Pupils faced censure from the school when a picture of them holding up T-shirts with pro-EFF messages on them appeared on social media last week. Picture: Twitter

The Maritzburg College school governing body (SGB) says it views the actions of two boys - who were photographed holding up T-shirts with pro-EFF messages on them last week - as falling within the ambit of the party-political activities which the Schools Act prohibits.

But, it says, it respects that a disciplinary tribunal may find differently.

The photograph in question was posted on Twitter and has since gone viral.

Now the boys are facing a raft of disciplinary charges, among them, contravening the Schools Act.

A disciplinary hearing has been put on hold, pending the outcome of a departmental investigation into allegations of racism at the school.

The SGB chair said in a statement posted to the school’s website yesterday, that they were aware of “the broader national debate and sensitivities around political views, race, identity and freedom of expression and association in the country at the current time”.

“Much has been said about the constitutional rights of the learners and how these rights may find application in this matter,” he said. “Although the school acknowledges these rights and respects them, it is important for all the members of our school community and the public to realise that a SGB and a disciplinary tribunal held in terms of the Schools Act, does not have the authority to declare any provision in any Act of Parliament unconstitutional."

He added that the School Governing Body welcomed the departmental investigation.

“The governing body and the school fully respect all learners’ rights to hold their own opinions. To encourage debate and freedom of expression, Maritzburg College has several active and robust school programmes in place that support and strengthen healthy social awareness engagement, in suitably supervised school structures and forums.

“The school acknowledges that the learnings from this experience must be taken into account. As a school community, Maritzburg College is committed to proactively engage with the complex and emotionally-charged issues that have emerged in the last while."

He maintained that the school’s focus remained preparing pupils for their upcoming examinations.