SAHRC Calls for Calm Ahead of Planned Protest Action Outside Brackenfell High School on Friday
19 November 2020
The South African Human Rights Commission (the Commission or the SAHRC) has noted that the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) will be staging a protest outside Brackenfell High School, in the Western Cape, on Friday, the 20th November 2020. The Commission and its monitors will also be monitoring events tomorrow.
Following scenes of violent confrontation during the last protest action by members of the political party outside the school, the Commission reminds parents and people in and around the community that the right to unarmed, peaceful protest is protected by section 17 of the Constitution. The right to protest cannot however be exercised in a manner that infringes on other human rights in our Constitution’s Bill of Rights.
Thus, the SAHRC insists that the protest action outside the school should occur in a manner that does not interfere with and respects the learners at the school’s right to a basic education. The Commission highlights the fact that these learners are writing examinations at the end of a difficult year that has deeply impacted their education due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant lockdowns and interruptions during the academic year. We also remind everyone involved in protests that Covid-19 is still with us and urge them to follow health and safety protocols.
The Commission is involved in numerous investigations around recent allegations that have emerged from the school. We call on all stakeholders to allow the Commission to get to the bottom of the facts and make its findings and issue directives or recommendations.
The Commission is conducting its investigation into allegations of a private matric function, allegedly organised exclusively for and/or attended exclusively by white learners and attended by some teachers from the school. The Commission has also noted further allegations of racism and is investigating these as well.
The SAHRC’s call for calm and peaceful protest follows unfortunate scenes of violence during initial protests outside the school. The Commission is looking into these incidents as well, together with complaints of hate speech we received.
The Commission asks that all who descend upon the school on Friday ensure that they put the best interests of the learners at the school first and forge social cohesion rather than cause a greater rift in fragile relationships between different social groups.
Issued by Gushwell Brooks, Communications Co-ordinator, South African Human Rights Commission, 19 November 2020