Tensions started brewing at Hoërskool Overvaal in Vereeniging on Wednesday morning when a member of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – who were protesting outside of the school – allegedly punched a parent who was accompanying his daughter onto the school premises.
The man who was punched reportedly tried to stop a black parent from driving past the school as she was hooting and had her fist in the air in support of the EFF protest. He also allegedly gave the protesters the middle finger. After the assault, he was taken onto the school grounds for safety.
— Iavan Pijoos (@iavanpijoos) 17 January 2018
EFF and later-joining ANC members started burning tyres outside the school after the attack and police responded by firing rubber bullets and injuring protesters followed by the arrest of 10 protesters.
Last week, the Pretoria high court found the decision by the Gauteng department of education to admit 55 learners to be taught in English into the school which is an Afrikaans medium school to be unlawful.
The high court found in favour of the school’s argument that it does not have the capacity to admit the additional learners.
— Valerie Joy Robinson (@ValerieJoy_R) 17 January 2018
Racial tensions flared up after the ruling‚ with black parents shouting “away with racism” and threatening to burn the school down. Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi tried to calm tensions by saying the department would appeal the ruling and take it to the Constitutional Court if need be.
— eNCA (@eNCA) 15 January 2018
Kumbirai Toma, the lawyer for the Gauteng department of education, said the Hoërskool Overvaal’s school governing body (SGB) made it clear during a meeting that “the school was an Afrikaans school and that this will never change”.
Toma also asserted that the school has more than enough capacity to accommodate additional learners and that the department would ensure that all necessary measures would be put in place including getting furniture, study material and an English teacher for the 55 learners.
“The learners were refused entry to the school on the basis of language‚ contrary to requirements of admission process‚” he said.
— eNCA (@eNCA) 17 January 2018
EFF Sedibeng chairperson Azwi Tshitangano said that: “This is not a protest of the EFF‚ it’s a protest of the community and EFF is part of the community so we are parents in our own right. Today we are calling upon the MEC Panyaza Lesufi to say ‘You have failed us as well because if you didn’t fail us today‚ you would have been here to lead us inside so that our kids can gain access’.
Police formed a line in front of the school to stop protesters from coming close to parents who were dropping off their children at the school following the altercation in the morning.
At the end of the school day, pupils were escorted out of the premises using a different exit.