Parents from Reakantswe Intermediate School in Windsorton are seen explaining the situation at the school to the media yesterday. Pictures: Danie van der Lith

Kimberley - Parents from Reakantswe Intermediate School in Windsorton fear that a body will have to be wheeled out of the schoolyard before anything is done to ease apparent racial tensions between pupils.
Pandemonium erupted on Tuesday at the school after two groups of pupils attacked each other with garden spades, sheep shears, pangas, knives, hockey sticks, golf clubs and sjamboks.

Parents added that the principal had to apparently calm himself by drinking three glasses of sugar water after pupils had pelted him with stones.

“One of the pupils was hit on the shoulder with a spade, while stones were hurled at my child. We sent our children to school so that they can learn, not kill each other,” said the concerned parents.

Some of the parents believe that the incident was racially motivated, where coloured pupils were continually being made to feel unwelcome at the school.

“The Setswana parents and pupils are chasing away the coloured pupils from the school. They said that they should not return to class for the next three days as they would be harmed if they dared (to do so). They call us Boesmans. We have every right to send our children to the school that we fought for. Often the racial tension originates between parents that is filtered down to the children.”

A parent from the school, Rosemary Skinner, stated that her daughter was afraid of going to school.

“The MEC for Education must intervene and call a parents’ meeting to resolve this crisis. Relations have been strained for a long time and it is becoming worse,” said Skinner.

Parents also called on the school to suspend the troublemakers.

“They are disrupting the whole school. They fight outside of the classroom and continue where they left off at the school. They are acting like gangsters. Groups from Hebron Park and Kutlwano are fighting each other with pangas and knives. Some of these pupils should have left school a long time ago because they are already old.”

They added that some parents had chosen to remove their children from the school. “No one was chased away.”

Another parent, Magda Pienaar, said that she was almost stabbed while trying to break up a fight.

“One of the boys took a knife out of his pocket and almost stabbed me. I was scolding them, telling them that it was unbecoming to act in this fashion. This is supposed to be school grounds and not a battlefield.”

Ward councillor Thomas Saul denied that there were any racial tensions.

“This should not be politicised, it has nothing to do with race. I met with the principal, who was also caught in the skirmish, as well as the school governing body yesterday. We brought both groups of pupils together after the police arrived on the scene, and they agreed to resolve their differences without resorting to violence,” said Saul.

He reassured parents that it would be safe for pupils to return to school today.

“No child was chased away from the school.”

DA Member of Parliament, Dr Allen Grootboom, condemned the incident yesterday.

“Schools are meant for all races, racism cannot be tolerated,” he said.

Police spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel Dimakatso Mooi, said that no injuries were reported.

“The Windsorton police were called to the school to calm the situation after a group of pupils were fighting at the school. No arrests were made.”

Spokesperson for the Department of Education, Geoffrey van der Merwe, stated that they were investigating the incident and would provide a response on Wednesday.

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