Anger over 'racist' hair rules for black pupils at Mpumalanga school


A copy of strict hair rules for black pupils - purported to have been issued by Hoërskool Delmas in Mpumalanga - has angered social media users.

The rules, which have been circulated widely on social media, restricts "African learners" from donning certain hairstyles, including Afros, dreadlocks and braids.

"Hair may not be 'stacked' on the head so high that the child behind you cannot see the board and your hairstyle does not entitle you to sit at the back of the class," the rules state.

'Braids, faux locs, yarn twists and high buns'

Other prohibited hairstyles include poetic justice braids, faux locs, yarn twists and high buns.

A person who claims to be a pupil at the school tweeted that the school had a photo album of hairstyles which black girls and boys are allowed to have.

The document refers to these photos, which are allegedly available for viewing in the classrooms of one Mr Stefan Joubert and Ms Wessels.

The school's website lists among its personnel Mr SG Joubert and Ms Ella Wessels.

An anonymous WhatsApp claims that, in October last year, African girls at the school were asked for their input about the "African Girls' Hairstyles Folder" which was "vital as the hairstyles have evolved from the early 2000s till 2019 and needs to be updated".

According to the message, the girls prepared a presentation in this regard. The message claims that official school rules were handed out on November 29 and "everything seemed normal".

It then claims that a new set of rules was issued on January 14 and that parents were "forced" to sign it off. These new rules included the hair restrictions, which were apparently adopted by the school's principal. 

However, the school has vehemently denied that the rules form part of its code of conduct.

"This is a huge mistake," principal Cas Badenhorst told News24. "We are in the process of correcting this. Those are not our rules that went out [on social media] - something is wrong here."

The principal also denied the contents of the WhatsApp message.

"I was not involved in any of this. I distance myself from that [document]."

Badenhorst said the school's code of conduct was in the process of being finalised and would be available by the end of the week.

The school governing body's (SGB) chairperson Riaan Grobbelaar told News24 that the rules were bogus and the SGB had never considered or approved it.

"The school allows for diversity and these matters are always discussed with parents and learners. We are sensitive to different cultural needs and practices. The document on social media is fake and not part of Hoërskool Delmas' code of conduct." 

Jasper Zwane, head of communications at the Mpumalanga Education Department, could not be reached for comment. 

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