A protest outside the gates of Hoërskool Overvaal in Vereeniging entered the second day, and the police have arrested several protestors.
The protest by a several dozen ANC supporters and community members, turned violent after they started throwing tyres in the direction of the school, with one tyre landing inside the school’s premises. The protestors later threw a Molotov cocktail or petrol bomb at a police van, prompting the police to respond by firing rubber bullets in the direction of the protestors, and apprehending some of the demonstrators.
The protests stem from a decision by the school to not admit 55 learners, whose language of instruction is English. Hoërskool Overvaal is a single language school and currently caters to a total of 621 learners. The decision by the school was reinforced by a judgment on 16 January by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, which found that “the school has no capacity to receive the 55 English learners, let alone of such short notice and convert to a dual medium school.” The court subsequently set aside an instruction by the District Director of Sedibeng East, who had directed the school to accept the 55 English-language learners.
The protests are likely to continue in the short and medium term, and those with children at the school, or residing in its immediate vicinity should exercise some caution. The root cause of the issue will also be re-litigated in front of the Supreme Court of Appeal, as the Gauteng Provincial Department of Education has indicated that it will appeal the high court decision.
South Africa continues to grapple with its racial past, and its post-apartheid order is characterised by episodes of race-related social unrest.