EFF in Brackenfell: here's how we got here

20 November 2020 - 07:00
By cebelihle bhengu AND Cebelihle Bhengu
A violent confrontation erupted between EFF supporters and parents and residents outside Brackenfell High School in Cape Town on Monday last week.
Image: Esa Alexander A violent confrontation erupted between EFF supporters and parents and residents outside Brackenfell High School in Cape Town on Monday last week.

The red berets are expected to descend on Brackenfell High School in the Western Cape again on Friday to protest against alleged racism at the school.

EFF leader Julius Malema announced on Monday that the party would continue demonstrations after a violent confrontation between community members and protesters last week.

Brackenfell High School has had the attention of many South Africans in the past two weeks after it was reported that a group of parents held a private, unofficial matric ball which was only attended by white pupils. 

Here's the rundown of how EFF vs Brackenfell High School unfolded:

November 5: An all-white matric ball

Earlier this month, Sunday Times Daily reported that racial tensions had broken out at the Cape Town school over a “matric ball” held in October. Two teachers also attended the event, which created an impression that the school was involved in its organisation.

The provincial education department told TimesLIVE that the school should not be held responsible for the event, as it had been organised by parents. The school had cancelled its official matric ball because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

November 9: Violence erupts during protest

An EFF protest at the school over the reports turned violent, after the “ground forces” were confronted by angry parents and residents. A TimesLIVE report shows angry community members telling protesters “we're not scared of you, come here”. 

November 9: SA Human Rights Commission condemns violence, wants racism allegations probed

The commission said it was disappointed by the violence and allegations of racism at the school. It said it was more disappointing that two teachers and parents attended the event, and called for an investigation into the matter.

“The alleged holding of a 'whites only' event, if true, is also strongly condemned. No-one should be allowed to bring back racial segregation to this country. The deep racial divisions of SA’s apartheid and colonial past cannot be healed while children are socialised separately on the basis of race and thus, as a nation, we will never be able to forge a SA where all are equal, free and are treated with dignity.”

November 11: EFF defends its actions 

The red berets defended their demonstration after the DA claimed the EFF had protested illegally outside the school, and likened the party to the Nazis.

“The Nazis had the brown shirts that went around terrorising minorities. SA has the red shirts,” said the DA.

The EFF hit back at the comparison.

“In the DA's desperation for relevance and a desire to capture its lost white voter base, they cheapen the memory of Kristallnacht and the painful memory of the Holocaust. The DA does this to stoke swart gevaar (black danger) and to paint black people as a threat. It is an illogical comparison that spits on the memory of one of humanity's most painful eras,” it said in a statement.

November 17: MEC calls for calm

Western Cape provincial education MEC Debbie Schäfer said on Tuesday that arrangements were in place to ensure that matrics writing their final exams would not be disrupted by the protests.

She added that the protests were a clear attempt to intimidate the school but called on residents and parents not to worsen the situation by attempting to confront the protesters.

“I call on Brackenfell residents not to gather at the school with a view to engaging in altercations. Any action that would escalate tensions further will make it harder for law-enforcement authorities to do their jobs. Please do not take the law into your own hands.”

November 18: PAC protests at Brackenfell

The Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) marched to the school on Wednesday but were met with police who dispersed the crowds with stun grenades..

EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi criticised police action, saying it signified their “contempt for black lives”. 

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