PRETORIA - “We are tired, we are tired”, chanted hundreds of black pupils as they emerged from classes during their break that coincided with the Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi’s visit to Pretoria High School for Girls on Monday.
Lesufi, accompanied by officials from the national and provincial departments of basic education were at the school after the pupils wrote a petition to the MEC’s office requesting intervention over “racist” incidents, which they said were rampant at the institution.
Some of the girls in tears as Lesufi addresses them "you have my support, I will protect you" #PretoriaGirlsHigh— Zikhona Tshona (@ZikhonaTshona) August 29, 2016
Panyaza said he initially wanted a meeting with the learners and asked the school’s management and representatives of political parties including the African National Congress (ANC) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to leave.
Lesufi: this is not normal and that is why we are here #PretoriaGirlsHigh— Zikhona Tshona (@ZikhonaTshona) August 29, 2016
In the meeting with pupils, who cannot be named because they are minors, they recounted several incidents when teachers told them their hair was “untidy”.
“She said my hair looks like a bird’s nest. She said my hair was untidy but I take time every morning to make up my hair. I do not see anything wrong with my hair,” said one pupil.
Lesufi: I want to thank you for your bravery #PretoriaGirlsHigh— Zikhona Tshona (@ZikhonaTshona) August 29, 2016
The schoolgirls say the institution’s rules forbid African hairstyles such as afros, bantu knots, dreadlocks and braids.
Another learner said “a teacher called me a monkey”.
Lesufi: you have every right to be in this school, your are not secondary citizens here #PretoriaGirlsHigh— Zikhona Tshona (@ZikhonaTshona) August 29, 2016
The pupils claim they have been subjected to racism at the school, over the years.
Lesufi said he will have meetings with the school management and other concerned stakeholders afterwards.
Meanwhile, school parents gathered at the locked gates to voice their anger.
Soon after, protestors arrived at the school's main gates.
African News Agency