Brackenfell High School has found itself the topic of much media scrutiny in the past week. The school is currently under investigation by the Western Cape Department of Education (WCED) after it emerged that no black teacher has been under its employ since 1994.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have also protested outside the school on several occasions, and have gotten into physical altercations with parents and residents of the Brackenfell area.
The school has released a statement, stating that it is distancing itself from the violence that has transpired as a result of the allegations of racism.
“The school cannot take responsibility for the private function organised without the school’s involvement,” Brackenfell High School said in a statement, referencing a private matric ball function organised and hosted by one of the school’s parents.
It is alleged that no students of colour were invited to the function.
“At the moment, our priority is the best interest of learners and to write their final examinations without disruption and in a safe environment,” it said. “In the respect of the way forward, we aim to expand to make the school a better place where all students are able to function in a multicultural society where we embrace diversity and inclusivity.”
In June, an Instagram account was started to highlight the microaggression students experience and have experienced while under the tutelage of Brackenfell High School. Called BH Stories, the page has more than 100 personal and anonymous accounts of racism and microaggression experienced by students, with many white students also submitting stories which confirm this.
One story, posted to the account on Friday, November 13 tells how a student’s sister, who is also a pupil of the school, was allegedly wrongfully accused of smoking marijuana in the school bathroom.
“My sister walked into the bathroom while a white student walked out of it. The student then went to the principal to accuse my sister of smoking weed in the school bathroom (my sister does not smoke, period),” the account reads. “They forced her to pee and take all the punishment coming her way. My father then asked for proof that it was my sister, and till today, we have heard nothing about this alleged act.”
Another student, who had lost their school tie a few days before, was asked where their school tie was. Upon replying that they had lost it, a teacher allegedly told the student to inform their parents to “just stop drinking for a week or so”, and they would be able to afford a new one.
“It was the year 2009. I was in grade 11 and we had our monthly neatness inspection,” another account reads. “All the girls in my class were called out to the corridor t have their attire checked. One of the girls’ hair wasn’t up to BH standards, and the Grade Head told her ‘if you want to wear your hair like that, you should go to a boesman school. We do not tolerate that hair here’.”
On Tuesday, November 10, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) also made their way to the school to launch an investigation. The outcomes are yet to be announced.