A board member of a school in South Africa caught in the middle of a race row, after a picture of white and black children sitting at separate desks was shared online, has said the institution is not racist.
“There’s definitely no racism in this school,” Oloff van Niekerk said about the school in Schweizer-Reneke, state broadcaster SABC reports. A teacher was suspended after complaints about the picture. A black parent told Timeslive that she thought her child’s first day at school had got off to a good start until she saw the image.
“This was meant to be an exciting day for me, but it’s not,” she is quoted as saying. Local authorities say they “highly condemn” the incident and have removed the teacher “pending investigation”. Sello Lehare, the education minister for the North West province, said the school’s explanation was that “the learners were separated according to those who could understand Afrikaans and English”.
The school was forced to close on Thursday after protesters gathered outside the compound. White parents, some armed with guns, said the black parents should remove their children from the predominantly white school if they were not happy with it, Soweto Live reports. Racism is still deeply embedded in South Africa nearly 25 years after white-minority rule ended. Language policy has historically been used to exclude black learners.