Brackenfell High: Matrics wrote exam with no disruptions, says school's governing body

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  • Brackenfell High matric pupils completed the physical science exam without disruption.
  • The EFF, meanwhile, argue that their protest should not be limited to 100 people only, and are negotiating with police for more supporters to be let through.
  • Initial indications seems that police will now allow 500 members to march.

Brackenfell High matric pupils wrote their Physical Science paper without disruption on Friday, amid fears the final exam would be interrupted during a planned EFF protest.

LIVE | Brackenfell: Standoff between police, EFF protesters continues

"We had a very good exam with the matrics, who completed their exam in peace and quiet," Dr Guillaume Smit, chairperson of the School Governing Body (SGB) told News24. 

"So we are thankful for that." 

He said he was not sure why the EFF's sound truck moved from its position outside the school, but he was with education department officials ready to accept a memorandum should it be delivered.

"We are available, standing by actually when they inform us what the next steps will be." 

The tranquility of the street was in contrast to the hundreds of EFF supporters about a block away, in the sweltering heat.

READ | Brackenfell braces for protest as EFF says it has followed all processes

Stun grenades, a water cannon with dyed water, and teargas was released to keep the protesters away from the school.

Stun grenades were first released when a group attempted to head for the school while the exam was under way just before 10:30 on Friday. 

The EFF had a permit for a 100-person picket, but this was challenged on the day as hundreds of protesters arrived.

The party is currently in a standoff with police, with leaders negotiating on the number of people now allowed to be let through to hand over its memorandum.

At lunchtime, police over a loudhailer indicated that 500 members would now be able to march.

A Disaster Management Joint Operations mobile centre truck is parked outside the school, and the roads are cordoned off with barbed wire and a heavy police contingent. 

More stun grenades and teargas were fired around 12:30 and the group broke away from the human chain and started running for cover after a long wait in the sun. 

Women cried from fright and people were rubbing their eyes and screaming in rage. 

"What did we do?" they shouted. 

Residents of nearby flats threw bottles of water off their balconies to help the protesters get some relief from their stinging eyes, while a police helicopter circled.

A man lay collapsed under a tree with worried friends around him.

The EFF's spokesperson Vuyani Pambo pleaded with police to let the group through. 

Pambo told the media earlier on Friday that: "No one is going to stop us. We are going to go there nicely, peacefully. Anyone who comes at us we will go at them.

"It's a protest. Where have you seen where people are protesting they are being told 'no, only 100'. There's no such thing. It's a protest - let's get it right.

"As such, it cannot be regulated like a gathering of a party or people drinking.  No, it's a protest that comes from a grievance."

Smit said the pupils had gone home already. 

He stood by the school's stance that the party was not racially exclusive, after an audit of the initial proposed guest list. He said none of the school's official communication channels were used, such as the D6 school communicator app. Messages were sent by WhatsApp, and some people of colour had initially accepted, but then later declined. 

Smit said the school's diversity committee had already met and discussed programmes that will be held next year. He said the formal plans are not really possible at the moment as matric candidates focus on studying for exams.

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