A group of former students at South African College High School (SACS) have called the school out for alleged instances of discrimination and institutionalised racism over the years.

The students represent five matric classes from as far back as 1997, and have formed a group called the ‘Anti-Discrimination Collective’. They claim that SACS, an all male school which is also the oldest high school in South Africa, has been discriminating against students of colour for decades.

In a statement, spokesperson Alexander McLeod says that people of colour at the school have been called offensive terms and discriminated against for their skin colour, religion and sexual orientation.

“At SACS, the discrimination has ranged from mixed-heritage individuals being called “h**not”, others called “k**fir”, individuals from LGBTQIA+ groups named “m*ffies”, victims being beaten when confronting racists, mixed-heritage individuals being mocked as “products of rape”, Islamophobic sentiments, a cafeteria being made non-halaal after not consulting the SACS Muslim community, to a plaque put up honouring SACS Old Boys who fought in wars that occurred after World War 2,” said McLeod according to News24.

“However, nothing to commemorate the people who fought in the South African liberation struggle is displayed at the school. This list goes on…”

They are calling for the SACS School Governing Body (SGB) to be disbanded for failing to address these issues.

In a statement, SACS High School SGB Chairperson Kerrin Begg told Cape Town ETC that the school is a reflection of the society that we live in, and is therefore not immune from the challenges relating to institutional and societal discrimination.

“Our school must always strive for what is just, fair and equitable. SACS must be a school where young men of any race or sexual orientation feel welcome, are nurtured and developed to enable them to reach their full potential. The hurt voiced by many past and current learners highlights systemic failures on the part of the school in fulfilling this objective. SACS must be the safe space that is the catalyst for change. The leadership of our school commits itself wholeheartedly to this.”

Begg explains that the school has taken measures to address their failures, including setting up an independent task team to facilitate and investigate issues and allegations.

“We have encouraged all SACS stakeholders, including current learners, past learners, staff and parents to use this mechanism as a starting point for investigation, healing and restoration, and that going forward our SACS community will take the lessons learned in reviewing policy and practise to build a school where all young men always feel welcome. The 5 individuals of the “collective” have been invited (similar to all other stakeholders) to submit their experiences and concerns through the task team.”

“The investigation will be followed by individual interviews and facilitated discussions with specific groups on their experiences, practices and measures that can be taken to address discrimination. To this extent the work of the task team and its recommendations presents an opportunity to respond to systemic weaknesses and expedite matters relating to inclusion, diversity and transformation.”

SACS also encourages parents to engage their sons on crucial conversations around race and racism, privilege, sexual orientation, gender based violence and respect for all religions.

Feature image: Facebook / SACS

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