Hoërskool Overvaal’s legal victory in keeping out 55 Grade 8 English learners from the Afrikaans school in Vereeniging whipped up racial tensions in court on Monday‚ with black parents shouting “away with racism” after the ruling.
The angry black parents‚ in matching white tops‚ shouted in the direction of the white school governing body that they would burn or shut down the school on Wednesday.
The scathing judgment also did not go down well with Gauteng education MEC‚ Panyaza Lesufi‚ who openly labelled the school racist when he addressed the disgruntled parents in the gallery of courtroom 6E.
In the two-hour judgment‚ Judge Bill Prinsloo‚ found that the department had acted unlawfully and set aside the instruction by the department’s Sedibeng east district director that the school admit the 55 English learners.
“We must not allow those who hate our children to celebrate. This country belongs to all our children…we might be down today but we are definitely not out…we might not agree‚ but one thing for sure there is no racist that can hide behind a broom stick‚ there is no racist that will use language to deny our children access to education‚” Lesufi said.
He vowed to appeal the ruling‚ even if it meant taking the matter to the Constitutional Court.
“Let the Constitutional Court legalise racism‚ let the Constitutional Court say you are wrong in requesting our children just to study‚ sing and dance together‚” Lesufi told the parents.
He said anyway the current SGB’s term comes to an end in March‚ saying this was not over.
Lesufi said the judgment was a major setback for transformation and the struggle for a non-racial society. The school’s attorney‚ Werner Human‚ said it was unfortunate that a factual issue of lack of capacity to take more learners was turned into a racial matter.
He said the school had demonstrated throughout the case that it had no capacity to admit the 55 learners but the narrative had always been about race.
“The race has been brought by the department‚ by the MEC‚ they have not one racist incident they can show but this narrative has been played‚” he said.
Human said they took the threats of violence very seriously‚ saying they might have to take necessary security measures to protect the school and the learners on the first day of school on Wednesday.
“We do take them very seriously but we stress‚ in the way of confrontation‚ no one wins. We may have to make necessary arrangements if there is going to be some sort of engagement or confrontation but it must be stressed that the school won’t be anticipating one. It is unfortunate but‚ if we have no choice‚ we would have to try and protect the school and its learners on the first day‚” he said.