Picture: Sihle Manda
Johannesburg - Chaos erupted on the first day of school at the controversial Höerskool Overvaal in Vereeniging.

The school made headlines for refusing an instruction from the Gauteng Education Department to place 55 English speaking learners.

The school refused on the grounds of not having the capacity, despite having a number of unused classrooms which it has since convereted to specialised classes. The department took the matter to court but lost the case. 

Judge Prinsloo ruled that the department’s instruction to the school was unlawful and not supported by applicable legislation.

On Wednesday morning hundreds of disgruntled parents, EFF and ANC supporters gathered in protest outside the school. Chanting struggle songs, they accused the school of perpetuating racism and demanded access.

A white parent was earlier assaulted after he allegedly provoked a protester by showing her the middle finger and hurling insults. Police had to come to his rescue.

Mofokeng Tlhoriso, chairperson of the Overvaal Transformation Committee said the next protest would not be violent and demanded access for non-Afrikaans speaking learners.

"We needed this in order to pass a message.

“Particularly after we received that very racist verdict from a racist judge called Prinsloo. We want to pass a message to Prinsloo; your racial discrimination has ended. Your love for your culture does not build this country, it has ended. 

A delegation, yet to be selected, was to request a meeting with the chairperson of the school’s governing body.

“We need to have a word with the SGB and the school’s management,” he said.

Tlhoriso said despite the protest being peaceful, the next one would not be cordial.

“We want to go to this meeting and tell them what we want, that’s all,” he said. 

EFF Sedibeng convener and provincial legislature member Azwi Tshitangano said the school could not justify only allowing Afrikaans speakers when the majority of the community was Sesotho speaking.

“We are going to defy these unjust laws,” he said. 

“If the laws are going to discriminate on the basis of race, we are going to defy it. We are going to make sure that the doors of learning in this school are open.” 

Shaka Radebe, a local ANC leader, reiterated Tshitangano’s words. 

He urged community members to descend on the district office at 7 am on Thursday to block access.

“We are not only failed by this school, we are also failed by the department and that’s why we are going there,” he said. 

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi was expected to arrive at the school at 11 am.

The ANC Youth League said it is "flabbergasted" by Judge Bill Prinsloo’s ruling, and believes the judge not only erred in his judgment but that the judgment was "a frontal attack on ANC-led government’s effort to build a single, democratic, non-racial and sexist public education system. The ruling is a clear demonstration that some untransformed Judges, still craving for the old Apartheid order, are abusing their influence or positions in the judiciary to undermine radical transformation agenda as advanced by the ANC."

The Youth League has thrown its weight behind Lesufi's decision to appeal the ruling, and says it will request a meeting with the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, "with a view to consider amending the South African Schools Act." 

The Youth League contends that the minister is "empowered to determine admission and language policy for all public schools in South Africa".

IOL