Pretoria – The use of Afrikaans around Pretoria north schools was exclusionary and should be urgently abolished, protesters demanded on Wednesday.
“We want English and other languages in our local schools. Our children have to travel long distances to get to schools which use Afrikaans as the medium of instruction. When our children fail, they are excluded from the schools,” a leader of the protesters, Mpho Mashishi read from a memorandum of demands.
The residents of the informal settlements – Malusi 1 and 2, adjacent to Pretoria North suburbs – went on the rampage on Wednesday morning, blocking busy roads and setting numerous tyres on fire in the streets.
Mashishi read out the demands to an executive director in the Tshwane municipality, Lesutla Moroaswi, who was accompanied by several police officers.
“Our kids have the right to learn and to education, like everybody. They are born in this country and their parents fought for democracy. We therefore demand that the department of (basic) education must instruct all schools to use English as the medium of instruction. African languages must also be introduced in the schools,” said Mashishi.
“Black people must be integrated into these areas. This is a democratic South Africa.”
The protesters said they were moved from places around Atteridgeville by the Tshwane municipality with promises of houses and electricity.
“As a community we demand basic services because the current environment is not conducive for our children to do their homework. We need electricity and we can see that other communities here have electricity. The municipality has forgotten about us,” said Mashishi.
He said the protesters urgently required serviced stands.
“We have the right to our properties permanently,” he said.
The community also demanded recreational parks.
Mashishi said their children had been missing school for more than a week as municipal buses which took them to Atteridgeville schools had been hit by an ongoing strike.
Moroaswi received a hostile reception from the protesters, who kept demanding that Tshwane Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa come and address them.
“The mayor is far away but he said he he is not a prophet. He has sent me to listen and I will give him feedback. It is not his making that he is not around,” Moroaswi told angry community members.
Earlier, Tshwane Metro Police spokesperson, Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba, said there had been reports of some protesters intimidating children at nearby schools.
“We have taken some precautionary measures and sealed off the streets. These streets have been filled with burning tyres and objects thrown onto the road,” said Mahamba near the protesters.
“It went to an extent that some parents in the nearest schools panicked and went to collect their kids from school. We have information that at a certain school, some people went to threaten kids in that school.”
He said the situation remained tense and roads, including the busy Bremer Street, would remain closed.
“As police, we remain here to monitor the situation. At this stage there are no reports of injured people. We have not arrested anybody up to this stage,” he said.
He urged motorists to avoid the area.African News Agency