school right now and give the pupils every opportunity to complete the year."

On Monday, police arrested a man who allegedly attacked one of the EFF protesters.

Winde said officials were talking to the police to ensure more arrests take place after several people were caught on video involved in violent altercations.

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