Pupils of Pretoria Girls High protest on the school premises on Monday. Picture: Phill Magakoe

We stand in solidarity with the bold and courageous learners of our school, say a group of ‘Old Girls’ from Pretoria High School for Girls.

Johannesburg - We, alumnae of Pretoria High School for Girls (PHSG), stand in solidarity with the bold and courageous learners of the school, who have spoken out about rank racial discrimination at our old school.

We are emboldened and inspired by their brave and principled stance in upholding the values the school was established on. These are encompassed in the mission statement of the founding headmistress, Ms Edith Aitken, who established the school with the honourable goal of educating young women so that we may leave our mark on the world, shape agendas and fight for equitable change when called upon.

Many of the school's alumni have answered this call over the years.

Ms Aitken's values are self-evident in many of the esteemed public figures, big and small, which spent their formative years at the school. Among these are educationalists, public interest lawyers, the public health system's doctors and nurses, and other professionals.

So, whilst many of us were familiar with some of the school's more archaic practices in our day, it is with dismay that the country’s attention was drawn this week to present-day racism, bullying and patently race-based shaming of black women’s bodies by staff at the school.

Some accounts point to black staff members being demeaned as well, and so we level our dissatisfaction at the school’s poor track record with regard to transformation of the staff-body that is not commensurate to the changing body politic of the school.

We pledge our support to the crop of young women leaders who have brought national attention to issues we are sorely aware are rampant not only at PHSG, but across the country’s former Model C schools.

Girls, we are with you in spirit, minds and bodies, and we assure you that as Old Girls you have all of our support.

We are here to share with you our experiences of the school and situation you find yourselves in, and are a call away should you seek any guidance, assistance and other practical services. Among us are lawyers, student activists, psychologists, doctors and members of the media.

We are also academics at tertiary institutions, teachers and nurses. Call on us if you need to, but remember also: you have inspired us.

There is much we’d like to learn from you, too.

Signed:

Tidimalo Ngakane (Class of 2002) - Lawyer

Shanti Aboobaker (Class of 2004) - Journalist

Sibongile Hill (Class of 2002) - Medical Doctor

Katy Hindle (Class of 2002) - Lawyer

Akhona Pearl Mehlo (Class 2002) – Lawyer

Janet Jobson (Class of 2002) – Civil Society

Angelique Terblanche (Class of 2002) – Manager

Letebele Tsebe (Class of 2004) – Scientist

Jocelyn Evans (Class of 2004) - Engineer

Nqobile Simelane (Class of 2004) – Economic Development Manager

Christine Emmett (Class of 2004) - Academic/Commonwealth scholar

Yonda Siwisa (Class of 2004) – Advertising Executive

Ncumisa Sakawuli (Class of 2004) - Banker

Anushka Singh Bhima (Class of 2004) – Lawyer

Linda Lesu (Class of 2004)

Tali Cassidy (Class of 2005) – Epidemiologist

Lindelwa Skenjana (Class of 2005) - Marketing

Nadia Ebrahim (Class of 2005) - Scientist and Teacher

Leila Ebrahim (Class of 2005) - Dentist

Diale Maepa (Cass of 2007) – Medical Doctor

Lerissa Govender (Class of 2004) – Lawyer, Civil Society

Moipone Moloantoa (Class of 2004) – Advertising and Marketing

Carla Dennis (Class of 2002) – Actress

Thuli Zuma (Class of 2003)

Katie Miller Beyers (Class of 2002)

Olympia Shabangu (Class of 2002) – Lawyer

Pilani Bubu (Class of 2002) – Entrepreneur, Singer-Songwriter

Leila Badsha (Class of 2005) – Entrepreneur

Thabisile Tilo (Class of 2006) - Teacher

Danielle Kriel (Class of 2004)

Dina Lamb (Class of 2002)

Myna Pindeni (Class of 2004) – Women Empowerment Programmes Officer

Julia Eccles, (Class of 2003) - Art Director

Jenni Myburgh (Class of 2004) - Author and app founder

Erin Hommes (Class of 2004) - Activist and senior researcher

Jessica Schnehage (Class of 2004) – Entertainment consultant/Business Owner

Nuraan Muller (Class of 2000) – Director

Refilwe Tilo (Class of 2002)

Trish Stewart (Class of 2004) – Advertising

Dieketseng Boshielo (Class of 2002) – Entrepreneur