South Africa

RACE ROW

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi visits Hoërskool Jan Viljoen after racial incident

Pupils walk past a police Nyala at Hoërskool Jan Viljoen in Randfontein, West Rand, on 14 February 2022. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Roads leading to Hoërskool Jan Viljoen were blocked and racial tension almost boiled over outside the school gates on Monday morning. Police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades in an attempt to restore order.

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi visited Hoërskool Jan Viljoen on a fact-finding mission on Monday after an apparently racially motivated fight broke out at the school on Friday, 11 February. 

Black pupils on Monday told Lesufi they feel racially targeted following the incident, which resulted in four cases being submitted to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). 

Roads leading to the school were blocked and racial tensions almost boiled over outside the school gates on Monday morning. Police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades in an attempt to restore order. 

A student’s placard said “28 years later and being black is still an issue”. 

Learners outside Hoërskool Jan Viljoen in Randfontein, West Rand, are guarded by security personnel on 14 February 2022. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)
A police officer outside Hoërskool Jan Viljoen in Randfontein, West Rand, on 14 February 2022. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)
A pupil holds up a placard outside Hoërskool Jan Viljoen in Randfontein, West Rand, on 14 February 2022. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)
Pupils walk past two armoured trucks belonging to a private security company outside Hoërskool Jan Viljoen in Randfontein, West Rand, on 14 February 2022. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Various political parties were also present, and an EFF supporter was heard saying, “Malema will be here tomorrow.” Inside the school, private security officers were dressed in riot gear and two armoured trucks were in the school parking lot. 

A chilling voice note sent to Daily Maverick is the voice of a young white man describing the events leading up to the fight. He makes use of the k-word four times in the nearly four-minute clip. He also reveals that he and his friends are racist, and calls for apartheid to be implemented at the school.  

Lesufi and his delegation spent a few hours at the school, where he met with pupils, management and other stakeholders. Outside the school some parents called for the principal to step down, some called for the closure of the school and some called for its name to be changed. 

EFF members and a pupil kneel in front of a police Nyala (not in frame) as a gesture of peace outside Hoërskool Jan Viljoen in Randfontein, West Rand, on 14 February 2022. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)
An extremely strong police presence was there to ensure order, although police had earlier used rubber bullets and stun grenades. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)
EFF members at Hoërskool Jan Viljoen in Randfontein, West Rand, on 14 February 2022. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)
A member of a private security company allows schoolchildren to exit Hoërskool Jan Viljoen in Randfontein, West Rand, on 14 February 2022. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Apart from racism claims, a staff member employed by the school governing body (SGB) has been placed on precautionary suspension after being accused of sexual harassment. Daily Maverick tried to get a comment from him but he said he had been instructed not to talk to the media. 

Lesufi called for accountability and for a preliminary report by Thursday. He said the South African Human Rights Commission would be requested to investigate racism and other forms of discrimination at the school. 

“All issues of racism in this school, I don’t want them to be investigated by the SGB, I don’t want them to be investigated by the district. I am going to call the South African Human Rights Commission… we are not stepchildren in this country. We also belong and we must be protected.” 

A schoolgirl asked Lesufi: “Why are white children being treated otherwise? They said they are going to show us who is the ‘baas of the plaas’, and they are going to kill us, they are just going to bring guns and shoot us, sir. How are we supposed to feel safe at our own school?” 

Lesufi said, “It pains me a lot for all of you to be reminded that you are still black in your own country. I want to assure you, whatever it takes, they might have oppressed our grandparents and succeeded, they might have oppressed our parents and succeeded. They will never oppress our children.” DM

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  • If this school had been left as an Afrikaans medium school, I do not believe any racial issues would have arisen. The anc forced schools to enroll and change their language of education. Why didn’t they build schools in the areas where they were required? lesufi is the arch racist against anything Afrikaans and white.

    • Agreed, this is his moment in the sun where he can point fingers and malign certain people as much as he likes. It’s not that the department didn’t have money to build schools where they were needed it’s just that funds were repurposed.

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