South Africa

Brackenfell High School matric event report a racist cover-up — ANC

Brackenfell High School matric event report a racist cover-up — ANC

Brackenfell High School matric event report a racist cover-up — ANC

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published 38m ago

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Cape Town – The ANC in the province has rejected the Western Cape Education Department's (WCED) report on Brackenfell High School's matric ball labelling it as "a racist cover-up".

ANC provincial spokesperson on education Khalid Sayed called for an independent investigation to be initiated, saying there were some serious procedural as well as substantive challenges with the report issued by the department.

Sayed said no learners were interviewed while all, except one parent, of those interviewed were white. As a result, they did not know as fact whether all learners were invited to the event or not.

This after the school was rocked by violent protests last year, with parents and political parties clashing amid allegations of racism. The WCED then investigated the matter, however, refused to publicly share the report claiming it contained “confidential or sensitive information” which made such a release inappropriate.

The ANC, EFF and other organisations said they would lodge a Promotion for Access to Information Act (PAIA) application in a bid to gain access to the report.

For more than a month after the PAIA application was allegedly made by some of the organisations, the WCED finally released the report to the ANC in the legislature.

"It is a whitewash and is nothing but a cover-up of the racism that exists at Brackenfell High School and the racist event that took place on October 17, 2020," said Sayed.

He said some of the substantive issues remained that teachers themselves involved in the planning of the event knew and had concerns that only white learners were present while the school insisted it was a private party and had its own investigation even though it gave no indication who shared the invitation and why they allowed it to be used on the school’s official medium.

Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said Sayed's statement goes far further than the subject matter of the report — which was simply the private matric function which was dealt with extensively last year.

Schäfer said the school has taken steps to address other concerns that were raised about the school during the course of that incident. "We have nothing further to add," she said.

EFF provincial chairperson Melikhaya Xego said they received the report, and their legal team was studying it. The Progressive Principals' Association (PPA) chairperson, Faiq Salie, also said they would read through the report and have a response as per the PPA's executive.

According to the report, signed by the WCED's chief education Specialist: districts, Redewan Larney, the investigation was conducted on November 11, 2020 at the school and interviews were conducted with the principal (Jannie Muller), four teachers (Ms Steyl, Ms Heyneke, Ms Smit and Mr Stoffberg) who all attended the masquerade ball.

"The organiser(s) of the event (were) Mrs Muller (no relation to the principal, a parent of a Grade 12 learner at the school) and the chairperson of the governing body, Mr Smit.

The report pointed out that the school had 261 matric learners (177 white, 52 coloured and 32 black African). However, it alleged that the school officially cancelled the 2020 matric ball on September 11, 2020.

Upon interviewing the event organiser, she highlighted that the event was organised for her daughter, in Grade 12A1 and her friends when the matric ball was cancelled. She felt she needed to arrange a function as her daughter would be going overseas after matriculating at the end of the year.

"There were 72 learners in total that attended the event, and 42 of the learners who attended the event were from Brackenfell High School. The other learners were friends with her daughter, who attended other schools who were invited via Mrs Muller’s Facebook page."

The report recommended that the district put initiatives in place to assist the newly established diversity committee of the school, and to facilitate a series of diversity workshops, facilitated by the Institute of Justice and Reconciliation soonest and expose all the staff of the school to the programme.

Cape Argus

Original Article

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