The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have promised that Friday’s demonstration outside Brackenfell High School in Cape Town will be peaceful.
The party plans to hand over a petition, after two weeks of intermittent protest action by them and Positive Action Campaign (PAC).
The protests come after an alleged private event held by the school’s parents hosted only white students, and allegedly did not invite black students.
The school’s governing body said due to Covid-19, this year’s matric farewell dance was cancelled. A “masked ball” was arranged privately by some matric students’ parents instead. Only 42 of the 254 Brackenfell students were present.
The EFF’s protest resulted in a clash between the party’s members, as well as residents and parents. Assault charges were laid by the EFF.
On Wednesday, the PAC also marched to the school, but tension at this demonstration reached boiling point, after reports that police fired stun grenades to disperse unruly crowds.
Police said in a statement on Thursday they are confident they will be able to contain any threat “arising from the EFF”, but said that should any agreed upon conditions for the march be violated, police will act, “which may include possible criminal sanction.”
A high police presence will descend on the Brackenfell area on Friday, with SAPS, metro police, public order police members, community policing forums and neighbourhood watches all called in to protect the school.
Spokesperson for Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer, Kerry Mauchline, said the school’s own private security will also be present inside the school’s property.
She added that “no unauthorised persons will be coming onto school property”, and that Covid-19 protocols have already limited access to schools.
Schäfer urged Brackenfell residents to avoid coming near the school, unless they are parents dropping off or collecting their children.
Mauchline said residents and supporters of the school “should stay away”, as engaging in any confrontation with protesters could aggravate the situation, and prevent law enforcement from controlling the crowds.
But uncertainty surrounding Friday’s protest action is rife, despite the EFF’s assurances.
The EFF in the Western Cape will tomorrow protest against racism.
We will protest because our laws are undermined and law-officials are bullied by white racists, who have decided that no Black authority can threaten their grip on sections of our society #EFFInBrackenfell pic.twitter.com/QvFtNulx29
— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) November 19, 2020
We did say that the terror attacks in Brackenfell will not go unanswered. On Friday we will descend and ensure that nothing operates.
They have pushed us, and they must prepare to be pushed harder.
The WC EFF protest against racism this Friday at Brackenfell High School at 10am pic.twitter.com/uw8Hwuiia7
— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) November 17, 2020
— Battalion 54 (@54Battalion) November 19, 2020
Brackenfell ward councillor Rhynhardt Bresler said after video analysis of the protest action was conducted, it was found that the parents affiliated with the school were not the aggressors in the clashes with the EFF and PAC, but supporters from other parts of town that arrived in solidarity with the school.
“Stay home and don’t get involved,” Bresler warned.
He said he had “a lot of trust that police will deal with this, and that we’ll have a calm and orderly march to the school.”
The handover of the EFF’s petition is expected to take place between 11am and 12pm on Friday.
So far, Bresler said students at the school, particularly those writing their final exams, have thus far not been adversely affected by the protest action.
“As far as I know, everything has been fine. I just want sanity to prevail. There’s kids that need to write exams, and they’re not from one racial group.
“They need to write [their exams], and hopefully become leaders in the future of this country. It’s all about them. First the kids, then the rest.”
Bresler lamented the actions over the past two weeks, saying that “things could have been dealt with differently.” Without choosing sides, Bresler said it was essential to follow the correct channels, “if you want answers.”
“If there are racial issues, there are different ways to deal with this. The kids are not the issue, they are there to learn and prepare for the future.”
He hoped that Friday’s demonstrations are peaceful and “boring”.