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Violent clashes outside Brackenfell High 'unacceptable': education MEC

Parents of learners and community members from Brackenfell clash with EFF members at Brackenfell High School over alleged racism at the institution intensifies.
Parents of learners and community members from Brackenfell clash with EFF members at Brackenfell High School over alleged racism at the institution intensifies.

The violent brawl between residents, parents and EFF protesters outside Brackenfell High School in Cape Town was unacceptable, provincial education MEC Debbie Schäfer said on Monday.

Punches were thrown and rocks hurled after EFF supporters arrived outside the school to protest against a recent privately funded matric ball function attended only by white pupils.

The fracas, captured in numerous video clips, played out in full view of passing motorists and saw dozens of police in full riot gear being called in to halt the violence.

Image: Esa Alexander

Schäfer condemned the violence and urged the parties to settle their differences in a “responsible and adult manner”.

“I am deeply disturbed by the violent clashes that occurred outside Brackenfell High School this morning, over a private matric celebration organised by some parents of learners who attend the school,” she said in a statement.

“I strongly condemn both the actions of the EFF members and those parents outside the school, who used violence to address their concerns. Violent attacks are simply not acceptable and will in no way benefit our learners. Violence is also not the solution to solving disagreements.

Western Cape premier Alan Winde and education MEC Debbie Schäfer visited Brackenfell high school on November 10 2020 after protests outside the school premises led to violent confrontations a day earlier. A group of about fifty community members stood nearby the blocked road to the school. On November 9 2020, EFF members were protesting against alleged racism at the school when a violent confrontation ensued between them and a group of community members

“I urge all parties to engage with one another in a responsible and adult manner, and for Saps to ensure that our learners are protected from this kind of violence.”

Schäfer said pupils were writing matric exams after a stressful and difficult year, and the EFF knew this kind of confrontation would disrupt learning and distress pupils.

“Whatever one’s views may be, the fact is that the event in question was privately organised, at a private venue, by private individuals. The school had nothing to do with the organisation or management of that event. It was not supported, funded or endorsed by the school in any way.

“The school did not hold a matric ball this year owing to Covid-19 concerns.

Scenes from the clash earlier on Monday.
Scenes from the clash earlier on Monday.
Image: Esa Alexander/Sunday Times

“The [department] cannot and will not take action against educators who were invited as guests and attended a private event, which they did not organise, and had no prior knowledge of the attendees.

“We are also not in the business of prescribing who people must invite to private events outside school property,” she added.

There were growing calls on social media on Monday afternoon, purportedly by EFF supporters, to return to the school in numbers and continue the protest.

Police said they were monitoring the situation closely. At least one person was arrested.