Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said the invitation for a matric event, which she has seen, has no reference to the school.
CAPE TOWN – There is no evidence that people were excluded based on their race, revealed Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer, after she received a report into a function linked to Brackenfell High School which was accused of being racist.
According to the report commissioned by Schäfer, the matric function was private event organised by parents of learners, “who were disappointed that the formal school farewell had been cancelled”.
The MEC announced that she had requested a report when she visited the school in November with Premier Alan Winde after a violent clash between EFF members and residents ensued near the high school.
The EFF had been protesting against alleged racism at the school, after reports of a whites-only Masquerade Ball.
EFF members were assaulted by parents and security guards outside the school.
On Monday, Schäfer said she had received the report from the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) following the furore that erupted regarding the event.
“On September 11, the school sent a letter to parents, advising them that the school’s matric farewell had been cancelled, because of an instruction from the education department.
“Subsequently, a parent of one of the learners then decided to arrange a function for her daughter and some of her friends, as she wanted to do something special for her following the cancellation of the school’s farewell.”
The report revealed that the event was arranged at a wine farm on October 17, and tickets cost R500 each. Schäfer said the invitation had no reference to the school.
“It specified that it was limited to 100 people, after the venue advised that they could increase the number of attendees from 50 to 100 as a result of the relaxation of Covid-19 regulations,” Schäfer said.
According to the report, the invitation was widely circulated via WhatsApp groups, as the parent asked class representatives to do.
“The invitation was also posted on the parent organiser’s Facebook page, so was open to people outside Brackenfell High as well. As a result, there were 42 learners from Brackenfell High School and 30 from other surrounding schools who attended.
“A separate WhatsApp group was started for those who had replied that they wished to attend. This would explain the allegations of some who claim to have been excluded from a WhatsApp group,” Schäfer said.
“Allegations were also made publicly that the head girl did not attend ’because no learners of colour were attending’. According to the report, both the head girl and head boy were invited, but did not attend as they had other plans on that day and were organising their own farewell functions.
“Four teachers were invited in their personal capacities, as they had close personal links to the organising parent. The school was aware that the event was happening, but the school and the organisers regarded it as a private event. It was thus not necessary to seek approval of the principal or the SGB,” the MEC said.
The report explained that supervision at the event was strictly maintained by parents only, and the MEC said from the those details it was clear that it was a private event.
Schäfer added that a media service provider, who is also used by the school, was asked to take photos at the event, and had uploaded images from the event on the school’s website in error. After objections were raised by other parents, the photos were removed.
“The evidence is thus that invitations were circulated to all matric classes. There is no evidence that people were excluded based on their race.
“There are also no grounds to take action against teachers who attended the private event.”
The MEC said that the WCED remained committed to inclusivity.
“We are also concerned, though, that people use events to mobilise racial tensions without ascertaining the facts. This is a dangerous practice that is more likely to exacerbate racial tensions than break down barriers.”