Members of the EFF protesting outside Hoërskool Ondervaal. Picture: NEO GOBA
Members of the EFF protesting outside Hoërskool Ondervaal. Picture: NEO GOBA

Neo Goba

At least 12 people protesting outside Hoërskool Overvaal in Vereeniging have been arrested for public violence.

Police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse EFF and ANC protesters after they refused to vacate the premises.

Two police nyalas were parked outside the school premises to ensure that the protesters did not return after they burnt tyres and overturned dustbins in front of the gate.

While this was happening‚ classes at the school continued without disturbance as police and private security were also stationed inside the school premises.

Earlier‚ about four stun grenades were fired into the crowd and a scuffle broke out between the police and the demonstrators.

The group was demanding transformation at the school and said they would do so until their demands were met.

The protesters who were arrested will be charged with public violence at Vereeniging police station.

Earlier in the day a parent was punched by an EFF protester after he made an offensive gesture towards a group of protesting red beret supporters‚ after dropping off his daughter for start of the school year.

Police and private security personnel were stationed outside the school on Wednesday morning after members of the EFF and ANC members started protesting against the Afrikaans school’s language policy. The police created a barrier between the school gate and hundreds of protesters.

James van Heerden‚ the father of a grade 8 pupil‚ said parents seeking to enrol their children at the school must look for alternative places that offered tuition in their preferred language.

"They must take ‘no’ for an answer because they tried and they didn’t win‚ so they can take their kids somewhere else. Every child has a right to learn in their home language and we don’t have a colour issue here‚ but they want to make it a colour issue. We’ve got black kids here who are prepared to learn in Afrikaans‚ so why don’t their kids do the same?" Van Heerden asked.

He said if parents wanted their children to learn in English‚ they should take them to English-speaking schools instead of causing "havoc" for the Afrikaans school’s executives.

However‚ another parent who wanted her daughter to enrol at the school‚ said the curriculum should be offered in English and not Afrikaans.

"The reason why we are here is to fight for the rights of our children. There can’t be a school which only accommodates one language. We have schools in the townships in Vereeniging which accommodate white pupils and they are taught in English‚ so why can’t they do the same?" asked the parent‚ who wanted to remain anonymous.

"The only thing we want to achieve is that our children are allowed to learn in this school because it’s the best school that our money can buy in this area. We want teachers to do their jobs and teach our kids in English so that it will be easy for them to understand‚" said a parent wearing ANC regalia.

Some parents had threatened to burn down the Vereeniging school after a High Court in Pretoria ruling earlier this week that the education department did not have the authority to unilaterally override the school’s language policy.

The court found that on the overwhelming weight of the evidence‚ the Afrikaans-medium school had no capacity to receive the English learners‚ let alone to do so at such short notice and to convert to a double-medium school.

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