Prestigious Cape Town school at centre of social media race storm

Westerford High School in Rondebosch, Cape Town. File Picture: Jack Lestrade

Westerford High School in Rondebosch, Cape Town. File Picture: Jack Lestrade

Published Jun 8, 2023


Cape Town – A prestigious Cape Town school is at the centre of a brewing race storm after a social media account, presumably belonging to a pupil at the school, began trolling black pupils with racial slurs.

Derogatory posts on the social media account alleged to be that of a pupil at Westerford High School, in Rondebosch, have caused an outcry online.

The school has launched an investigation into the account.

The Instagram account, named Grade8a_2023, shows images of slaves and some children at the school have been tagged in these posts, with a caption reading: “I found your family” accompanied with a laughing emoji.

There is also a picture of a Khoisan person accompanied by a caption identifying them as a teacher at the school.

A picture of a group of coloured people was also shared, with a message stating that coloureds should be burnt.The caption reads: “and Coloureds should choose if they are black or white they look like the San and the Khoi (sic)”.

Another Instagram story on the account called for the return of the apartheid regime.

It read: “I wish apartheid returned (sic)”.

A further image of black slaves chained at the hands and neck was captioned: “who wishes all these black people could leave our classes and go back to where they came from (sic)”.

It is unclear who is managing the social media page.

In a letter seen by IOL and now trending on Twitter, Westerford High School informed pupils, parents and guardians that it was aware of the string of racist posts and had confirmed that the Instagram account was not an official recognised Westerford page.

The letter said that pupils, staff and parents had been traumatised by this incident.

Consultations with the school management and school governing body have taken place.

The school moved its exams to Monday and Tuesday.

It called for all Grade 8 pupils to be at school on Thursday.

“In view of the fact that the posts seem to have originated from within the Grade 8 group and have affected the grade significantly, all Grade 8s must be at school tomorrow from 9am to 10.30am; they are to meet in the Noel Taylor Hall to be addressed by staff, in-house counsellors and counsellors from outside of the school.

“They will be free to leave at the end of this session but are welcome to stay longer should they wish to receive further counselling,” the letter read.

Pupils in other grades, staff members and parents who wished to receive counselling were also invited to attend sessions at the music auditorium.

The Western Cape Education Department’s (WCED) Bronagh Hammond said the department had been made aware of the incident and the matter was being investigated.

Hammond confirmed that the posts did not come from an official school account and that the school had condemned the comments made.

“It is unclear if the account was hacked or if it did originate from a pupil at the school.

“Pupils in the class have also questioned who had created the discriminatory content. The post came from one source.

The school held a meeting with Grade 8 pupils this morning (Thursday) and provided counselling for those needed it.

“A session was also held with other pupils and parents who wanted more information. The school will continue to provide counselling over the next while,” Hammond said.

She said the account holder of the social media page was being identified.

“If the account was hacked, then the school would need to consider what action can be taken against the outside perpetrator. If a pupil was involved, then disciplinary action will be instituted.

“The school does not tolerate any form of discrimination and will proceed with disciplinary action in terms of the code of conduct,” Hammond said.

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