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Good Hope Seminary protest against racism after black learner gets called 'n*gg**'

Published May 18, 2022


Cape Town - Good Hope Seminary learners claim the school is a hotbed of racism, with complaints not being taken seriously.

Grade 12 learners protested outside the school in Hope Street, Gardens, on Monday and on Tuesday against alleged racism at the school.

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Last week, an incident in which a coloured learner referred to a black learner using the word 'n*gg**' sparked the recent protest.

Grade 12 learner Silindokuhle Zoe Sinkwane said ever since she’d been at the school she felt as if she didn’t belong. She said when a complaint was raised, it was swept under the rug.

“It’s the art teacher saying at the arts room while lights were going off she can’t see the black children. It’s also about the previous teachers who resigned at the school who said we behave like black kids, we must go to the townships.

“And it’s also about the principal. We are currently doing a play called Othello, and Othello is dark and several times he kept calling us darkies,” Sinkwane claimed.

Learners were urged to write a petition but this proved fruitless every time, Sinkwane said.

Some learners were made to feel that they weren’t in a position to complain as they weren’t fee-paying students.

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Grade 12 learner Zethu Hhlabeni called on the school governing body to intervene. “Since we got here we’ve noticed there is racism at our school. There have been protests before this at our school. The past protests were for teachers being racist towards children of the school,” Hhlabeni said.

Congress of South African Students (Cosas) Western Cape acting provincial secretary Mphumzi Giwu said learners should feel safe with their teachers, who shouldn’t make racial and discriminatory comments. Giwu called for the dismissal of the principal and teachers implicated.

“We’re doing Operation Clean Up of all education institutions in the Western Cape and at a national level. We’re saying to the Department of Education that immediate intervention is needed here.”

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Housing Assembly chairperson Kashiefa Achmat joined the protest to support the learners.

“Some of the learners were a bit scared, but they’re saying racism has been happening for quite some time. It’s a continuous thing and when there are discussions with the principal, it’s just been swept under the carpet. They feel they’ve had enough,” Achmat said.

Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the department had visited the school to engage with the principal and the learners, and the principal has met with the learner representatives to discuss their concerns.

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“The WCED hasn’t received any complaints recently regarding the school. The priority is to ensure that teaching and learning resume and that the issues raised are heard, addressed and resolved,” she said.

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Cape Argus