Racism Continues To Rear Its Ugly Head At A South African School
Following week-long demonstrations by Black students demanding structural changes at Cornwall Hill College, Afrikaans youth organisations protested against transformation on Monday, June 7.
South African private high school Cornwall Hill College has, for the past week, been thrust in the spotlight over racism allegations. This comes after Black students and some parents took a collective stand against the school at the end of May, followed by a meeting with the South African Human Right Council (SAHRC). Investigations into the racism allegations are still ongoing and the school has committed to participating fully. However, a far right Afrikaans youth group The Bittereinders decided to protest against the planned transformation outside the school on Monday, June 7.
Protesting from the Voortrekkers Monument, The Bittereinders, demanded that the government retract its intervention, through the SAHRC, at Cornwall Hill College. According to IOL, the group's protest was sparked by Black students demanding Black teachers at the school. Through a video recording uploaded on The Bittereinders Facebook page, representative Devon Hofmeyr stated that the protest was not against the Black students and their parents, but in an insolent manner claimed that these demands should not be heard.
"We want to make it clear to that person that you will demand absolutely nothing from the same people who taught your ancestors how to read and write. You will respect the teachers in that school, you will abide by the school rules and you will not jeopardise any other student in that school. The time for demanding is over, you cannot demand any more; you have to earn what you want."
Hofmeyr, deservedly, faced a backlash after images and videos of the protest circulated on social media. The racially tone-deaf group said its actions were motivated by the need for "respect", but denied that their actions were racist.
Black students at Cornwall Hill College allege that the White teachers continuously make negative remarks about their hair being inappropriate. More significant is the mispronunciations of names, and other microaggressions include the lack of diversity amongst teachers.
The Department of Basic Education has, in the meanwhile, also launched its own investigation, and the headmaster Leon Kunneke has committed to comply. According to EWN, this is not the first time the elite private school has been accused of racism. The school is little known to most South Africans because of class divisions. Some of the students are children of politicians and prominent parliament members.In light of the events South African Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago, who has a daughter at the school, said that the private school had not done much to deal with racism allegations in the past.