Afrikaans is being bullied – FF Plus

Johannesburg - Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi’s "tirade against Afrikaans" along with the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the University of the Free State’s language policy prove that the language is being bullied, FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said on Wednesday.

"It is clear that… Lesufi is using his issue with Afrikaans as a smoke screen to cover up his own department’s incompetency thereby causing racial conflict," Groenewald said in a statement.

Judge Bill Prinsloo on Monday set aside the department’s decision to admit 55 pupils to Hoërskool Overvaal, saying that the school has no capacity to receive the pupils, let alone to do so on such short notice and to effectively convert to a dual-medium school.

READ: High Court sets aside bid to have Hoërskool Overvaal admit 55 English-speaking learners

Following the judgment, parents of the affected pupils vowed to burn down the school.

Lesufi, who asked them not to take the law into their own hands, vowed the department would appeal the judgment.

"Our hearts might be sore, we may be in pain, we might not agree but one thing [is] for sure, there is no racist that can hide behind a broomstick. There is no racist that will use language to deny our children access to education," he said at the time.

Groenewald said the time had come for Afrikaans speakers to "raise their voices in objection and to hit back".

He explained that the party laid a criminal charge against the Sedibeng East district director of education, Criselda Makhubela, as a consequence of the court’s ruling on the Hoërskool Overvaal case.

"The charges are obstruction of justice, intimidation and incitement to commit perjury because, according to the court’s ruling, Makhubela intimidated the principals of the two English high schools, General Smuts and Phoenix, to change their sworn affidavits by saying that the schools cannot accommodate the extra learners while they initially said that they could," he said.

READ: 10 arrested in Hoërskool Overvaal protest

On Wednesday, 10 people were arrested for public violence after protest action outside Hoërskool Overvaal.

Members of the EFF said outside the school that black children in Vereeniging were being discriminated against.

The ANC Youth League said, in a separate statement, that if Prinsloo's judgment was not challenged, it would entrench the old segregated apartheid education system.

In response to the protests, Groenewald said: "The disruptive and aggravating behaviour displayed by the ANC and the EFF at Hoërskool Overvaal today is unacceptable. The FF Plus wants to make it very clear that every individual, including parents, has the Constitutional right to protect him/herself and his/her children."

"The EFF and ANC are trying to make political cannon fodder of children in an attempt to save face. The FF Plus is strongly opposed to children being used as a pawn for political purposes.

"Children must be protected so they can receive their school education in a peaceful environment. The EFF and ANC are undermining the learners’ education and their aggravating behaviour is setting a bad example of how disputes are to be resolved. I am calling on parents to protect their rights with dignity, but not to take the law into their own hands and become the victims of malicious provocation."