Home South African SAHRC clears Brackenfell High School of ’whites only’ matric event

SAHRC clears Brackenfell High School of ’whites only’ matric event


Brackenfell High School said it chose not to comment on the outcome.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has cleared Brackenfell High School of alleged racism. Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA)

Brackenfell High School said it chose not to comment on the outcome.

CAPE TOWN – The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) wants those aggrieved by its findings that the Brackenfell High School was not involved in what was termed a “whites only” matric event two years ago to challenge its decision in court.

An application for judicial review must be made within 180 days of the date on which all internal remedies were exhausted.

SAHRC Education Commissioner Andre Gaum found the organisers of the event did not directly or indirectly discriminate against Grade 12 pupils on the grounds of race and there was no need to determine fairness.

“While the Commission found, through its investigation, that some of the school’s officials knew about the event, as details were shared by parents/guardians and learners of the school on WhatsApp, Facebook and by word of mouth; and four teachers had been invited in their private capacity, the evidence before the Commission exonerates the school from the planning, funding, advertising or hosting the event,” he said.

Gaum found that the school did not host a “whites only matric ball”. He said there was also misinformation on social media platforms and ill-founded allegations in mainstream media reports that led to protest action that turned violent and invoked hate speech outside the school.

“The parent who posted the allegations about the event on Facebook and media outlets will equally be contacted and advised by the commission regarding the consequences of their actions in this regard.”

He said during the investigation, allegations of broader experiences of racism experienced by black pupils, both current and former, were received from certain witnesses and these did not relate to the event which was the subject of the probe.

“The Commission will commence its investigation into these allegations by requesting written submissions from pupils, parents, the school, the SGB and any other person that would like to bring complaints or information before the Commission

“In respect of allegations of hate speech related to the protest action, the Commission has begun its investigations in this regard and has sent out correspondence in the form of allegation letters to the persons and/or entities alleged to have committed hate speech in terms of the Equality Act,” said Gaum.

Brackenfell High School said it chose not to comment on the outcome. Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said: “I welcome the confirmation of our investigation, and hope that this serves as a warning to parties like the EFF, who jump to conclusions of racism without establishing the facts, and which drive wedges between people instead of bringing them together.”

Western Cape EFF chairperson Melikhaya Xego expressed shock at the length of time it took the commission to release its findings.

“What they did was to wait for the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) to release their report, then copy and paste the contents of that report and when no one was paying attention, release it. This is a lazy job coming from the commission. It claimed that this was a private event and that the school was not involved and therefore no permission was required from the school or the SGB to organise the so-called private event.

“However, the organisers of the event used class representatives from the school, Whatsapp groups used by the school for school purposes, and they also used some teachers as well as the principal himself to confirm that certain learners did receive the invitation. All this process of organising this event involved the school and its human resources,” said Xego.

He accused the commission of failing to address any violation of rights of black people, particularly in the Western Cape.

“We are gradually losing hope and confidence in that spineless institution failing to address any form of racism and other atrocities of discrimination in this racist province.”

ANC Education spokesperson Khalid Sayed said they were baffled by the time it took the commission to conclude the investigation and only release findings two years later.

Cape Times

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