Lesufi must sober up - Cosas

2016-08-30 19:14
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi. Picture: Simone Kley

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi. Picture: Simone Kley

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Pretoria - The Congress of South African Students has expressed dissatisfaction with the 21 days given to the committee that is investigating racism allegations at Pretoria High School for Girls.

This was the time frame stipulated by Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.

"Yesterday (Monday) we were here with the MEC for education and we said to them that they must start dealing with this to ensure we have a response within 14 days. They decided to form a committee that is going to tackle this issue and all the complaints that have been filed by all the learners," provincial secretary Benedict Phalane said, adding they took issue with how long the committee had to investigate.

"We want relevant answers from the MEC. We are saying he must sober up, take sober decisions."

Phalane was speaking outside the high school where the organisation had led a group of learners from neighbouring schools in the city to protest and deliver a memorandum of demands. The small group of protesters blockaded the road in front of the school as they sang and danced.

The public school was facing learners' wrath after black girls were allegedly told to straighten their hair. According to the school's 36-page code of conduct, pupils can wear braids, cornrows or dreadlocks, but only if they are a maximum of 10mm in diameter.

All hair has to be brushed, neatly tied back, if long enough, and kept out of the face. No patterned cornrows are allowed. Longer braids have to be tied back. No decorations or beads are allowed in the hair.

Call for principal's removal

"Singles/braids must be the same length and be the natural colour of the girl's hair. Longer braids must be tied back." 

Nowhere does the code specifically forbid an afro hairstyle. The girls, however, claimed that school rules forbade African hairstyles such as afros, bantu knots, dreadlocks, and braids.

They alleged that they were not allowed to speak their mother tongue and that a teacher had called them monkeys when they sang and chanted in class.

Phalane said among their other demands for Lesufi was the removal of the principal.

"One of the things we want is that ... he must fire the principal, he must change the management of the school which is very white and does not include black people in it. This is a public school, a former Model C school which is still practising racism. Twenty two years after democracy in SA and we are still talking about racism instead of us focusing on how we implement issues of free education," he said.

Phalane added that the time had come for everyone to accept that the country has 11 official languages and they all have to be respected.

"We can't keep having people who don't want to accept that South Africa has 11 languages. It's either they vacate our school premises or they do what is right." 

Read more on:    cosas  |  panyaza lesufi  |  pretoria  |  racism  |  education

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