Statement by Premier Alan Winde on the EFF Brackenfell protest
20 November 2020
I want to thank the South African Police Services and law enforcement for their professional management of today’s protest in Brackenfell, by working to ensure that the conditions of the gathering were enforced and that the school, its learners and teachers were protected.
I also want to thank the residents of Brackenfell for heeding the call of us and the SAPS to avoid the area and to let them do their job. This was the responsible thing to do.
I continue to call for calm and to ensure that there is no escalation of conflict.
Today, the EFF did not abide by their own agreement with the SAPS and the City in multiple respects, which is unacceptable. This, after the conditions were confirmed again just yesterday in a meeting with all role-players.
I am also concerned that the Cape Party, which had not applied to the City to gather, and whose members were clearly there for political ends, also arrived today. They were rightfully asked to leave. We do not need instigation and confrontation, which will only give the EFF the divisiveness that they are looking for.
The terms of this agreement with the EFF were critical for two reasons. Firstly, because this protest was outside of a school (for the third time) attended by learners who have a constitutional right to education, which was denied them today, as the overwhelming majority did not attend school because of the intimidatory tactics of the EFF. Secondly, because measures were in place to protect all people from violence and the spread of Covid-19.
As I said on Monday last week, violence, no matter who perpetrates it, must result in arrest and prosecution. We have to ensure that the rule of law is upheld equally. Indeed, violence and intimidation are never the answer.
I am also very concerned after viewing today’s footage that EFF members and leaders had absolute disregard for Covid-19 regulations. Most members attending the march did not wear masks and failed to keep a safe distance. The total number of EFF members in attendance, over 2000, also far exceeds the 500 members required for outside gatherings in terms of the regulations promulgated under the Disaster Management Act. This at the same time as the Cape Metro is starting to see a notable increase in Covid-19 cases. We expect investigations into this conduct in line with these regulations, as this protest could now be a major super-spreader event.
Let us not be in any doubt: the EFF’s objective today – as evidenced in their social media posts in the run up to today’s event – was to provoke a reaction which they believed would garner support for their cause. Their attempt failed miserably because residents saw it for what it was. They have not had the best interest of our learner’s at heart. If they had, they would have met with Minister Schäfer, as originally agreed to, and they would have awaited the outcome of the investigations by the education department, so all the facts were established. They did not.
What is not in doubt though is that the private function in question was just that, a private function. I want to be crystal clear that we would never, ever allow a racially exclusive event to be organised by one of our schools. It would not be tolerated under this administration. The investigation is nevertheless ongoing, and we ask for calm and responsible behaviour as the matter is handled.
There is indeed no doubt that we must all stand up to racism wherever it occurs. Discrimination based on race is abhorrent and is an assault on the values enshrined in the Constitution, which we cherish. We all need to work together to build a united South Africa, where the colour of your skin does not determine the way you are treated, or your prospects in life. This is essential for our children especially, who deserve the opportunity to succeed.
That is why it does concern to me that some learners of colour in our schools across the country do not feel welcome or heard. This can’t continue, because building our rainbow nation starts with all of us, including our children.
It is for this very reason that the Western Cape Education Department has already initiated a series of programmes with schools to address these concerns. And why schools, like Brackenfell High School, are taking these concerns seriously with their own initiatives. We are committed to following this through with the gravity it deserves.
In doing so, we must all reject the divisive politics of the extreme left and right, who believe that their political success rests on tearing our rainbow nation apart. Let’s be better than this. Let’s solve our problems responsibly, with compassion, consideration for others, and always in the best interests of our children – who deserve nothing less than our full support during this difficult time in our country and the world.
Issued by the Office of the Western Cape Premier, 20 November 2020