PRETORIA – Panyaza Lesufi, MEC for Education in the Gauteng Province, responded Sunday night to a #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh petition, and is expected to visit the school at 10am Monday morning to investigate the claims of racism which include allegations that black schoolgirls have been forced to straighten or relax their hair to comply with exam regulations.
The hashtag went viral Sunday evening, with a video (filmed on Friday at Pretoria Girls High School) being widely shared of a teacher trying to grab a camera out of a student’s hand; and a photo that could well become iconic being shared of a schoolgirl standing up to an adult male.
The petition is addressed to Lesufi and the headmistress, Mrs K. du Toit. It says:
We the undersigned call on you to take swift action to ensure that:
– The school’s code of conduct does not discriminate against Black and Muslim girls;
– Disciplinary action against teachers and other staff members implementing any racist policy and/or racist actions
– Protection for the learners who protested to ensure they will not be victimised.
Why is this important?
Right now, learners at Pretoria High school are demanding that racist practices at the school are brought to an end. Girls attending the school have been forced to straighten their hair; are accused of conspiring when standing in groups and face other intolerable comments and actions.
We stand in solidarity with the learners, who marched at the school on the 26th to say enough is enough. It is unacceptable that in a country in which Black people are a demographic majority, we still today continue to be expected to pander to whiteness and to have it enforced through school policy.
A widely-shared picture that says a thousand words:
— Sophie Mokoena (@Sophie_Mokoena) August 28, 2016
The video of the teacher:
— RAbi? (@uaubfremh) August 28, 2016
— Amandla! (@AmandlaMobi) August 28, 2016
From #FeesMustFall to
All led by brave young women ?? pic.twitter.com/0vH9Ack2T1
— Sure Kamhunga (@sure_kamhunga) August 28, 2016
— :)onovan Goliath (@DonovanGoliath) August 29, 2016
— #POWERLounge (@AB_Broadcaster) August 28, 2016
We were told we're too loud, have no manners, we weren't allowed to speak our own language, its rude #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh
— Her Slayship (@MissLopi) August 28, 2016
— Satan,Herself. (@Waniisdead) August 28, 2016
Being forced to relax your hair in 2016 is absurd. White schools still cant see the beauty in an Afro. Tsek! #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh
— ☢itsYangaChief (@ItsYangaChief) August 28, 2016
Really proud of the girls behind #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh for doing what so many Model C/private school black kids were too scared to
— Third Force (@NalediMashishi) August 28, 2016
They need to state why they won't allow black girls with their NATURAL hair write those exams. I'm curious. #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh
— Koketso (@KokiiKay) August 28, 2016
— The Daily VOX (@thedailyvox) August 29, 2016
I was told I look BARBARIC for having an AFRO!!! #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh
— Mmabalane (@_AtliiMotuku) August 28, 2016
— About Sarah (@McLocal26) August 28, 2016
Lesufi responded to concerned tweets till after midnight on Sunday, reassuring South Africans “this will end… It won’t happen under my leadership. NEVER!”
Monday morning on Twitter:
Can our leaders please stop dabbing and do something about this ???????????. #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh
— S N O R A H (@SnorahPakade) August 29, 2016
— ij ? (@marmitel0ver) August 29, 2016
[LISTEN] MEC Panyaza Lesufi to visit school governing body over #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh
— #AMLive 104-107fm ? (@amliveonsafm) August 29, 2016
University of Pretoria students: meeting at the Piazza at 11am to march to Girls High at 12 ??? #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh
— thelifeof(patson) (@patson_manda) August 29, 2016
My daughter going through the same! This is a national problem #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh
— BlackGalGoneMad (@torochaser) August 29, 2016
— Buhlebenkosi (@buhlem) August 29, 2016
— NomaEconomy (@Kalushikazi) August 29, 2016