Pretoria Boys’ High School says it is taking steps to address “a number of social media posts” by its pupils which contain racist and offensive language.
One can be heard making a comment about “the f***ing blacks” in the presence of a black pupil, followed by laughter. The comment was seemingly made as a joke, but the school says it does not view it as a laughing matter.
The school issued a statement on Wednesday saying the matter was brought to the attention of its headmaster Tony Reeler on Sunday. Reeler reported it to the Gauteng Department of Education on Monday morning.
Department spokesperson Steve Mabona on Thursday confirmed this to News24, saying the department was investigating the incident.
The school said a “series of investigations into the posts were conducted and the parents of the boys were contacted”.
Meetings with the boys’ parents were held within 24 hours of the matter being brought to the school’s attention. “It has been determined that disciplinary action against the necessary learners be taken in line with the school’s policies of non-racialism, diversity and tolerance,” the school said.
“Pretoria Boys’ High School takes these incidents extremely seriously and we are deeply saddened by the behaviour of these learners.”
The school added that it was committed to an ongoing programme to foster diversity, tolerance and understanding in all spheres of life.
“We are grateful to those many boys who embody this spirit of a non-racial society.”
Pretoria News reported that the pupil who posted it on social media said he was initially scared to post it for fear of being expelled from the school.
But the school reportedly posted a statement reassuring him: “We noticed you feel you may be expelled for posting racially offensive posts by some learners. We wish to assure you this is not the case. We are taking the necessary action against those concerned. Stay safe and we look forward to your return to school.”
The school’s statement elicited disparate comments.
One comment read: “Sure this is all good and well… but what steps are being taken so this doesn’t happen again? Any kind of education or lessons about where these words come from, what they mean and why they shouldn’t be said, even in a joking manner? Or is this where it ends? A statement, a student being suspended and tomorrow we move on like nothing happened?”
Another Facebook user said: “As disappointing as the behaviour of these boys might be, I commend the approach to take accountability by dealing with this directly and transparently.”