South African school brawl over 'racism' condemned

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South African school brawl over 'racism' condemned

 

Violence outside a South African school between residents and activists of economic freedom fighters (EFF) for alleged racism could be used to "cause racial polarization", warned President Cyril Ramaphosa.

EFF said its members were attacked by "right-wing extremists" as they protested a white-only graduation party.

The Cape Town school said it had nothing to do with the event.

The rule of the white minority ended in South Africa in 1994.

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In a statement, Mr. Ramaphosa said "the sight of parents and protesters fighting at the school gate is deeply regrettable."

“What happened… brings back hurtful memories of a past that we should never seek to return to.

He called on all parties to exercise restraint and resolve tensions peacefully.

A legalized system of racial discrimination, known as apartheid, was abolished with the approach of the country's first democratic elections in 1994, when all racial groups voted.

Men fightingCOPYRIGHT OF IMAGEESA ALEXANDER
legendResidents and protesters started yelling at each other before violence broke out

Racist education policies within the system have become a rallying point for anti-apartheid activists.

On Monday, in response to the opposition party EFF's call for a protest at Brackenfell High, parents, residents and security guards gathered outside the school, the Cape Argus newspaper reported.

Photos and videos shared online showed EFF members being yelled at, then fighting broke out, which police struggled to contain.

A man was arrested for firing shots in the air.

Two people arguingCOPYRIGHT OF IMAGEESA ALEXANDER
legendPolice struggled to contain the situation

In a statement, EFF, which is the second largest opposition party in South Africa, said the protest was peaceful and that "armed right-wingers" attacked its members "in what was a demonstration of outright white arrogance ”.

"It should also be noted that since 1994 there has never been a single black teacher at Brackenfell High School, which reveals how deeply rooted racism in the school is at the institutional level," the party added.

A parent and former student were quoted by local media as saying the school was not racist and the protest was unwarranted.

Brackenfell High distanced itself from the private graduation party, which, according to EFF, only whites attended. Two teachers would also be present.

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'Do not bring back segregation'

“The masked ball… was a private party organized by the parents… and did not fall under the control of the school,” school authorities said in a letter to parents sent on Sunday.

They added that only 42 of the school's 254 graduate students were in attendance and that Brackenfell High "does not condone or host any event that is exclusive to certain groups."

The school also asked parents not to get involved in violence.

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Referring to reports that only whites were present at the party, the South African Commission on Human Rights, which is a statutory body, said "no one should be allowed to bring racial segregation back to this country ".

“The deep racial divisions of apartheid and South Africa's colonial past cannot be healed as long as children are separately socialized on the basis of race,” he added.

This article appeared first on: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-54887318

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