Pretoria – The EFF on Monday expressed support for the pupils protesting against alleged racism at Pretoria Girls High School.
"It is deeply saddening that 22 years into democracy, there are still institutions of any kind that seek to directly suppress blackness in its aesthetics and culture," EFF acting national spokesperson Fana Mokoena said in a statement.
"This is a direct result of a society still struggling with transformation and failing to address white hegemony," he said.
Some girls alleged they had been subjected to racism and were being discouraged from keeping their hair natural. They staged a protest at the school over the weekend.
Pupils claimed hairstyles such as braids, afros, and dreadlocks were against the school's rules.
According to the school’s code of conduct: "Cornrows, natural dreadlocks and singles/braids (with or without extensions) are allowed, provided they are a maximum of 10mm in diameter. Singles/braids must be the same length and the natural colour of the girl’s hair."
Longer braids had to be tied back. No patterned cornrows were allowed.
The Citizen reported that a petition was circulated, that had garnered 4 201 signatures by early Monday morning. In it the school is accused of forcing black girls to straighten their natural hair and claiming they’re "conspiring" when standing in groups.
Mokoena said a white minority culture was still dictating to a black majority what they should look like and how they should behave.
"This culture is as old as slavery itself and does not belong in a democratic dispensation such as ours."
Mokoena said the ANC Women’s League was silent on the struggle of the young black women at Pretoria Girls High School.
"Racism cannot be eradicated if we are not brave enough to do and say the hard things and honestly bare it open for scrutiny. The ANC and its Women’s League has failed to lead our battles in general, and of women in particular," he said.
The EFF said policies against natural hair were inherently racist and had to be rejected.
"People’s natural looks or how they choose to adorn themselves are a right we must protect jealously," the EFF said.
He said the young protesters had given the country hope that the dreams of a fearless society led by brave women and men were alive.
"We applaud the gallant forces of the young black women at Pretoria Girls High who have taken their struggle into their own hands and shown our government what leadership really is."