DA defends Maritzburg College pupils: 'Political curiosity should be nurtured, not punished'

2017-10-16 17:20
Maritzburg College. (Supplied)

Maritzburg College. (Supplied)

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Pietermaritzburg - The DA in KwaZulu-Natal says pupils should not be punished for expressing their political views, adding that political curiosity at school level should be encouraged.

The party was reacting on Monday to the ongoing debate over the actions of three Maritzburg College pupils, who landed in hot water over a pro-EFF picture posted on social media.

The pupils were photographed in their school uniforms, holding T-shirts, bearing the words: "EFF our last hope of getting our land back".

The post went viral and landed the pupils in trouble.

However, the DA came out in defence of the pupil’s actions on Monday.

ALSO READ: Maritzburg College facing probe for alleged racism after EFF stir

"The reality is that we live in a world with high levels of political apathy among our youth and those who are excited by politics should have that nurtured, not be punished for it," KwaZulu-Natal MPL Mbali Ntuli said.

She added that stifling engagement in political thought at school level amounted to stifling "interaction with the world around us".

"In fact, political curiosity by students should be nurtured, not punished," she said.

Safety of pupils

Ntuli pointed out that the Constitution guaranteed all citizens the right to freely associate politically and to freely express political opinion.

Expressing political opinion, as a learner, could not be likened to violating section 33A of the South African Schools Act, which prohibits political activities during school time, she said.

The post has been the subject of a heated online discussion over racism and freedom of expression at the school.

The picture of the T-shirts displayed by pupils (Twitter)

While the three pupils were supposed to be subjected to disciplinary proceedings, the Department of Education has put the process on hold while it investigates allegations of widespread racism at the school.

READ: Maritzburg College facing probe for alleged racism after EFF stir

The DA said it would monitor the department’s findings and any further developments.

Meanwhile, the schools governing body chair Craig MacKenzie said parents would be meeting on Monday evening to discuss recommendations from the department.

Mackenzie said that the SGB had also taken several steps to ensure safety of pupils after being notified of possible disruptions at college “by outside parties”.

“While the school is operating normally today and we anticipate that it will be school as usual going forward, we have taken several steps to ensure the safety of our boys and staff.  To this end, access to the school grounds is being strictly controlled, and additional security and police personnel are on standby to assist with any such disruption, should it materialise.”

Read more on:    da  |  pietermaritzburg  |  politics  |  education

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