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San Souci students demand transparency,then ask media to leave.

Cape Town – 5 September 2016

San Souci Girls High School in Newlands,Cape Town,which has seen protesting students come out and denounce what they claim is racial victimisation by the principal,Charmaine Murray,and other members of staff at the school,held a meeting with parents,learners and representatives of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED).

The purpose of the meeting was to hand over a memorandum of grievances to Western Cape MEC for Education,Debbie Schafer.Amongst their demands are that they no longer be subjected to the schools allegedly racist policies on African hair,cultural and religious attire as well as an end to derogatory remarks.They also demand greater transparency with regards to the schools finances and other aspects of the school’s code of conduct and administrative procedures.

Brain Schroeder,the acting head of Education at the WCED,addressed the crowd before the MEC was handed the memorandum.Schroeder proposed that the process of investigation will take into account the following:

  • Representations from individual learners.
  • Grievances raised by past pupils.
  • Speaking to the current SGB,so as to understand their position.
  • Teachers past and present will be engaged on the issue.

Schroeder assured parents that the WCED would take steps to ensure that no learner is intimidated or harassed while the investigation into the allegations are underway.

The entire memorandum was then read out aloud to those in the meeting,before being handed over to MEC Debbie Schafer.Schafer,who then started speaking in Xhosa,jokingly asked if she would now be sent to detention,in reference to the girls complaints that they are awarded demerits if heard speaking in any African language.Schafer stated that legal processes needed to be followed in order to remove the principal,who was not present at the meeting,and who was asked not to be in attendance at the school while the investigation is completed.Parents claimed that not a single meeting had been called by the SGB this year and that a vote of no-confidence be passed to dissolve it.When a parent asked Schafer why all the members of the SGB were not present,she snapped back with “ask your parents,they elected them”.

The attendees were then addressed by Greshen Chetty from Access to Justice.The organisation was approached by learners to legally represent them.Chetty said two cases involving the school are being investigated by the South African Human Rights Commission.Chetty stated that he is only assisting in an advisory role,and has no clear mandate.

Nicole Jones,a former student who is part of the group #thetruthweshallproclaim,then asked the SABC and other media houses to leave,at the request of Greshen Chetty she claimed.

By Wesley Fester

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