Clashes ensued between the South African Police and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party at Brackenfell High School in Cape Town, on Friday, November 20, 2020. Police fired water cannons and tear gas canisters at the crowd of protestors during the second staged demonstration.
Reason for the Clash with South African Police
Demonstrators accused Brackenfell High School establishment of discriminating against black students. The school allegedly held a graduation event in October where only white teachers and students attended. The school has since refuted the claims saying that the event was private. However, black students in the school said they were discriminated and none of them was invited to the function.
Protestors have also accused the police of being racists. They claimed the police used too much force on them and wouldn’t respond in the same manner if it were white protestors.
Racism in South Africa
Speaking to Al Jazeera, the Southern Africa Director at Human Rights Watch, Dewa Mavinga, said that South Africa remains “a deeply divided society.”
“What happened was that minority white rule ended in 1994, but the healing process is far from being complete. So, there is a need for the authorities to continue to do more. And also, in schools or private spaces in the public, there is a need for more action to ensure integration and healing so that we address these deep-seated race divisions and also elements of xenophobia that have not been addressed to this day,” remarked Dewa Mavinga.
He added that “The South African authorities should prioritize race issues and addressing that, and ensuring that no one is left behind or that they do not ignore the rights of the minority group, including the white minority, now that there is a black government.”
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Party
EFF party has, in the recent past, been proactive on matters of racism in South Africa. Founded and headed by expelled former African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) president, Julius Malema, the party has a predominantly Black membership and support base. The pan-Africanist political party is the third-largest political party in both South African Parliament houses.
Through its Twitter handle, EFF applauded its supporters for the November 20, 2020 protests. The tweet read;
“We extend revolutionary gratitude to all Commissars, Fighters, and Ground Forces for a show of force against racism and the DA-led police state at Brackenfell today. #EFFInBrackenfell.”
EFF also commended their supporters for not being violent through the same platform.
“In the face of deliberate attempts to undermine the program of the EFF, fighters remained disciplined and militant and dealt peacefully with all forms of provocation. #EFFInBrackenfell.”
Right of Every South African to Engage in Peaceful Protest
South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, earlier called for investigations into the racism allegations at the school which resulted in a confrontation between parents and the protestors.
Ramaphosa previously said, “It is the right of every South African to engage in peaceful protest, and any actions to suppress the right to freedom of expression, particularly through violence and intimidation, must be roundly condemned.”