Afrikaans-speaking children forced to leave council chamber. Picture: Rapula Moatshe
Afrikaans-speaking children forced to leave council chamber. Picture: Rapula Moatshe

WATCH: Afrikaans speaking pupils asked to leave council chambers

By RAPULA MOATSHE Time of article published Oct 26, 2017

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Pretoria -  The Afrikaans-speaking Grade 10 pupils, who attended a council sitting at Sammy Marks Council Chamber on Thursday, were forced to walk out of the venue after a revolt by some EFF members that their presence smacked of racism.

Group leader Mauritz Meiring said the 14 children, under the banner of their cultural group called "Die Voortrekkers", were there as part of their curriculum to learn about how democracy worked at local government.

"Die Voortrekkers" played an activist role to promote their culture and language.

Council Speaker Katlego Mathebe was in the middle of introducing group members when she was abruptly interjected by the EFF leader Benjamin Disoloane, who wanted to know why there were "only white kids".  

Disoloane said: "We are not fighting with these innocent kids. We are fighting with the system, which should accommodate everyone. We need a clear transformation. Go out there and find other schools."

MMC for Health Sakkie du Plooy comments on the incident that led to the Afrikaans-speaking children being forced to leave council chamber. Video: Rapula Moatshe

The comment stirred a heated debate about racism among councillors, who were divided on whether the children should stay or leave the chamber.

In an effort to calm the tension, Mathebe asked the chief whips of different political parties to caucas among themselves about the matter.

Her other repeated attempts to calm down the situation failed as EFF councillors broke into songs and steadfastly called for the item on the children's visit to be skipped. 

Mathebe subsequently asked the children to vacate the chamber, promising that they would be called once the matter had been dealt with. They left, but they were later told not to come in due to the prevailing temperamental situation.

Meiring was however unperturbed by remarks that the presence of Afrikaans-only children suggested it was racist.

He said: "We are unmistakenly South Africans because we are all from South Africa and we also belong to a cultural grouping which is made up of Afrikaner; that is not a fault.
 
That is my birth right, just as it is a birth right to the Xhosa, Zulu or Tswana to be identified in terms of their mother tongue."

MMC for health Sakkie du Plooy said he told the kids that they shouldn't think the incident represented all blacks in the City.

"I think so many politicians due to their political ideology are blatantly racist," he said.

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