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Tense battle in Cape court as EFF faces off against Brackenfell High SGB

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Judge calls school governing body video evidence insensitive.

Brackenfell SGB representatives advocate Marius Verster and lawyer Christie Fourie. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA).

CAPE TOWN – Members of the Brackenfell High School governing body (SGB) will have to wait another two weeks to hear the Western Cape High Court’s verdict regarding their application for an interdict against the EFF.

Lawyers representing the two opposing parties squared up in court on Monday. Proceedings took a tense turn when Judge Siraj Desai grilled advocate Marius Verster, who represented Brackenfell High’s SGB, over video evidence he presented.

The advocate attempted to highlight how the EFF’s protest on November 20 failed to adhere to protest regulations and Covid-19 safety rules. But Desai found the video mocking and insensitive.

The judge said he was offended by the video in which the man filming could be heard saying in a mocking tone, “see how they run”, referring to footage of EFF members hastily trying to avoid being blasted with dyed water, tear gas and stun grenades.

Verster argued that while the EFF had not made public any plans to protest at the school again, the SGB did not want to take any chances, especially considering the EFF’s threat to occupy the school should their demands for the dismissal of educators implicated in the racial saga not be met.

The EFF’s lawyer, advocate Dali Mpofu, argued that the SGB’s interdict application was a knee-jerk reaction and an attempt to intimidate the party.

“The school should take measures, get transformation targets, diversity training.

“What people who are not victims of violence fail to understand is that racism is a form of violence, it’s like rape, violence is an inherent element of racism.

“In their affidavit, the SGB said that the attack on EFF members and violence by Brackenfell residents were disgraceful. However, the next day, they hurried to apply for an interdict against the EFF and not the perpetrators of the violence.

“If they felt that the attack on EFF members was disgraceful as they said in their statements, why did they not apply for an interdict against the perpetrators of the violent attacks, not against the victims?” he asked.

Advocate Dali Mpufo, who represented the EFF, leaves the Western Cape High Court to break for lunch. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

Mpofu added: “Their application should be dismissed and something, if not a recommendation, should be said about the SGB’s audacity to launch an interdict application in the first place.”

Verster responded that the application was the school’s effort to protect its learners and ensure their constitutional rights were not infringed upon.

“Our reaction and decision to file for an interdict was in response to the threat made by the EFF on November 20, 2020. During a speech by Marshall Dlamini they threatened to occupy the school should their demands not be met within seven days.

“They were demanding for educators who had been invited to the private event and attended in their personal capacity to be dismissed. Keeping in mind the nature of most EFF protests, we could not leave things to chance.

“Their threat to occupy the school remains and while all the other grades finish their school year on Friday, matrics will only be done on December 17. We have a duty to protect the learners in this instance, which is why we applied for the interdict.”

In closing remarks, Desai said that while the matter was sensitive it had also brought to light the inference of racism in schools.

Judgment will be delivered on December 22, 2020.

EFF Western Province chairperson Melikhaya Xego said the party would wait on the judgment. Brackenfell High SGB chairperson Guillaume Smith said they could not comment until all members have sat down and discussed court proceedings.

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