A sense of animosity, division, and hatred was palpable at the Hoërskool Overvaal in Vereeniging. Picture: Jonisayi Maromo/ANA
Johannesburg - Two teacher unions have turned to the Human Rights Commission, asking that it probe complaints of hate speech and racism emanating from protests at the Hoërskool Overvaal.

Since reopening last week, the term at the Afrikaans-medium school has been marred by protests because it did not accept 55 English-speaking pupils.

On Thursday, teachers aligned to Sadtu, supported by Cosatu and the Tripartite Alliance, left their pupils in class and handed a memorandum to the school governing body (SGB), demanding the acceptance of the excluded pupils.

There was singing of the song, Kill The Boer, which was previously deemed as hate speech by the Equality Court. There were also reports of social media user Aubery Thamasanqa Mabele posting on Facebook, where he called on President Jacob Zuma to give him a gun "to defend our democracy”, “one bullet, een Boere kind”.

This prompted the DA and Suid Afrikaanse Onderwysersunie (SAOU) to lay complaints with the Human Rights Commission on Friday.

Read: Protesters force #HoërskoolOvervaal to close

“Sadtu claims to seek to improve our schooling system, yet demands that schools be closed whenever the union deems fit,” said the DA’s Ian Ollis.

In his submission to the commission, Ollis said: “Using the language of fear and chaos, the union demanded that Overvaal be closed yesterday, which it was forced to do, fearing for the safety of learners.”

The latest complaint is in addition to one made in 2015 in which the commission investigated Sadtu’s role in denying children their right to basic education.

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) said the formal charge of hate speech and racism laid by its affiliate, SAOU, was necessitated by Mabele’s post on social media.

Also read: #HoërskoolOvervaal: The long struggle for a language of inclusion

Fedusa general secretary George Dennis said the post, which was intended to incite murder, was blatantly racist and would in no way be tolerated.

SAOU also asked Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to audit the leave records of those teachers who had joined the protest and were on unauthorised leave.

Sadtu general secretary Maluleka Mugenya, who is out of the country, referred comments to Gauteng secretary Tseliso Ledimo.

Ledimo said they were not surprised by the politics of the DA.

“We will continue to defend ourselves If there are people who frustrate education transformation, it is the SGB of Hoërskool Overvaal, assisted by the DA and Afriforum. "When we embark on protest action, we apply for time off We do this with care and go back to do catch-up,” said Ledimo.

Political Bureau