School exams vs economic freedom

2011-09-03 15:57

Learners from at least 29 Gauteng schools were put on buses or trains by the Congress of South African Students (Cosas) to protest against Julius Malema’s disciplinary hearing on Tuesday.

The hundreds of pupils were transported to Luthuli House in downtown Johannesburg for the first day of the hearing in the middle of preparations for matric trial examinations, which started on Friday.

The pupils spent the first day of Malema’s hearing at Beyers Naude Square near the ANC headquarters, and were part of violent clashes with police. They also pelted journalists with stones and bottles.

The pupils came from schools in Khutsong, Bekkersdal, Soweto and Katlehong.

Cosas Gauteng secretary Collen Malati, who had since been suspended, along with the entire provincial executive committee, said there was nothing wrong with pupils backing Malema.

“You can join the ANC Youth League at 14, when you’re in grade 8. We’re also members of the ANC Youth League and have the right to participate in the league,” said Malati, who claimed he was in grade 11 and 17 years old.

Malati said what was the point of Cosas members completing matric if they did not have the funds to go to university.

That’s why they supported the struggle for economic freedom, which includes nationalisation of mines.

At one school in Ekurhuleni, pupils who attended the Malema hearing told City Press that they were forced to get on a bus on Tuesday morning.

A caretaker at the school said there was chaos when the Cosas members arrived in a taxi.

Gauteng education department spokesperson Charles Phahlane said it was disturbing that learners were coerced into coming to the Johannesburg city centre.

Eddie Kekana, Gauteng chairperson of the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union, said the union was disturbed that the disruptions happened at a crucial time when pupils were supposed to be in class preparing for exams.

They were surprised, Kekana said, saying the union only knew about disruptions at high schools in Cosmo City and Meadowlands.

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